By Luke Voogt
Vast vistas viewed from a dormant volcano crater and country towns doing it tough feature in a trio of exhibitions at Boom Gallery this month.
Painter and printmaker Ben Fennessy takes in the 360-degree views of southwest Victoria’s volcanic plains from the top of Tower Hill, the name of his new exhibition.
“The vastness and beauty of Tower Hill is fascinating,” said Fennessy, who taught tertiary arts in Geelong for many years
“It is such an awe-inspiring, ancient environment that changes constantly, depending on where you view it from and the weather conditions.”
Landscapes are the primary inspiration for Fennessy, especially in his current fascination with Tower Hill.
“The ever-changing influences of mist, light, wind and rain are dramatic and impact the landscape and the viewer’s psyche,” he said.
“It conjures mystique and heals the spirit.”
Also at the gallery, Wangaratta painter Andy Pye takes viewers on a journey to find the beauty in regional Victoria, in his exhibition Fringe Lyf.
The former Geelong local drew inspiration from famous Australian artist Sir William Dobell and his 1949 painting of a mother, son and their cow in backyard.
“It’s a blowy day, a bit spartan and dreary in fact,” he said.
“It takes a particular artistic perspective to see the beauty in these scenes.
“Of course, they’re more beautiful on gallery walls so it’s easy to see the beauty at that point.
“But to paint them in real life, when it’s cold and windy, is a different thing.
“The artist who seeks these dreary scenes can easily second guess themselves and their subject matter.
“But to me, there’s something about hand-cut hardwood weatherboard cottages, telecom cables and old fences that create sanctuaries for prickly pear, weeds and graffiti.
“The odd milking goat, flock of cockies and of course the footy are prevalent subject matter in this body of work spanning several regional towns.”
Pye describes his work capturing the emptiness of rural scenes as having a “post-apocalyptic undertone” mixed with “larrikinism”.
“The footy oval is ubiquitous in these towns – it’s a shrine,” he said.
Quirky Byron Bay painter John Santucci rounds out the trio, displaying his work at Boom Gallery for the first time in his exhibition Garden Therapy.
Santucci’s home garden inspired his latest paintings, which he hoped would convey colour, humour and optimism “in a time when we need it more than ever”.
His paintings are an eclectic mix of items including the “star of the show”, his “jungle of plants and botanical colour”.
“These pieces are of a whimsical nature which include retro toys, old cameras and music items from my own home,” he said.
“It’s hard living in a place like Byron Bay and not being influenced by the diversity of the flora and wild environment that surrounds me everyday.
“I wanted to go beyond the still life botanical work, and introduce a more personal story.
“I chose a subject that was quite literally staring me in the face.
“Our garden was somewhat basic, but Byron’s weather means vegetation grows fast, really fast!
“We planted madly, and this series is inspired by the fruits of that labour – a serene contemplation of form, composition and nature’s incredible beauty.”
The exhibitions run at Newtown’s Boom Gallery until October 24. Details: www.boomgallery.com.au