I'm a freelance writer, living in the Mooloolaba area, and enjoying the chance to promote its attractions.
Published October 28th 2012
Impressions of an Impressionistic Art Studio
What is a holiday without a visit to an art gallery? Answer: An artless affair (pun intended). Solution: Visit an art gallery.
One to visit in Mooloolaba is Wayne Strickland's. The "gallery" is, in fact, Wayne Strickland's studio workshop, five modest rooms up a staircase, tucked in behind some shops opposite the Sandcastles apartments on River Esplanade. Look for Wayne's huge blue whale mural covering a wall leading to the gallery. Open most days, entry is free, dress is casual, and it makes for an interesting 'look-see' between coffees and swims.
First thoughts upon entering is you've come upon a jumble-sale. The floorboards are bare and paint-spattered throughout, and crowding the tables and walls and corners are paintings and sketches, models and sculptures, and the 'tools of trade' - easels, paint pots, brushes, and picture frames. Then there's the artist himself, welcoming and unassuming, and probably at some 'work-in-progress', from which, as he works, he'll talk about his art pieces and art as an industry.
That was the situation when I first met Wayne, only he was outside on the lawn next to his studio running a blow torch over a bronze 'horse and jockey' figurine on a table there. On my return visit a week later he was inside, smoothing off a doll-sized wax figurine, one of a set sitting on his worktable. It's fascinating to breathe and feel the world in which artworks come to life.
Wayne Strickland is an accomplished artist. His studies range from portraits to landscapes, from figurines to monumental bronze statues, and over the years, his paintings and sculptures have won awards. The National Gallery of Victoria has exhibited some of his works, as has the U.S.A.'s White House.
Nearer to you, first hand, you can see a metre long bronze sculpture of a humpback whale and its calf as you enter the gallery. In the park at the river-mouth end of Parkyn Parade, there's his larger-than-life bronze "Monument to Fishermen" statue. For more history and works, visit Wayne's own website Wayne Strickland Art Gallery.
Wayne has a reputation for equestrian works. You'll see some of his horse paintings and equine sculptures in the gallery. For more, you'll have to visit the Stockman's Hall of Fame in Queensland and the Victorian Racing Museum.
The studio is also a classroom. Wayne has been teaching art for decades. His current course is about Tonal Impressionism (think Renoir and Degas). Students attend semester long (two months) weekly evening lessons for $180. Individual lessons are also available. Wayne directed me to an example of the style in the gallery's largest room. "Take a look at the 'waves' painting," he said. It covered the entire back wall, almost. Evocative and big.
This gallery is not about quiet contemplation of softly lit hangings and sculptures. No, it is about something more immediate, more tangible. This gallery is a step into the working world of the artist and his studies. Now, that's something special, and what artful holidayer doesn't seek that?