Melbourne festival promotes the Australian identity in art

What does the Australian identity mean today?

The Australian identity has always been unique. We have a very special culture.

During October 2012 the Melbourne festival brings the international art community to Australia to celebrate our iconic culture.

Popular Australian artist Tom Roberts lived in the bush in the early 1900′s and captured the pioneering Aussie spirit.

Celebrating the rural lifestyle he wrote, ‘being in the bush and feeling the delight and fascination of the great pastoral life and work, I have tried to express it.’

Tom Roberts_Shearing the Rams painting

‘Shearing the Rams’ (1890) by Tom Roberts. Oil on canvas on composition board
122.4 x 183.3 cm National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Felton Bequest, 1932

The artistic images that represent Australia are deeply embedded in our collective unconscious and stem from a rich bush heritage and the courageous pioneers who shaped our country.

Ranging from the rugged bush to the beautiful coastlines, the Australian identity has always been at the heart of the unique artwork we produce.

Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson wrote poetry romanticising the bush lifestyle, whilst Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton produced cherished paintings of sunlit landscapes and the bushman’s spirit.

Tom Robert’s artwork above expresses a common phrase in Australian folklore. Stating the country ‘was built on the sheep’s back’. Arthur Streeton’s painting below, depicts an Australian landscape which helped build the wool industry.

Wide open spaces characterise our rough and rugged special countryside.

Arthur Streeton_The golden fleece painting

‘Land of the Golden Fleece’ (1926) by Arthur Streeton. Oil on canvas, 50.7 x 75.5 cm. National Gallery of Australia, the Oscar Paul Collection, gift of Henriette van Dallwitz

Much of the abstract art I produce and sell to international customers purposefully has an Australian identity underpinning the work. My painting below was sold through the Convent Gallery.

This series has been very popular with customers.

Described as ‘one of Australia’s most beautiful galleries’ it’s located within a small country town of Daylesford and epitomises the Australian country scene.

International visitors appreciate my large abstract paintings because within the context of a country gallery they capture a unique essence of Australia and our cultural identity derived from native gum trees.

The painting below is one of many in my ‘Eucalypt’ series.

Eucalypt painting by Simon Brushfield

‘Eucalypt’ (2001) by Simon Brushfield Oil & Acrylic on Canvas 1.8m x 1.4m (Sold: Private Acquisition)

The Melbourne Festival will be holding talks on the topic of the Australian identity. Famous cultural commentators will present lectures at The Wheeler Centre during October 2012. For more information call the Arts Centre Melbourne 1300 182 183 or visit the website www.melbournefestival.com.au

How to create art that appeals to large audiences: Lessons from Arthur Streeton

This article offers 8 ways past masters improved the level of desire for their art by appealing to large audiences.

The post includes time-tested, proven successful, creative ideas for todays artists.

Even after 100′s of years, Arthur Streeton is still one of Australia’s most well known and successful painters. He has a high public appeal to both Australian and international art lovers.

So how did he accomplish this?

Lesson 1. The artist held a strong and clear vision regarding the purpose of his life and art.

“Fire’s on” by Arthur Streeton. 1891 oil on canvas 183.8 x 122.5 cm Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Purchased, 1893

Streeton lived from 1867-1943 and focussed primarily on local landscapes which often depict a love affair with all things Australian. His artwork has enormous appeal to the Australian public, consistently selling his original paintings to wealthy individuals and organisations.

He held a deeply romantic vision of nature.

Lesson 2. The artist increased the saturation and intensity of colour in his paintings, in line with the native environment.

In this famous Aussie painting titled “Fires On” Streeton at age 24 perfected the flood of hot summer sunlight as masculine labourers excavate a railway tunnel in the heat and dusty outback of Australia. The sky is a rich heavenly blue, the rocks are beautiful sandstone and the Australian gums stand tall as bronze green pillars.

Streeton loved Australia.

Lesson 3. The artist held a deep and passionate love affair with the subject matter

Around the same period, the European Impressionists would describe this new style of working outside the studio as ‘plein air’ painting. Whilst creating this masterpiece, Streeton was sitting in the Australian bush and he writes, “I felt near the gates of paradise”

Lesson 4. Aware of current trends in Europe, the painter followed popular artistic techniques of the time.

Streetons landscapes are deceptively simple.  But subtley brilliant. He kept his creative process simple and uncluttered, using perspective to perfection, leading the viewer’s eye in a premeditated direction.

Lesson 5. Perspective is used effectively to lead people into the painting.

His judgment of tonal colour values captivated large audiences in the 1800’s as he captured the brilliant light of Australian summer days. But also the changing characteristics and moods of natural light as the day came to a close.

Lesson 6. The artists simple but effective compositions, allowed for complexity and brilliance of results.

Like many of the 1800’s Australian paintings, popular artists of the time captured the wild and dangerous elements early pioneers faced building the country. Painters like Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Charles Conder depict a romantic vision of nation building, whereby rugged outback hardships were mostly glorified.

Lesson 7. The artists, their art and indeed the nation, flouorished under hardship creating a visual romance on the canvas

The early Australian painters were a passionate rugged bunch. It’s clear they were strongly patriotic. A new era was beckoning and they captured it on canvas. Life was hard as a pioneer. But the rough Australian outback has a certain appeal and these painters loved their time.

At exhibitions, large audiences flocked .

The artists love for Australian bush life and their tough romantic identity resonated with the Australian public during the 1800’s. And still does today.

Lesson 8. Love is infectious. If an audience is touched by a strong feeling, they’ll pay handsomely for it.


‘Sydney Tower’ (sold)
Acrylic and Oil on canvas, 2004

80cm x 60cm by Simon Brushfield
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