The latest from handmark articles

alex wanders ― built beauty

Published 5 June 2024

Alex Wanders sees beauty in Hobart’s often overlooked, yet iconic, structures. And his painting of a distinctly Tasmanian gazebo has drawn national attention.

Hobart’s Railway Roundabout; the Cat & Fiddle Arcade; even the diving tower of the Aquatic Centre have all been lovingly recorded by Alex’s brush “I view these structures as cultural markers.” But, it’s his latest work, Gazebo – a tribute to a “simple structure that has seen so much” in the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Garden’s – that is really sparking interest.

Alex is a finalist in South Australia’s Fleurieu Biennale Art Prize. And, while the gazebo’s interesting shape caught his artistic eye, drama played out under its roof is the real inspiration. “Over the years people congregated here for all sorts of joyful events from picnics to weddings.”

But there is also a dark undercurrent, felt in the long shadows of this pared-back abstract. Gazebo is also about disconnect and place. In the 1880’s we imposed this little slice of Europe into our imposing Botanic Gardens. “The same place that would once have also been an important garden for our First Nations people.”

Image credit: Alex Wanders, Gazebo, Royal Botanical Gardens, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 114 x 114 cm

clifford how ― by invite only

Published 5 June 2024

Landscape Painter Clifford How is vying for an art prize, so prestigious, entry is by invitation only. What’s more, just 24 artists have made the cut.

The Kings School in Sydney is one of Australia’s most respected, and it’s Contemporary Art Prize with a $20,000 purse is hotly contested. John Olsen and Ben Quilty are past recipients, and this year it could be Clifford. “Out of the blue I received a phone call inviting me to take part, which is a great honour. Apparently one of the organisers had seen my work in the Sydney Contemporary,” he explains.

Clifford’s landscapes of wild Tasmania have won him a legion of fans, and for the Kings Prize he returned to a vista first spotted on the Overland Track. The result is Secluded with its stunning interplay “between the warm colours of the button grass and tannin in the lake with the cool palette of the misty backdrop.”

The Kings School Art Prize is announced in early June. But in October it’s our turn, when Clifford unveils new works in his solo Handmark exhibition in the Long Gallery, where a new technique has “produced a beautiful freshness and life to my work that I have not achieved before.”

Image credit: Clifford How, Secluded, 2024, oil on linen, 153 x 178 cm

handmark accolades ― prize finalists announced

Published 5 June 2024

Accolades galore for Handmark’s talented artists. Melissa Smith joins Kaye Green as a finalist in a major Tasmanian art prize, while Helen Mueller and Martin Rek are vying for Australia’s richest landscape award.

Hot on the heels of her win in the Women’s Art Prize – where judges praised the ‘delicacy and interplay of line’ – printmaker Melissa Smith is in the running for the Bay of Fires Art Prize. This year’s theme is ‘Sanctuary’ and Melissa again turns to her sacred highlands retreat in Tracing the Silence Lake Sorell. “It is always wonderful to be acknowledged for your work,” she says.

Kaye Green is also thrilled to be a Bay of Fires finalist and her ‘sanctuary’ is an abandoned stone cottage on Hobart’s Eastern Shore “which had a tree growing inside. It doesn’t exist anymore, but I remember seeing a sketch of it once,” Kaye explains. The result is her stunningly simple black and white lithograph, Tree-House House-Tree, where both provide sanctuary to each other.

With a $100,000 purse, Hobart’s Hadley’s Art Prize attracts fierce competition, and printmaker Helen Mueller impressed judges with Walking on Bruny 4.  No conventional landscape, Helen “feels her way inside this environment” where she seeks “rhythm in shades and shadows,” a concept she explores further in her Handmark exhibition, Forest Stories in October. Martin Rek is also a Hadley’s finalist, and while he currently lives in Scotland his evocative sketches echo a longing for wild Tasmania.

Image credit: Helen Mueller, Walking on Bruny no. 1, 2024, layered woodcut prints, unique state, 84 x 38 cm

return to tasmania — john lendis

Published 5 June 2024

Once again, Tasmanian Tigers haunt the paintings of John Lendis. But in his fabulous exhibition, “When Reason Sleeps, the Sirens Sing”, they share the canvas with other hunted creatures.

John is back on ‘home’ soil and brings precious cargo. Thirty-three new oil paintings bursting with evocative Tasmanian imagery, that are possibly his best-ever works. “I now live on the other side of the world, but this small island still has my heart,” he tells us over coffee after touching down from the UK. “So many of my special memories are forged here and they constantly bubble up in my art.”

In When Reason Sleeps the Sirens Sing John reaches towards a beauty that is unobtainable, like the Tasmanian Tiger which was hunted into extinction, “leaving a sweet sadness with its loss.” In The Thylacine’s Lament, eyes stare from a muted palette. In other paintings they join “fellow creatures on the outskirts of society which are also being culled,” like the three Fallow Deer which leap in harmony with a lone Thylacine in The Song of the Vermin.

John doesn’t seek answers or set out with a plan. “An image springs into my mind, and I often spend days chasing it around the canvas. A little bit of magic happens between the end of the brush when you dip it in paint and put it on the canvas.” We couldn’t agree more.

John Lendis “When Reason Sleeps, the Sirens Sing” exhibition will run at Handmark Gallery from May 24 until June 10.

up-and-coming ― emerging artist exhibition

Published 3 May 2024

image details: mel aliendi, let’s just sit here for a bit…, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 53 x 43 cm


abbie whitton | alex white | chloe catto | eloise lark | esther touber | emi pavlides | frances malcomson | jacob o’shannassy | jade irvine | joshua smith | joy mendel | katelyn geard | max mueller | mel aliendi | patricia coombe | phoebe wood-ingram | philip james mylecharane | qom hart | rhi hamilton | sevé de angelis | sharon o’donnell


Our small island is bursting with creativity. And one of my greatest joys is unearthing and supporting new talent.

For the past 17 years Handmark has held an Emerging Artist Exhibition which is one of our most eagerly anticipated events. For the 2024 showing – which opens this Friday – we are unveiling 21 fantastic “new” Tasmanian artists. I am thrilled that writer, artist and storyteller, Andrew Harper will open this very diverse exhibition.

All have something unique to say. Unfortunately, we can only profile a handful in this newsletter, so why don’t you join us on Friday to see the full exciting story!

Allanah Dopson,



up-and-coming | patricia coombe ― painter | urban landscape

Published 3 May 2024

image details: patricia coombe, hunter street precinct, 2023, oil on linen press paper, 65 x 70 cm

At the tender age of 65, Patricia Coombe is proof it’s never too late to pursue your passion. In her case, a unique perspective of Hobart streetscapes.

You could call Patricia a painter with a twist. She uses a complex process “where the oils are burnished into the paper to produce a print-like quality” and “triple pinhole photography brings transparent overlap” to create a distinct style. Add a monochromatic palette with sculptural forms and Patricia’s images “portray a nebulous atmospheric interpretation of urban space.”

Architecture is another passion, and Patricia employs geometric snatches of city shapes to break away from realism and merge into the abstract. In Hunter Street Precinct familiar scenes are re-imagined. The port control tower and a bank of windows creates a striking vista that is at once both familiar and a mystery. Hard to believe it was just five years ago that Patricia threw herself wholeheartedly into art: “This is much more than I had ever hoped for.”

up-and-coming | sharon o’donnell ― ceramics | altered state

Published 3 May 2024

image details: sharon o’donnell, teaset, 2023, midfire clay, dimensions variable

Things are definitely not what they seem when you gaze upon the intriguing ceramics of Sharon O’Donnell.

Inspired by cherished childhood memories of her father as he tinkered with cars, her work appears as weathered vessels crafted from tin, but the reality is something entirely different. Pick it up, and you are totally surprised to feel it is made of clay. “This process of wonder and engagement where a person is compelled to touch and feel my work is what inspires me,” Sharon reveals.

It was as a single mother, raising four sons, that Sharon had her epiphany. “When my boys were young a weekly three-hour ceramics class was my escape from reality, but it was also where my love affair with clay began.” Fast forward three years. Sharon threw herself into a fine arts degree and her ceramics practice. “I can never foresee a life without making art and developing my own voice.”

up-and-coming | alex white ― printmaker | hut history

Published 3 May 2024

image details: alex white, adamsfield hut, 2024, woodblock print, edition of 8, 60 x 90 cm

Emerging artist, Alex White, is committed to his craft. But he is also committed to documenting our bush heritage.

Tasmania’s wilderness is dotted with old huts that have provided shelter for drovers, trappers, miners and trekkers. But these are slowly being destroyed by the ravages of time and weather. Alex, a passionate bushwalker, has just produced a series of prints about his beloved huts. “In a way I am documenting a special part of Tasmania’s history before it is lost forever,” Alex tells us. “I don’t like presenting an idealised version of events, I re-create what is there right in front of me, bad weather and all.”

Working from his own photographs, Alex has produced a limited series of prints from rough-hewn wood carvings. “I chose this medium to emphasise the weathered texture of the materials used to construct each hut and their surrounding landscape.” Handmark’s Emerging Artist exhibition is the first showing for this 31-year-old artist, and his excitement is palpable: “It’s fantastic. Very exhilarating!”

up-and-coming | philip james mylecharane ― painter | portraits

Published 3 May 2024

image details: philip james mylecharane, self (head limb movement), 2024, oil on board, 41 x 50 cm

Philip is on a mission to bring portraiture which is “often overlooked and quietly lurking in the background” onto centre stage. “With so much focus on landscape, painting portraits is something that is missing in modern contemporary art. In fact, in many ways this is one of the most relevant forms of art today, as there is nothing more important than looking closely at ourselves.” And that’s exactly what Philip does.

In Self Philip explores his inner world. Oils painted onto board, allude to collages that are “not quite abstract and not quite realistic, leaving everything a little intangible.” He believes that “rather than emulate, painting can invent a way to understand and comprehend reality” and is excited to present his own unique style to a public audience. But Philip is just as excited to connect with other bright local talents in Handmark’s Emerging Artist exhibition.

susan simonini ― glimmer

Published 16 April 2024

image detail: new sensations, 2024, acrylic on polycotton, 122 x 122  cm

Bursting in a carnival of colours, you feel uplifted when you feast your eyes on the vibrant abstracts of Susan Simonini in Glimmer, her first Handmark exhibition. And it seems she has touched a nerve.

A recent émigré to the island state, Susan’s paintings are generating a buzz, both here and overseas. “I was recently picked up by a Gallery in London, and I am now being chased by another in New York.” Already a well-known artist, Susan credits the rural idyll of her new home in Tasmania’s north-west for sparking inspiration. “My style has certainly changed since moving here to escape the rat race, but the irony is I have never been busier!”

Glimmer, which Susan describes as “a moment that inspires happiness,” is the perfect name for her solo exhibition of new works. “When I paint, I’m in a state of unapologetic joy” and she captures this brilliantly with a vivid palette that vibrates with emotion “compelling our eyes to dance around the canvas.” But, if colour is the star of this show, Susan’s geometric abstraction is a stunning support act.

Susan’s graphic style is informed by the green farms that surround her studio. In Myriad, we gaze down on a patchwork of paddocks where irrigation pipes become hypnotic pinwheels of colour, and in New Sensations sensuous curves replicate tractor marks in lush fields. “This was the last painting I did for Glimmer, and it’s interesting to see how my style has evolved with my markings becoming looser and more spontaneous.”

These pieces hold a special place in Susan’s heart. “Art follows life, and my works have been ignited by my slower pace of life in rural Tasmania. They are the most authentic paintings I have ever done.”

Susan Simonini’s Glimmer exhibition runs at Handmark Gallery from April 12 – 29.