Tomorrow, Sunday 24 April 2016 is the last day of WILD at Cowra Regional Art Gallery. I then say goodbye to those works that have found new homes and bring back the others. Just today I heard that another work has sold, so thank you very much to whomever has purchased this latest one as well as thank you to everyone else who bought the other works. It is always a great surprise to sell a work. I wonder where it will be headed. To put something out into the world and to have people respond to it gives an amazing feeling. As many of my works are based partially on my domestic life with my children referenced, I have been asked ‘is it hard to part with these works’? I am attached to some and have kept a number of these works. I have given my children works that they want too. Once I finish a work which references them, I always ask them what they think and how they feel about the work potentially being shown and or sold. With their response I have either given them the work or put it out there. I feel that, to have a work out in the world that references my children is positive. I don’t think one necessarily has to keep or own something to retain feelings of it’s value. I think it is possible to carry that within you. And then I wonder about how these paintings will live on, after we are all gone. Could someone of a future generation value these works and the stories that they tell?
Thanks all for your support. If you missed seeing these works, you can view some of the images of them on my gallery website page:
The birth of Straight snake and Edna …
I must admit I was quite partial to ‘Edna’ as a title chosen for one of beasties sculptured in one of the 5 recent air drying clay workshops focusing on native animals that I have run for. Another favourite was ‘Straight snake’. So I witnessed 7 year olds sculpt like there was no tomorrow and kids coming to workshops all prepped with what they wanted to make. There was certainly no shortage of kids with big ideas and kids being up for the challenge creating the likes of an eastern quoll or scorpion. It was also great just to hear the discussions of kids whilst they created – interesting topics were on the agenda. I loved the discussion stemming from one talking about pedicures to the group opening up about their thoughts on gender equality … ‘it’s ok if boys want pedicures … there’s no problem with that’. I was but a mere adult listening to some idealistic and empathetic minds of some gorgeous kids. I hope I was able to pass on some skills to them and encourage them with some enthusiasm for creating. I was lucky as a kid myself to go to pottery group and I feel that with a bit of encouragement and skill building, you can give a kid much confidence to continue on.
It was also good to pop into Cowra Regional Art Gallery, the location of the last couple of workshops, catch the good staff and see some visitors pass through my exhibition there. There’s still time to explore my exhibition and The Wilkins Collection, A Survey that showcases some figurative and landscape works acquired from year 12 ARTEXPRESS students also in Cowra Regional Art Gallery. This and Wild are on now and run for just over a week – closing on 24 April. Then the national Calleen Art Award is on at Cowra Regional Art Gallery and I am chuffed to say that one of my works, ‘Sharon Riley II’ has been chosen as a finalist.
Thank you to Tracy Sorensen for taking the time to write the Wild Catalogue essay.
Here is a link to her website … http://squawkingalah.com.au/
And here is the Wild Catalogue essay …
At first glance, there is a beguiling charm about Nic Mason's paintings. There's a little red bag and red shoes - full of expectancy, the delight of a journey - and the beautifully rendered faces of native animals. The numbat turns to look back at us as it sets off down the road; the bush stone curlew pauses with a friend for a moment in an iconic Australian forest. But there is an unease here, too. The open, innocent face of a human child is looking out under another gaze: the eyes of a fox worn as a headpiece. There is personality in those animal eyes but it's not quite clear whether they are alive.
The heads of native animals - detailed, layered, expressive - sit atop the bodies of human children. It's a strange conjoining; a sense that something is not quite right.
The beauty amidst the not-quite-right lies at the heart of Nic Mason's paintings. Her work is infused with a deep knowledge of the Australian bush, knowledge gained through a childhood of intent observation and drawing and an adult life working in the field of conservation management.
Nic Mason's studio is an original, wonky, gold miner's cottage sitting amongst the trees at Napoleon Reef near Bathurst. For the first time in her life, for three precious months, she has given herself over to painting full time. Through her windows, she can see her children playing with their friends, her kelpie whizzing by, an old horse nibbling the grass. In another direction, there's the timeless presence of bark, leaf, rustling insects, glimpses of sky and earth. As she works, these things appear on the canvases on the walls and resting on easels, remixed through a searching imagination.
It's clear Nic Mason has a love of oil paint. She is not afraid to combine different approaches to mark-making within a single canvas, using thin, suggestive brush strokes against areas of heavily layered, skillful realism. It's the sort of realism that almost walks off the canvas. "Sometimes someone will recognise a friend's child by their stance or little body shape," says Nic.
The children's faces are often masked by the head of threatened native animal - a brush tailed rock wallaby perhaps, or a bilby. The animals in the paintings reflect Nic Mason years of work in threatened species recovery projects, including hands-on work saving the southern brown bandicoot. More recently, she has followed with professional interest moves to reintroduce the locally extinct numbat and bilby in the west of the state.
And then there's that little red bag. It represents going somewhere; a moment at the crossroads, a question. Animals are on the move. Are they coming back, leaving forever? The bag, says Nic, also represents her multi-tasking self. "For me, the red bag is about my life as a mum, my job, my involvement with an artist-run gallery. On any given morning I have to think about it. Which bag am I taking with me? It's not just one story."
Wild is on at Cowra Regional Art Gallery until Sunday 24 April 2016. You can also see images of many of the works on my website at http://www.nicmasonartist.com/gallery.html.