By Jen Gourley
IF YOU are looking for something special to do this summer, then why not check out the amazing new exhibition at Banana Shire Regional Art Gallery?
Australian landscapes, exotic scenes from Spain, brilliant birds, even a portrait of Australian icon Henry Lawson – all created by one gifted artist, Sir Lionel Lindsay, and under the one roof for us to admire and enjoy.
Brother to fellow artist, Norman Lindsay, Lionel (1874-1961) was renowned for his pictures made from intricate woodblock engravings and by 1927 he was considered the most internationally successful Australian printmaker of all time.
Robert Connell, Banana Shire Council’s new Arts and Cultural Advisor, says this touring exhibition from the Maitland Regional Art Gallery Collection in New South Wales, is definitely worth a visit.
Firstly, there’s the local angle. Robert (pictured) explained that our area has a connection to Lionel Lindsay’s art, with a couple of his pieces on display at Greycliffe Homestead in Biloela. Then there’s the superb landscapes of the Australian countryside and the exotic scenes from Lionel’s travels through Spain. And then there’s Lionel’s feathered friends.
“One thing that is highly popular, always, is a lot of the bird works,” Robert said. “They’re absolutely stunning.” Peacocks, kookaburras, pheasants, ducks, swans, pelicans and more are perched on the walls of the gallery waiting for you to admire them.
And then there’s the incredible attention to detail. “People think they’re just drawings or paintings, instead they’re actually wood engravings on woodblock and then printed onto a piece of paper. He’s carved into the woodblock itself, and then he has put on ink or paint, and then he’s pressed that into the paper, and the impression has left the artwork itself. And then he may have created 10 to 100 of those. And then he would have either most likely destroyed the blocks so none could ever be reproduced. The majority, that’s about 130 of the works here, are actual prints themselves. And the detail you can get if you look at some of these earlier works, you can actually see the block itself engrained into the paper, which is quite beautiful. In his later works you can see that he’s learned to be a lot lighter with the press, which is quite interesting.”
One special element of the travelling exhibition is that three incredibly rare woodblocks that Lionel has carved into are part of the collection. “We’ve got the blocks and the artworks next to each other on display. So, you get a sense then of how it’s done,” Robert said.
“The beautiful thing about the blocks and the artworks, because they are quite small, was his ability to actually take the blocks and sit down (which is known as plein air, when you sit down and you paint a picture, or draw a picture there), he would sit with the block and carve it then and there as he was looking at the scene … his genius is that when he’s carving the block, he literally would have to carve it backwards because if you’re carving into the block, and then you print it, then it’s going to be the flip side.
“We’ve also got four to five watercoloured pictures in this exhibition – two landscapes of Australia and three, when he was travelling overseas. They’re quite special and different to see the span of his works.
“I think it’s just amazing to see such a large body of works, over 132 works, by the same artist in the one place.”
Lionel’s Place can be viewed at the Banana Shire Regional Art Gallery at 67 Valentine Plains Rd, Biloela until February 25, 2022.