Naturally Diverse

By Janene Carey

Decades-long friendships, a shared love of nature and a highly successful show at Nexus Gallery last year underpin a new exhibition at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.

Called ‘Natural Diversity’, the display of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and ceramics runs from May 11 to July 5, featuring works by Carol Simons, Sandy Robinson, Chetan Bloemhard, Carole Helman and Penel Gamble.

Each artist brings a distinctive style to the exhibition, while sharing with the others a delight in the natural world.

“We’re all inspired by nature, but in a lot of different ways,” Carole said. “Penel used to illustrate children’s books, so she tells stories with her art. It’s quirky, fun, and often includes birds or animals.

“Carol’s work is about moods and atmospheres in nature. It’s often more suggestive than specific. And Chetan lives at Bundagen and does beautiful landscapes and seascapes that evoke the feeling of a place.”

Carole’s own works spring from detailed observation of things like leaves, lichens, rocks and trees.

“I look for beautiful patterns in nature, that’s what grabs my eye,” she said.

Weaving it all into a unified whole are Sandy’s organic ceramics, with earthy colours and themes complementing the works hanging on the walls.

“Sandy knows the works we’re putting into the exhibition and she decorates her pots to tie it all together,” Carole said.

Some of the women have been friends for over 30 years, but the kernel of the current group formed in 2012, when Penel, Carol and Carole decided to enrol in a visual arts certificate course at TAFE.

In August/September the five of them had their first joint exhibition, ‘A Natural Selection’, at Bellingen’s Nexus Gallery.

“It went really well,” Carole said. “Lots of people came, a lot of the work sold, it gave the gallery a big boost after the COVID lockdown.”

WHAT Natural Diversity Exhibition
WHERE Dorrigo Rainforest Centre
WHEN Now until 5 July

Return of the Eagle by Penel Gamble