OPENING NIGHT 5.30 – 7.30PM FRIDAY 10 NOVEMBER 2023
ARTIST IN CONVERSATION: PENELOPE MCMANUS WITH DR JACQUELINE SCOTCHER: 2PM SATURDAY 25 NOVEMBER Read more>
Penelope McManus has spent the past four years painting the local landscape, particularly the wetlands, estuaries, creeks, rivers and oceans of the Bundjalung Nation around Byron Bay (Arakwal country).
“As a landscape painter I feel it is my responsibility to document the changes happening in the landscape, however most importantly the beauty and wonder that I see every day.”
Humans are the greatest threat to this planet, destroying wild habitats with such alarming speed that scientists predict by the year 2050, half of todays known species could be lost forever. Collapses across Australian ecosystems are thought to be a result of multiple chronic pressures. Rising average temperatures, due to the climate crisis have created droughts, bushfires and floods.
McManus first visited and started exploring the local waterways, wetlands and ocean in 2020, having moved to Bangalow from the Southern Highlands of New South Wales (her property was destroyed in the Black Summer bushfires).
Moving to the Northern Rivers brought renewed hope – clear skies, vivid greens, blues and pinks. Songs of the Land is inspired from time spent walking, sitting, looking, and listening on country. These paintings hope to connect audiences with the natural world by evoking feelings of peace, mystery and wonder. She believes that by strengthening our connection with nature, we will want to protect and look after this vulnerable and precious Earth.
Penelope McManus has spent most of her life living in rural Australia, and has always sought inspiration and refuge in the Australian bush – it is where she feels most connected to herself and her creativity.
Over the past 15 years she has developed her artistic practice to focus on landscape painting, working plein air to create studies of her local environment. These observational studies are developed into larger paintings in her studio in Bangalow. Each painting is created through layering oil paint and mediums which produce a translucency and texture that can take months to resolve and dry. She recently began exploring the medium of clay to develop 3 dimensional forms which capture the beauty of birds in these environments.
Connecting with her local surroundings and the natural world, the paintings celebrate the beauty and distinctions in the environment – landforms, vegetation, qualities of light, water and fauna, and convey the immediate experience of being in nature and an emotional connection to place.