The latest from handmark articles

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.

Vale Robyn McKinnon ― 1953 – 2024

Published 28 March 2024

It is with deep sadness we acknowledge the passing of one of our beloved artists, Robyn McKinnon.Robyn was an artist who painted from the front room of her house in Launceston and art was her life. Everything revolved around this.I was introduced to her work in the early 2000s when I first took over Handmark Gallery and in 2007 asked to represent her as part of the Handmark stable.Robyn could paint anything and indeed did and had great fun doing so.Many will remember her canvases covered in little houses, each unique.Also very interested in our environment and political debate, I have fond memories of enjoying one of Robyn’s signature “miniature house” paintings with log trucks lining the streets.Her work, Mrs Vermeer’s Kitchen was collected by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, a very special piece, where the “tiny houses” were substituted with kitchen utensils. This work was chosen by international curators to feature in ‘Theatre of the World’, MONA’s opening exhibition, and hung prominently in the first gallery for everyone to admire.Robyn was also given a Survey Exhibition at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in 2018 where her eminent career was celebrated.All of Robyn’s work brought joy and wonder to many, and her many paintings of abundant flower gardens were deeply coveted for their detail, colour and beauty.Robyn, thank you for being a friend and a much-admired artist.Allanah DopsonDirector

Artwork detail: Paradise, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 90 cm

jewellery feature ― janine combes

Published 9 March 2024

Image Details: Janine Combes, Words for Place, 2024, necklace, engraved marine plywood, ink, sterling silver

Rich blue, vibrant magenta and bright green. The stunningly creative jewellery of Janine Combes takes on an electric palette as she explores an exciting new medium.In This Place Janine retains her signature trademarks of inscribed words and organic shapes. But in a bold new direction, she produces gorgeous necklaces, earrings and brooches crafted from Tasmanian timbers which have been ink-stained in vibrant colours. “I have traditionally worked with metals but I am becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental footprint of this valuable resource,” Janine explains. “My partner builds wooden boats and I decided to recycle his off-cuts. Pieces left over and abandoned by other hands.”This Place explores our connection to the world around us, and one of Janine’s hero pieces, her statement necklace Words for Place, encapsulates this to perfection as “text, land and seascapes merge.” A studio on Bruny Island is Janine’s creative space, and this necklace is crafted from rough-hewn pieces of wood stained a sea-blue “that remind us of Tasmania’s rugged coastline.”Words carved into the wood echoing the meaning of place, tumble over the edge. “In life we never see the whole thing, just part of the story.” Janine’s beautiful pieces are treasures worthy enough to be handed down through the generations: “Wearing these artworks we signal a sense of belonging.”Janine Combes jewellery exhibition This Place opens at Handmark Gallery on Thursday, March 7 and runs until March 18.

View exhibition here.

glover eve exhibition ― celebrating our landscape

Published 9 March 2024

Image details: Martin Rek, Misty Boulders, Mount Wellington National Park, 2023, watercolour, carbon pencil, 22.5 x 28 cm

Celebrating our Landscape showcases many of your favourite artists, including Martin Rek who reminisces as he finds himself far from home.This Friday the Glover Prize is announced. The night before Handmark unveils a special landscape exhibition, showcasing different works to those at the recent Evandale pop-up. “The Glover is Australia’s penultimate landscape award, and the biggest event on Tasmania’s arts calendar,” Handmark Director Allanah Dopson enthuses. “And, this year with four Handmark artists – Rebecca Coote, Chantale Delrue, Melanie McCollin-Walker, and Luke Wagner – as finalists, we have an extra special reason to celebrate.”Celebrating our Landscape includes five poignant pieces by Martin Rek which perfectly capture Tasmania’s wild beauty. Most interestingly, these watercolour and pencil works were done after Martin relocated to Scotland. “I found myself reminiscing about what was left behind, and these are a collection of some of my favourite places in Tasmania,” Martin tells us from Edinburgh. “My recent move to Scotland to be closer to family in Europe, is naturally lending itself to an exploration of loss, remembering, and reimagining.”As Martin reflects, beautifully detailed wilderness springs to life. In Misty Boulders, Mount Wellington, wind bent trees and giant rocks are shrouded in fog, while a cold mist cloaks a still river in Silence, Frenchman’s Cap. These are scenes from Tasmania, but could just as easily be Scotland. “It’s curious how life has its way of changing ones path suddenly.”Celebrating Our Landscape exhibition opens at Handmark Gallery on Thursday, March 7 and runs until March 18. It also features jewellery by Janine Combes.

View exhibition online here.

upcoming exhibition ― jennifer marshall

Published 9 March 2024

Image details: Jennifer Marshall, Storm Triptych, 2024, oil on linen, 137 x 183 cm

In 1962 Jennifer exhibited for the first time. This month the nationally acclaimed painter and printmaker will hold a solo exhibition of new landscapes to mark her 80 th birthday. “The way we see things in later life is so different to the way we see them when we are young,” Jennifer says. “At my age you don’t have to prove anything and can take risks, which is very liberating.” Conversations showcases Jennifer’s breadth of talent as she ranges from large oils to watercolours on paper, woodcuts and etchings.Shrugging off popular convention, Jennifer’s art is also proudly devoid of any narrative. “I am not telling a story or dealing with an issue. Each piece is simply a visual statement that will hopefully trigger in the viewer a memory or emotional response. They are imaginary spaces where something mysterious takes place.”Swathed in moody blues, Jennifer employs familiar Tasmanian motifs of wild seas and rugged coastlines to create drama and movement. Towering cliffs stand guard as a wild storm approaches in From the Sea, a powerful etching almost two metres wide. Sea Gazer takes on a contemplative mood as we view the small figure of a woman in silent conversation with the sea: “The sea is always moving and alive, and we find ourselves staring out over the water and asking all sorts of questions about life.”Jennifer Marshall’s solo exhibition Conversations will run at Handmark Gallery from March 22 until April 8. 

Receive exhibition preview here.

drawing praise ― kaye green

Published 19 February 2024

image: kaye green, a secure and calm tree surrounded by an interesting light, 2019, lithograph, 29 x 42 cm, edition of 12

Handmark Artist, Kaye Green, has made the final cut in a national drawing prize. Best known for her Japanese inspired prints, Kaye relished the chance to return to the pure art of drawing.

“I love the directness of drawing onto beautiful paper,” Kaye explains. “It is like an extension of my body as I touch the paper with my hands and rub with my fingers,” Describing drawing as her first love, Kaye has been shortlisted for Sydney’s Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize for her moody Solitary Tree with Guardian Moon.

And it seems inspiration strikes anywhere. Kaye was driving home through suburban Hobart during a brewing storm, when a lone tree – literally – stopped her in her tracks. “A blanket of dark enveloped everything, and I suddenly felt that me and that solitary tree were alone in the world. I stopped the car and madly started sketching.” A low moon hung in the sky, and Kaye felt “a deep connection to both the tree and the guardian moon” as she realised “the tree shared my feelings of nervous anticipation as the storm drew near.”

Whether she is immersed in drawing or her much loved prints, Kaye’s Japanese aesthetic never leaves her side. “My work celebrates a meditation on elements in nature – on a rock, a tree or its shadow, a hill, the moon, clouds or the wind.”

glover prize season ― handmark honours + landscape pop-up

Published 19 February 2024

Handmark is thrilled to announce that four of its talented artists have been shortlisted for this year’s Glover, Australia’s most prestigious landscape prize. And if you are keen to join the Glover excitement, pencil in Handmark’s landscape pop-up exhibition at Evandale.Every March art lovers throng to historic Evandale, home of colonial painter John Glover. This year the prize in his honour drew a record 740 entries, and we are thrilled that Handmark artists, Rebecca Coote, Chantale Delrue, Melanie McCollin-Walker and Luke Wagner are among the 42 finalists.Beautiful Evandale comes alive as ‘Glover Fever’ strikes. And Handmark is in the midst, hosting its annual Celebrating our Landscape pop-up during Glover Prize season. “This is one of our favourite events,” Handmark Director, Allanah Dopson enthuses. “As well as showcasing all of your Handmarkfavourite artists, we also highlight wonderful new talents like abstract painter Jeewan Suwal. But as well as our great art, you can also expect some great fun!”The opening night of Handmark’s Celebrating our Landscape pop-up is a big event. Held at the Clarendon Arms Hotel, you are invited to join Handmark for dinner and live music. Could there be a more perfect reason for a weekend away in the beautiful northern midlands? Fabulous Tasmanian food, wine, music and art!Handmark’s Celebrating our Landscape pop-up opens on Friday February 23 at the Clarendon Arms in Evandale.Join us for dinner with bookings on: 6391 8181 or [email protected]. The exhibition runs until March 27.

melissa smith — the silence that follows

Published 19 February 2024

image: melissa smith, the shadow and the soul, 2023, intaglio print and stencil on magnani paper, 66 x 55.5 cm, unique state

After a roller-coaster ride, Melissa Smith returns to her sacred space at Lake Sorell. She finds peace amongst the silent landscape and emerges with a powerful new body of prints.

Over the past 18 months Melissa lost both parents and welcomed her first grandchild. “There has been chaos in my personal life, and I needed to go back to Lake Sorell to collect my thoughts and re-focus.” This triggered an artistic awakening that inspired the 17 works in her The Silence that Follows exhibition. “These prints continue to add to the story of my relationship with this isolated and special environment.”

Melissa is one of Australia’s most revered printmakers, and this exhibition is special. Ten works are one-off unique state prints. They include large Quadriptychs consisting of four panels. Between Breaths, a haunting panorama of bush and lake, was a finalist in the Burnie Print Prize. Nuanced details and a complexity of lines brings a new depth of layering to Melissa’s work. Another, Collecting Thoughts – Lake Sorell, a finalist in the Geelong Art Prize, takes us on an emotional journey as she heads back to that familiar place “to bring balance back into life.”

But Melissa has also unearthed a new freedom of expression: “The line has been released. In earlier works they have been more confined and controlled, but in this exhibition my lines have become very exploratory.”Melissa Smith’s The Silence that Follows exhibition runs at Handmark from February 16 until March 4. Join Melissa for her Artist Talk on Sunday February 25, 2 – 3pm.

upcoming exhibition ― faridah cameron

Published 29 January 2024

Revisiting her old stamping ground and seeing it though new eyes, sparked an artistic awaking in Faridah Cameron which prompted a beautiful body of new work.

Faridah spent formative years in the Northern Territory, but when she recently returned things were not as they had been. People and places had changed, but it was the desert which left the lasting impression. Faridah had only ever witnessed a dry outback, but heavy rain had transformed it into an inland sea teeming with life. She went home and painted. The results will soon be unveiled in her stunning solo exhibition; Life is Not Still.

Just like a desert mirage, things are not what they seem: “Gradually I realised that the paintings were not about place, but rather about the illusion of permanence. They are not about my journey back to the Northern Territory, but about the journey all of us are making through time and space, constantly adjusting to the new and unforeseen”.

Faridah steps into uncharted territory in Life is Not Still. In the six small works, her Stone Series, signature thread-like patterns give way to uninhibited watery delights. Stronger colours are replaced with translucent tinges of grey and blue as Faridah plays around with smooth stones and water. “The stones were just like the ones we used to pick up on Darwin’s beaches, but this time we couldn’t find any. Everything changes, but in the natural order beauty and harmony remain.”

Faridah Cameron’s Life is Not Still Exhibition runs from January 26 until February 12.

bumper year ― 2024 exhibitions

Published 29 January 2024

Handmark has a fantastic calendar of upcoming exhibitions and we also welcome a new artist, Susan Simonini to our Handmark stable.

Two major milestones are being honoured “In February Melissa Smith will have a solo exhibition to mark her 60 th birthday, and in March the focus moves to Jennifer Marshall who turns 80.”

Handmark also introduces Susan Simonini who has just joined the Gallery. She is holding a solo exhibition in April. “A well-known and highly respected painter and ceramicist, Susan is a great addition to our talented team. Her work is bold, fresh and vibrant and she has an impressive list of artistic achievements, including twice being a Glover finalist.”

Susan moved to Tasmania five years ago, swapping the bustle of Brisbane for rural paradise in the north-west. “Since re-locating I have been approached by mainland galleries,” Susan reveals. “But I feel so at home in Tasmania that I wanted to join a local gallery, and am thrilled to be part of Handmark.” Painting is Susan’s current focus, and we were given a taste of her textured geometric works in the Summer Salon. We can’t wait until April.

We will be releasing our full exhibition program in the coming weeks… stay tuned!