Adrienne and Bill were married for 50 years. They met at a medical students' ball in Sydney. His background is engineering but he is also a keen sculptor. This evening though, was all about the talented woman he married and the mother of their four children, who sadly died in 2007.
This is the first retrospective exhibition of Adrienne's work, lovingly curated by Bill with the help of his daughter Julie, who spoke briefly and eloquently at the opening of the "extraordinary talent" of her mother. Adrienne worked equally well in oils on canvas, watercolours, and linocuts, going everywhere with a little sketchbook under her arm, recording everything she came across with open eyes. Julie interestingly said that her art did not disrupt the family in any way. She did it when she could and of course, concentrated on it more once the children were older. In her shortened life, she produced some great work some of which can be seen today.
This must have been an emotionally wrenching time, for both Bill and Julie, but one with undoubted rewards as they look around the gallery and see her art so beautifully displayed. The exhibition was formally opened last night on the 21st of March and goes on until the 31of March. It seems a very short time for us to be able to enjoy her work, so I urge you to go along and see this exhibition while you can.
Adrienne was a visual artist for most of her life, first as a commercial artist in Sydney in the 50s and then, after a break to raise her four children, as a figurative painter in Brisbane. Her formal education was a Diploma at Queensland College of Art, followed by a Bachelor of Arts from Queensland University, in the 80s.
I asked Bill about the title of the exhibition and he said it was actually the thing that came most to mind when he looked at her work. Colour and light are central to the way she creates whether she was painting a watercolour or one of her splendid oils on canvas. Bill significantly had the job of stretching her canvases which clearly he loved doing for his wife.
They shared a love of nature and travel – but equally, they did not have to go far at all for Adrienne to create the most evocative scenes in her back garden effused with light and foliage. The light is quintessentially Queensland and it filters through the canopy of rainforest scenes or settles on the table of a still life painting, highlighting the flowers and fruit in their finest detail.
Equally of note are her landscapes, with strong and vibrant colours, like we see in the land around us, be they paintings of coves and beaches or inland with inky blue mountains in the background against a foreground of burnt earth.
There are landscapes and life drawings. There are watercolours and lovely smaller paintings of nature. Landscapes were a significant part of her output and featured scenes, not only from South East Queensland but also from Bundanon near the Shoalhaven River, Tasmania after a car tour, Ireland, UK and France after a walking holiday. Her particular love of the beauty of the sub-tropical environment of South East Queensland comes out and is one which we can all relate to. Her painting entitled 'Rendezvous' is one which I walked past about three times. On the first, an appreciation of the scene of a forest, on the second, watching the light filtering through to the ground, on the third, looking at why it was a rendezvous. I will leave that surprise for you to enjoy.
Adrienne taught painting and life drawing at TAFE, mentored recently graduated art students and conducted art workshops in Central Queensland.
She was well loved by family and friends and has been sorely missed. Given how difficult it must have been for the family to do this, I am so appreciative of the effort put into it, so that Adrienne's work is shared with us all, not left and forgotten, but celebrated and lauded. I, for one, have my eye on a still life I walked in front of repeatedly, marvelling at the way she had captured the essence of it superbly and thinking how utterly delightful and warming it would be to have one of her paintings in my home.