A SOON-TO-OPEN retrospective of an accomplished Bathurst artist will aim to bring back his "joy and exuberance".
(min cost $8)
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Steve Kirby - who for many years had a large studio on one of the upper floors of the old Tremain's Mill - died of cancer in 2010, just as his career was beginning to take off.
It has taken his partner, fellow artist Karen Golland, 12 years to feel ready to present the retrospective, Otherworlds, that will open at The Mill Art Gallery in the Tremain's precinct on Friday.
"It has been hard, working through grief as well as sorting and storing the huge collection of more than 200 paintings," she said.
"But this retrospective is bringing back the joy and exuberance of Steve's vision and practice."
Kirby's vivid paintings feature organic lines and patterns reminiscent of the microscopic world or textiles and his works are part of public and private collections in Australia and overseas.
In the catalogue essay for his 2008 show at the Bathurst Regional Gallery, cultural studies scholar Dr Margaret Mayhew said Kirby's paintings "embody a life-affirming delight in the world and the capacity of paint to stretch the eye and imagination of the viewer beyond a representation of the existing world into remaking new worlds and new possibilities of seeing, sensing and living".
While he often worked conventionally with oil paint and brush, Kirby also perfected a technique for applying oil paints using a hand drill, and created a hand-pumped air compressor for blowing paint around the canvas through a tube.
"Steve did not live to see the Tremain's Mill precinct converted into cafes and art spaces, but he would no doubt have enjoyed being able to show his work right next door in what used to be Bedwell's Feed Barn," Golland said.
Quercus (2007), one of the featured paintings in the show, was constructed by Kirby in his studio at the old Tremain's Mill, only to discover that he could not get it out the door.
Ecologist Ray Mjadwesch, who worked on the floor below, helped out by organising a forklift to retrieve it from the third-floor window.
Golland has exhibited extensively and is a board member of Sydney art gallery First Draft. In her show This Is For You at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery in 2016, she used small blocks of Kirby's work to create an interactive display.
In 2021, she was one of those named as a "Bathurst inspirational woman" for International Women's Day for her contribution to the arts.
The Kirby retrospective will be launched by Steve Birrell, who led the transformation of the mill in Keppel Street into an arts and cultural precinct.
The exhibition will open this Friday, September 2 at 6pm and will be open to the public on Saturday, September 3 from 10am to 4pm and Sunday, September 4 from 10am to 4pm.
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