Exhibition: Belle Île: Luke Sciberras & Euan Macleod

This exhibition is on at Manly Art Gallery & Museum until 2 September 2018. If you’re anywhere near Sydney I recommend getting yourself organised and over there. Apart from the works themselves there is the story of the genesis of the exhibition, plus insight into the artists’ processes in developing the works.

This exhibition of very recent works – all 2017 and 2018 – is linked to John Russell: Australia’s French impressionist which opened last week at the Art Gallery of NSW – www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/john-russell/. I’ve blogged about Russell once or twice before (11-Nov-2013). The AGNSW website’s potted history includes “John Russell was a close friend of Vincent van Gogh and Auguste Rodin, taught impressionist colour theory to Henri Matisse and dined with Claude Monet.” A group including the curator, filmmakers and others visited Belle Île off the coast of France as part of the lead up to the AGNSW retrospective. Belle Île was Russell’s home for many years and where he met Monet. Sciberras and Macleod joined the expedition and spent a week or so on Belle Île last year, painting in locations that may be familiar to many from works by Monet and Russell. So it will be fascinating when I get to the AGNSW to view Russell’s works with the contemporary responses in mind.

However just now I’m focused on the Manly exhibition, and the work process that it exposes. Preliminary sketches and more developed studies are shown, as well as the major works which were painted later at the artists’ studios in Sydney.

A selection of work by Luke Sciberras. Note the size increases and materials change over development. Also apologies for odd angles, which still didn’t avoid reflections.:

Luke Sciberras
sketchbooks


Luke Sciberras
Plein Air Study, Belle Ile
gouache and pastel on paper, 29.5 x 42 cm


Luke Sciberras
Study For High Tide, Belle Ile
gouache on paper, 56 x 75 cm


Luke Sciberras
Study For Bangor, Belle Ile
Oil on board, 60 x 85 cm


Luke Sciberras
Pinnacles Between, Belle Ile
Oil on board, 160 x 240 cm


Luke Sciberras
Pinnacles Between, Belle Ile (Detail)

In the catalogue Sciberras writes of thrill of being in the actual place, the sound of the pebbles tumbled by the sea. “The challenge is to harness an energy; some spirit that comes back with you to the studio, to slough the coating of expectations and anticipation and immerse the imagination into the moment.” Then over time working in the studio versions of memory develop, a reflection on the experience of the place, works “about” the place but with their own energy.

In the documentary film showing in the exhibition space Sciberras talks in front of a particular picture – I think it might be Pinnacles Between, Belle Ile (photo above). He describes how the scale of the painting absorbs him bodily, in a way like the location. The cliffs abbreviate peripheral vision, close and claustrophobic, with fantastic views. Standing in front of the works is such a different experience to a tiny photo.

Next very different work from Euan Macleod.

Euan Macleod
Sketches drawn and painted at Belle Ile


Euan Macleod
Belle Ile People and Needles 7/5/17
acrylic on paper, 38 x 58 cm


Euan Macleod
Large Cave Entrance 11/5/17
acrylic on paper, 58 x 76 cm


Sorry, the photo above is particularly bad, but I wanted to show that right from the start Macleod was inventive, not entirely descriptive, putting in stairs where he wanted them. From the documentary film I gather Macleod wanted to emphasize the precariousness of getting down the cliffs, the feeling of being trapped on the beach.

Euan Macleod
Beach (Belle Ile)
acrylic on polyester, 120 x 84 cm


Euan Macleod
Guillotine
oil on acrylic on linen, 168 x 112 cm

In the catalogue Macleod notes that as he works later in the studio, although memories are important “the paintings become less specific in regard to place and more about an internal, emotional place.” There is a freedom for the work to determine where it goes.

I found the exhibition invigorating and inspiring. Seeing the movement of marks and ideas through different stages of development, using different materials, was very interesting. Some of the initial and clearly very quick sketches, visual note taking, looked not entirely unlike something I might attempt. The idea of landscape as a beginning, a core of memory, not a thing to copy, makes more sense when you see the series of works.

An ink on paper work by Sciberras, together with the work I saw recently by Matt Bromhead (22-Jul-2018), has me wanting to make my own experiments…

Luke Sciberras
Toul Rock, Belle Ile
Ink on paper, 56 x 75 cm


Luke Sciberras
Toul Rock, Belle Ile (detail)

5 Responses to “Exhibition: Belle Île: Luke Sciberras & Euan Macleod”


  1. 1 Angela Eden October 31, 2018 at 10:54 am

    I have unfortunately only just found out about the work of these two artists and have missed the Manly Art Gallery and Museum exhibition which closed 2nd September 2018. Does anyone know if it will be available for viewing elsewhere a later date?


  1. 1 Gallery Lane Cove – recent exhibitions | Fibres of Being Trackback on July 29, 2018 at 7:58 pm
  2. 2 Clarifying the beginning | Fibres of Being Trackback on August 4, 2018 at 3:41 pm

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