Chance for local artists to blossom

Exhibition showcases Canberra's talent, Claire Low writes

It's an egalitarian kind of exhibition. With no selection criteria, The Canberra Times Art Show allows for everyone from complete novices to old hands to find their space on the wall at the Federation Ballroom of Hyatt Canberra.

Among the hundreds of creations on display from tomorrow will be the work of a former calligrapher, a make-up artist, and a retired ad man who loves to add coins and shells to sheets of perspex.

Guest artist Elizabeth Faul, of Hughes

The Canberra-born artist has been invited to be a part of this year's show. She paints backgrounds in gouache and adds calligraphic elements and fine details in pencil or pen. The former professional calligrapher developed her love of art when undertaking a graphic design degree at the University of Canberra under the tutelage of illustration teacher Julie Bradley.

''I fell in love with art,'' Faul says. ''I still value things that can be done by hand.''

Through her art, she likes to tell the stories of the places of her travels, such as Venice and Paris. She is also involved with dog rescue charity ARF (ACT Rescue and Foster) and likes to uses canines as subjects.


They are compelling because ''they've got an interesting secret life and personalities that, if you're too busy, you don't necessarily see''.

The pooches of Paris and Venice were spotted ''doing normal things Parisians and Venetians do, like waiting for a boat or sniffing around the suburbs looking for things. You can find them in a nice quiet moment when they're enjoying a bit of sunshine on a cold day''.

Faul is exhibiting 14 artworks this year and hopes those who look upon them will have memories triggered.

''They will think, 'Oh, I've been to that part of Paris, I've had that sort of macaron or chocolate,'' she says.

''There are things we all share that we can recognise through art.

''Dozens of people will be there who I will never meet, but they'll know a little part of me when they remember their own trip, their own experience, their own dog.''

Artist Katie Penn, of O'Connor

Penn, who has painted for a couple of years, has a background in interior design and make-up artistry. Her passion for portraiture comes from her interest in faces.

Penn, also a student of naturopathy by correspondence, is studying facial structures and anatomy, which also feeds into her portraiture.

She bases the faces she paints on real-life people, then exaggerates their features ''so they come from my imagination as well''.

''Every artist has a certain signature style to their work,'' she says. ''That's my style - that exaggeration of forms.''

Penn derives inspiration from fashion and beauty media as well as architecture.

One of her aims with her portraiture is to create art with a decorative function.

''I want to create something you could put in an area of your room you're sort of proud of,'' she says. When not painting, she crafts rag dolls and cushions out of recycled clothing.

Artist Nick Spinocchia, of Giralang

He says he's had art in him for a long time, but it's not until recently that he's had time to bring to life his ideas. Spinocchia, who started in advertising, became a journalist, then joined the public service, is now endowed with time thanks to retirement. His mixed-media collages start out a perspex sheet which he frames. He adds found objects such as gum leaves, seashells, egg shells, stamps and international coins.

He embellishes his work with colour and seals the whole thing with polyester resin for a gloss finish. Spinocchia works with themes such as wealth, abundance and greed, and the cyclical, regenerative nature of life in forests. The artwork he considers his best features the Chinese symbol for ''double happiness'', used as a wedding icon. He titled his work Forgive and forget, ''for all the couples in the world''.

The Canberra Times Art Show is on from tomorrow from noon-5pm, and then runs daily from 9am-5pm until March 14. The annual event displays more than 550 works painted by about 250 regional artists, with funds raised to support Koomarri.