ABOUT THE ARTISTS

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Our upcoming exhibition features works by prominent Australian painters as well as works on paper.

J. A. Turner

James Alfred Turner (1850-1908), artist, was born on 11 February 1850 at Bradford, Yorkshire, England, son of John Turner, bank accountant, and his wife Rhoda, née Oddy. He arrived in Victoria some time before 1874, the year of his earliest-known Australian painting, 'View down Collins Street from Spring Street'. In 1884 James Oddie commissioned him to execute fourteen paintings of bush life which Oddie donated to the newly founded Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. Turner had several Melbourne addresses: at William Street in the 1870s and at least two in Collins Street in the 1880s. In 1888 he bought a twenty-acre (8 ha) bushland property with a small dwelling ('The Gables') at Kilsyth, near Croydon, at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges.

That year his paintings 'Saved' and 'Fighting for Home' received 3rd awards of merit in the Melbourne Centennial (International) Exhibition which also included the work of Tom Roberts, John Mather, Girolamo Nerli and Frederick McCubbin. On 29 October 1890 at St Peter's Church, East Melbourne, Turner married Annie Margaret Williams; they lived at Hawthorn; she died in the following year after the birth of a stillborn child. Turner returned to Kilsyth in 1893 and remained there until 1907. Local rural and bush life supplied subjects for his paintings which Table Talk described as being of 'peculiar exactness'. He was recognized in 1894 as 'our best known painter of incident'. On 1 May 1900 he married Mary Ann Thomas (d.1950), daughter of the founder of Thomastown, at the Government Statist's Office, Melbourne.

A prolific painter, Turner was a master of oil and water-colour. He also worked in gouache. He painted chiefly to please himself, 'without any suspicion of pot boiling', never allowing work to leave his hands until he was thoroughly satisfied. Generally content with 'homely incidents and quiet aspects of nature', he sometimes painted large works such as 'The Homestead Saved' (90 cm by 151 cm) which sold for $82,000 in 1980. Bushfires were a subject he handled well, probably because he had seen them at first hand: the Argus asserted in 1908 that 'No man has ever painted the realism of a forest fire and its fighting better'.

Turner was an exhibiting member of the Victorian Artists' Society, the Australian Art Association, the Victorian Academy of Arts, the Yarra Sculptors' Society and the Melbourne and New Melbourne art clubs. The first of his paintings to be reproduced on postcards was published in Melbourne about 1904. It proved popular and forty-six of his rural and bush-life works were issued in colour. No other colonial painter's work was published in such volume and Turner postcards are still sought by collectors.

Turner died suddenly of heart disease on 13 April 1908 at Canterbury and was buried with Anglican rites in Box Hill cemetery. He had no children.

PRO HART

Pro Hart was a painter, a father, a husband. He traveled the world, but stayed in Broken Hill. He painted almost every day of his life but was disliked, even mocked by the “art mafia”. He met and was admired by Princes, Presidents and movie stars, but he was a shy man who preferred the company of his mates. He collected Rolls Royce’s, Rembrandt’s and Picasso’s, but loved Chinese takeaways and a cup of tea.

Pro Hart was born in Broken Hill, NSW, Australia in 1928. His early years were spent on “Larloona” a sheep station, around 130kms from Broken Hill, learning by correspondence school. He was drawing from a young age, illustrating his homework at seven and progressing steadily in his talent.

He continued to paint and draw after moving back to Broken Hill in his early twenties, even as he worked the long underground shifts in a mine. Indeed, the hard work and the characters in the mine provided much inspiration for the narrative category of his painting styles.

In 1960, at the age of 32 he married Raylee June Tonkin, 19, and together they had five children. He continued to paint and took art classes to help formalise his technique. He was discovered by Kim Bonython, a gallery owner from Adelaide, in 1962 and his popularity as an outback artist began to climb.
Collection after collection would sell out and Pro began traveling the world. He met Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers and his art resides in large international collections.

His creative spirit knew no bounds, experimenting with “performance art” years before it became fashionable; dropping paint from hot air balloons, creating ice sculptures and even using a cannon to distribute paint on his chosen medium.

Perhaps his most famous moment came with a series of television carpet commercials. He continued to experiment with art techniques all his life. Mainly working in oils and acrylics, Pro used any tool or method to achieve the desired outcome for his work.

He drew upon techniques of layering, chiaroscuro, glazing, scumbling, scratching and Alla prima. Pro was also a sculptor working with welded steel, bronze and ceramics.

In 1976 he was awarded an MBE for his services to art in Australia. In 1982 he received an Honorary Life Membership of Society International Artistique for outstanding artistic achievement. This is granted to only one artist per continent and in 1983 he received an Australian Citizen of the Year Award.

Outside of painting, Pro collected vintage cars and a variety of motorbikes. He lifted weights to keep fit, was an “A” grade pistol shooter, loved music and inventing different kinds of engines and machines.

On March 28th, 2006 at 2.45am Pro Hart died at his home in Broken Hill NSW.

JENNY MATTHEWS BA (Hons)

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Jenny Matthews was born in 1964 and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. She studied at Edinburgh College of Art under Elizabeth Blackadder DBE and John Houston, graduating in 1986 with a BA (Hons) in Drawing and Painting. Jenny has lived in France and Indonesia and is now based in Edinburgh with her husband and two daughters.

Jenny has earned her reputation as an accomplished watercolourist over the last 30 years, during which time her work has been exhibited extensively in the UK and abroad. Jenny is Head of the Scottish branch of the International Watercolour Society (IWS Scotland). She has exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA), Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW), Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) and Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour (RI).

In 2003 Jenny received a commission from author Ian Rankin.

The Royal Watercolour Society, London awarded Jenny their ‘Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Purchase Prize’ in 2007, and in 2015 their ‘Exhibitions Award’, both in their Contemporary Watercolour Competitions. Jenny was nominated for the international watercolour prize ‘Marche d’Acqua’, Fabriano, Italy in June 2016.

Her paintings are in the collections of Adam and Co plc, Brodies WS, Hewlett Packard, Ian Rankin and Miranda Harvey, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, Lister Hospital, London, Spire Murrayfield Hospital Edinburgh, Paintings in Hospitals and Walter Scott and Partners, as well as in private collections worldwide.

Evan Mackley

Born in Victoria in 1940, Evan Mackley worked as a dealer in antiques and art, and as a restaurateur before turning to full time oil painting.

Macklin uses a naive-impressionist style to paint such subjects as flowers, animals, sporting events and landscapes.