The Canberra artist who is happy to be middle of the road - at least for this painting
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The Canberra artist who is happy to be middle of the road - at least for this painting

The lone man perched this week on a chair in the middle of Adelaide Avenue, just south of the Lodge and Parliament House, was not a solo protester.

He was, in fact, Canberra artist Christopher Oates who was happily putting the finishing touches to a painting for an upcoming exhibition.

Canberra artist Christopher Oates works on a painting in the middle of six-lane Adelaide Avenue.

Canberra artist Christopher Oates works on a painting in the middle of six-lane Adelaide Avenue.Credit:Megan Doherty

The painting, Adelaide Avenue Autumn, was obviously started some time ago but Oates wanted to finetune some details that don't change with the seasons, such as the light poles, for the view down the road towards Parliament House.

The work is part of the exhibition Infrastructure which will be at the M16 gallery in Griffith from October 19 to November 5.

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The painting artist Christopher Oates was working on in the middle of Adelaide Avenue on Wednesday.

The painting artist Christopher Oates was working on in the middle of Adelaide Avenue on Wednesday.Credit:Megan Doherty

The exhibition comprises "landscapes of contemporary Canberra with a focus on the interaction of bush, gardens, buildings and infrastructure".

Oates likes to show the contrast between the built environment and "the confusion of foliage".,

A particular inspiration is the "uniquely clear light of Canberra".

He is also "fascinated by the architecture of Canberra, by its streetscapes and by the whole concept of a city growing out of the wilderness".

Canberra artist Christopher Oates' tools of his trade in his unusual workspace - the middle of Adelaide Avenue - on Wednesday.

Canberra artist Christopher Oates' tools of his trade in his unusual workspace - the middle of Adelaide Avenue - on Wednesday.Credit:Megan Doherty

The middle of a major, six-lane road is probably not the most peaceful of environments to paint, but it's just part of the process for Oates.

"Some people beep, others yell out," he said.

The retired public servant works in gouache on paper, his little paint-splattered wooden box holding the tools of his trade, resting on the grass beside him.

A resident of Canberra for more than 40 years after moving from Melbourne, Oates had his first solo exhibition in 2011. His work is included in the ACT Legislative Assembly art collection. He now half-jokes he makes enough from his work "to pay for paints".

For more details go to christopheroates.com.au.

Megan Doherty is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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