Art is flourishing in the Upper Hunter!
Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre with the attached Artiste Cafe is a large public gallery open Tuesday to Sunday. Haydon Hall in Murrurundi is open Thursday to Sunday and is renowned for its delicious food. Michael Reid Murrurundi is a gallery and coffee shop exhibiting stunning works from local, national and international artist and is open Friday to Sunday. Brook Gallery in Brook St, Muswellbrook, exhibits local artists from the Upper Hunter and is open Friday to Sunday. Local artist Amanda Paradise has a gallery on Liverpool St in Scone which exhibits her art, jewellery and interior decor and is open Thursday to Sunday. Open all week, David Mahony Art Gallery and Sculpture Park in Sandy Hollow is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy a light meal. If you are in Scone, keep your eye out for exhibitions at the beautifully restored church which is home to the Scone Arts and Craft Centre.
Step back in time
Museums, old wold charm and 19th century heritage sites tell the story of early life in the Upper Hunter. Spend the night in a 19th Century homestead such as Belltrees, Kerrabee and Segenhoe Inn. Pay respect to the 12th Light Horse Regiment in Murrurundi. View old relics of yesteryear in the historical museums of Merriwa, Muswellbrook and Scone. Pick up a Historical Walks map from the local Visitor Information Centre. Following these ton walks will reveal many of the historical buildings dating from 1850s onwards that were built as the towns grew and prospered.
While Upper Hunter lends itself to self drive tours, why not sit back and let the experts show you around. Upper Hunter Tours offer exclusive access to some of the world's famous thoroughbred horse studs, as well as local wineries and scenic tours of the surrounding areas. If it's a birds eye view you're seeking, Pays Air Charter offer group charters and joy flights by both helicopter and small planes out of Scone Airport. Bu sure to visit the Warbirds Museum while you are there. Airspeed Aviation also offer scenic tours of the area including the Upper Hunter Explorer, Mountain Rambler, Lunch on the Beach and The Works!
The 'Custodians of the Landscape' sandstone sculpture collection was carved onsite at the Two Rivers vineyard in the winter of 2015 by renowned English artist Ben Dearnley. Ben has earned an international reputation for creating stunning sculptures in stone, bronze, slate and stained glass. He has complete many large-scale public and private works and they can be found across the globe.
The 'Custodians of the Landscape' project saw Ben work with sandstone for the first time and these carvings directly reference the ancient art form of stone masonry whilst reflecting the dramatic landscape at Two Rivers.
So how did an Englishman who lives on the west coast of Wales end up spending 12 weeks on a vineyard in the Upper Hunter? It all started back in 2007 when Ben was in Australia to catch up with his mother Bridget who retired to Denman many years ago. During this visit they spent the afternoon at the Two Rivers Cellar Door.
After enjoying a glass of wine and a cheese platter, Ben took a stroll through the vineyard to the top of the hill where he discovered a collection of sandstone boulders that had been unearthed during the construction of the vineyard many years ago. Ben's creative mind went into overdrive and he formulated a plan where he could return to Australia to embark on a major sculpture project while at the same time spend some quality time with Bridget.
He contacted Brett & Linda Keeping from Two Rivers and they agreed it was a perfect synergy to create something spectacular for their cellar door and the project was born.
All the sandstone was sourced from Two Rivers property with more than 28 tonnes being used to create this unique and compelling project. Whilst crafting these pieces, Ben immersed himself in the working of the vineyard and the local community, sharing his skills and knowledge with visitors, school groups and other fellow artists.
Ben says that the flowing dynamic nature of the sculptures reflects the ever-changing moods and seasons of the vineyard where growing the vines is a labour of love in tune with nature itself. The collection of nine pieces of individual handcrafted sandstone all tie into the collections theme of 'looking after the landscape'.
Brett and Linda Keeping established the Two Rivers vineyard in 1988. Twenty-seven years on, Two Rivers has become one of the premier vineyards of the Hunter Valley and is known for producing distinctive regional wines that over deliver on quality and value.
Brett and Linda are strong believers in the philosophy that great wines are made in the vineyard and are truly passionate about their vines and their place in the Hunter Valley. Sustainable viticultural practices are at the heart of Two Rivers and the years of hard work are certainly paying off in the wine show circuit.
Two Rivers have amassed many trophies and numerous gold medals in recent years with their signature Stones Throw Semillon leading the way.
"Having an artist of Ben's calibre here at Two Rivers has been an absolute privilege," Brett Keeping said. "Ben immediately understood our connection to the land here and this is beautifully reflected in his work."
The Muswellbrook Local Art Awards are an annual competition which offers local artists from Muswellbrook, Singleton, and Upper Hunter Shires the opportunity to show off the cream of their work from the past twelve months.
A total prize value of $6,000 is split over six disciplines. Each year a different guest adjudicator is invited to judge the entries received.
The Muswellbrook Local Art Awards has six prize categories:
• Viola Bromley Painting Prize - incorporating the Hunter Valley Printing Encouragement Prize
• Garry Philp Works on Paper - incorporating the Elks Enterprises Encouragement Prize
• Local 3D Prize - incorporating the Max Watters Encouragement Prize
• Local Photography Prize – incorporating the Hunter Valley Hydraulink Encouragement Prize
• Local Aboriginal Art Prize – incorporating the Berry & French Pharmacy Encouragement Prize
• Esther Bellis Youth Prize – incorporating the Framing Good Encouragement Prize
The Muswellbrook Local Art Awards 2016 attracted 169 entries. Artists and their friends and families from Muswellbrook, Singleton and the Upper Hunter, were present at 6.00pm Saturday 5 November 2016 to hear the decisions of adjudicator Pam Brown, Exhibitions and Collections Officer at Tamworth Regional Gallery. The winners for each of the six categories were as follows.
Viola Bromley Painting Prize
First Prize #43 Roberta Wiseman, Gundamulda (Rocky Outcrop)
Second Prize #27 Mitchell O’Mahoney, Double Dennis
Hunter Valley Printing Encouragement Prize #12 Charlotte Drake-Brockman, Toy Statement
Garry Philp Works on Paper Prize
First Prize #64 Naomi Norris, Jazzy
Second Prize #47 Teresa Byrne, Rooster
Elks Enterprises Encouragement Prize #68 Denee Pashen, Grandma’s Favourite
Local 3D Prize
First Prize #87 Lyneece Garland, Leather Carved Handbag
Second Prize #91 William Maguire, Contrary
Man Max Watters Encouragement Prize #97 Jonanne Van Hees, Crystal Angel
Local Photography Prize
First Prize #120 Naomi Norris, The 3 R’s
Second Prize #111 Jessica Dugan, Childs Play
Hunter Valley Hydraulink Encouragement Prize #118 John Hodges, Barkscape #2
Local Aboriginal Art Prize
First Prize #135 Ella Death, Jarjum
Second Prize #139 Michael Stair, Wayambas-Turtle
Berry & French Pharmacy Encouragement Prize #140 Jack Whitby, Legacy Esther Bellis
First Prize #158 Luke Morris, Engulfed
Second Prize #144 Nicole Blackwell, Fish Framing
Good Encouragement Prize #159 William Partridge, Monkey Around
'The sky is falling' by Michelle Carpenter-Kludas and Jihye Min
Michael Reid at Murrurundi This joint exhibition by Michelle Carpenter-Kludas and Jihye Min draws inspiration from the English children's classic Henny Penny. Unlike the later, uplifting Americanised 'Chicken Little,' the original English fable, in which the birds are eaten by the fox, bears a stern warning not to believe everything one is told – to keep one's head, or lose it.
Neither artist has lost it. The hand of each artist is clearly present across the exhibition – the potter and the painter both presenting works that rouse a satisfying interplay of rich earthy textures, inky blacks and flashes of deep red.
The dripping glazes of Jihye's ceramics recall the weighty clouds of an approaching summer storm. The falling droplets providing a rhythmic texture which surrounds each vessel. The drips continue in Kludas' painting. Each work captures a unique personality in the painted birds – no doubt from a life time of raising them, studying their traits and knowing them as individuals. Kludas' birds seem to have heeded the warning of Henny Penny. They are noble, resisting the overwhelming urge to panic, despite the waiting fox.
Jihye Min has exhibited her works in Korea, New York, Washington, Antwerp, Melbourne and Sydney. She recently presented a clay-based performance piece at the National Gallery of Australia.
Michelle Kludas is an emerging artist, art-crafter and successful blogger, Michelle has a background in freelance photography and this is her second exhibition focusing on her practice in oil painting.
Exhibition Dates: Friday 6 November to Saturday 26 December 2015.
Venue: Michael Reid Murrurundi, Boyd St, Murrurundi.
Open: Friday to Sunday 11am to 5pm.
More details: Visit http://michaelreidmurrurundi.com.au or call 02 6546 6767.