Exhibition shines a light on years of artistic endeavour

LOOKING BACK: Artist Rachel Ellis and Bathurst Regional Art Gallery acting curator Julian Woods. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 060418cbrag1
LOOKING BACK: Artist Rachel Ellis and Bathurst Regional Art Gallery acting curator Julian Woods. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 060418cbrag1

AMID all the activity at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery this week as a new exhibition was installed, Rachel Ellis cut a contemplative figure.

The Bathurst artist – who has captured landscapes, streetscapes and seasons – will have more than 40 paintings and drawings on show from this weekend in Sustaining Light, which is being described as the first major survey of her work to be put on display in Australia.

She could be forgiven for feeling nostalgic or melancholy, even a bit uncertain or apprehensive.

Surrounded by works in various states of unpacking, however, she struggled to put into words how it felt to see so much of her art again.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to exhibit, but nervous,” she said.

“It's a strange feeling.

“But it is strangely helpful for looking forwards with how to consolidate my work into the future; to give me a path as to what to do next.”

Seeing all the works again was an opportunity to “re-evaluate what you want to say”, she said, and a chance to “distil what it is I want to communicate into the future”.

The exhibition has been more than 18 months in the making, according to Bathurst Regional Art Gallery’s acting curator Julian Woods.

A lot of that time had been spent finding the owners of the works – which have been chosen for their depiction of local scenes – and organising for them to be loaned to the gallery.

One work has come from as far away as South Australia, Mr Woods said, seven or eight have come from Melbourne and a few from Sydney.

More locally, works have been loaned to the exhibition from Forbes, Eugowra and Wallerawang.

STREET SCENE: Rachel Ellis' Bentinck Street, Bathurst 2017, which is part of the Collection of NSW Parliament.

STREET SCENE: Rachel Ellis' Bentinck Street, Bathurst 2017, which is part of the Collection of NSW Parliament.

He said works for the exhibition feature Bathurst, Hill End, Rockley, Limekilns Road and Eglinton, among other locations.

The exhibition’s title refers to the artist’s striving to capture the light that falls on her subjects, transforming everyday scenes into something else.

Mr Woods says the works “reveal a careful and meticulous study of light, form and colour, and encourage us to see the world around us in a new and fresh way”.

Ms Ellis, who has lived in the Bathurst district since 2001, has been recognised many times for her work, receiving the Art Gallery of NSW Dyason Bequest Cite Internationale des Arts Paris studio residency in 1998, the Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing in 2006 and the NSW Parliament House Plein Air Painting Prize in 2017.

Sustaining Light was opened on Friday night by local architect Tony McBurney.

It will be exhibited at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery until August 5.