The Art of Local at Caloundra Regional Gallery

Image source: Contributed

Georgia Beard discovers how stories and experiences are captured and preserved in the Local Artists – Local Content Art Prize exhibition at Caloundra Regional Gallery. 

The Sunshine Coast is a growing ecosystem of relationships and memories. Each person flourishing from the soil holds a unique perspective of our region – a voice only they can speak.

As our community reflects on the past and embraces the future, showcasing these perspectives is crucial for remembering who we are and where we’ve chosen to plant roots. 

Every year, Caloundra Regional Gallery in partnership with the Friends Regional Gallery Caloundra, offers the chance for locals to reflect upon their connection to ‘place’ on the gallery wall.

From the ancient peaks of the Glass House Mountains to the shores spanning Caloundra to Noosa; the Local Artists – Local Content Art Prize reveals the biodiversity of not just our environments, but the experiences attached to them.

Forty established and emerging artists have been named finalists in this year’s competition, each expressing their understanding of the environment either through painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture in a variety of styles. 

They preserve natural landscapes on the canvas – the view from a countryside window, the banks of an untouched creek, the shoreline where locals wander in the morning. They shape emotion and memory into place through sculpture, universally understood and yet deeply personal.

Gallery Director, Jo Duke said that when viewed together, the forty finalists highlight the way our artists view, work and create in this region, from varied and unique natural landscapes, people and communities – all different ways to see, feel and connect.

“There is also the absolute pleasure of combining 2D and 3D within the one exhibition,” she said. “You will see artists who work with the more traditional mediums such as oil, acrylic, gouache on canvas through to works on paper including watercolours, prints and digital photography. 

“Then there are the works by artists who work in 3D with clay, wood, resin, textiles, found objects; there is work created out of used hose and ties and two others whose works have thread incorporated within the painted surfaces of their works. 

“Then there are those artists who combine the 2D with the 3D to create something totally unexpected, pushing ideas of perspective.” 

The winning artwork of Best of Show will be acquired into the Sunshine Coast Art Collection, adding to a growing cultural asset for locals to experience now and into the future. 

Held in conjunction with the exhibition, the Local Student Art Prize celebrates and fosters the Sunshine Coast’s budding artists, allowing us to glimpse the region through the eyes of our young people. 

This year, three generations of local artists are competing across both exhibitions – son, mother and grandmother. 

As part of the Local Artists – Local Content Art Prize, Bee Mellor and her daughter Libby Derham feature their impressionist depictions of coastal landscapes and flora; with Bee’s grandson and Libby’s son Charlie included in the Local Student Art Prize.

Drawn to the shapes, pathways, textures and colours made by the sea, Bee portrays a beach’s littoral zone with layers of painted papers and textiles, frayed, torn, burnt and brought together by free-hand machine stitching. 

Her piece, Littoral Zone, reflects her memories of this natural occurrence, existing only for a few hours as the tide recedes, trickles between boulders and rocks and settles into deep blue-green pools. 

Libby’s watercolour Amongst the Wallum draws on her love for the Banksia robur, the swamp banksia found at her favourite spot to paint in Coolum. 

Her piece is a blaze of multicolour flower spikes. Deep sepia slowly turns to burnt oranges. Pops of acid yellow flash through the green leaf canopy and hints of magical pinks and purples glint in young buds ripening.

“This moment with flora and fauna fills me with deep appreciation and contentment for where I live and paint,” Libby said.

As a fifth-generation artist and finalist in the Under 13 Years category for the Local Student Art Prize, Libby’s son Charlie also uses watercolour to reflect Different Weathers at the Beach. 

“Sometimes it’s stormy, sometimes it’s rainy and most of the time it’s pretty hot,” Charlie said. “This painting shows if you are on the Sunshine Coast, you will wake up and wonder, ‘What weather will today hold?’”

It doesn’t matter how distant our experiences seem as each generation passes through the gallery, our local community will learn just how connected we are to each other and the landscapes we call home. 

The Local Artists – Local Content Art Prize 2023 and Local Student Art Prize 2023 runs from 24 March to 7 May.


Summer 2022: Artistic Flair at Caloundra Regional Gallery

Summer 2022: Start of the Art at Caloundra Regional Gallery

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