Solo exhibition by Bess O’Malley
28th September – 17th November
Flowers are emblematic of beauty, across culture and throughout history. This exhibition is about my painting and gardening practice. They are paintings of the flowers I grow from seed and the compositions I design in my garden beds. I have tried to stylise nature in my Petersham backyard and in my art, creating a colour allegory of my own, in paint and in the soil.A primary influence has been Marianne North, a Victorian-era oil painter and explorer who travelled the British Empire painting in situ. Her practice, like mine, was about art and the study of nature. Her gallery at Kew Gardens remains a unique example of a 19th century salon, and it has influenced how this exhibition was conceived. The colour language of the modernist garden painters Emil Nolde and Claude Monet have influenced my palette. The compositional elements and filigree styles of 16th-century French tapestries and Northern Renaissance alter pieces are referenced to imbue my flowers with drama and personality.
This exhibition includes watercolours on paper, as well as oil paintings on canvas and board. The large oil paintings are compositions I’ve constructed using watercolours, drawings and photos as reference material. They are painted in the thin to fat method over a six-month period. The smaller works are views of my flower beds and pots in full bloom, begun in situ and developed in the studio.
Please join me for the launch of Full Bloom Tea House, from 12pm to 6pm, on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of September. We will serve traditional Devonshire Tea, in honour of Garden Tea Houses everywhere and in memory of the very fine day I spent at Chelsea Physics Garden in the summer of 2018.
Newsagency Gallery is located at 332 Stanmore Rd Petersham
About the Artist: Bess O’Malley is an artist based in Petersham, NSW. She has a BA and an MA (art) from COFA, graduating in 1993. Aside from working in her studio and her garden, since 2000 she was co-founder of the public art group “Hotbed Designs”, creating public art to educate urban communities about their backyard ecosystems. In 2012, Bess established the artist-run space “Newsagency Gallery”, supporting more than 100 emerging and mid-career artists to develop and exhibit their work. Her work has been exhibited in Australia and overseas and is included in private collections and academic transcripts.