Thank goodness for Instagram and online galleries as some of us head into our 8th week of lockdown! We so feel for all the creatives working in the performative spaces right now, unable to gig or even plan tours. It’s so heartbreaking.
One silver lining in all this awfulness is that many visual artists are thriving, selling and doing better than ever at a time when people unable to spend their money on holidays, theatre and live concerts, are searching out the visual statement piece for their personal haven.
Art is everything to us, so we thought we’d take the time to introduce you to some lesser-known talents… some starting out, others further along their artistic path but still in the ‘grab a bargain’ category. If this is the time for visual artists to take a bow, then we want to enable. We also love the idea of using art to express a story, to inspire and to add beauty and interest to our homes.
We’ve pitched this little list at artists whose work you can still purchase for less than $4k with a couple even under the $2k mark, so if you are thinking about investing in some wonder for your walls, but don’t quite know where to start, this list of talented peeps we’re loving and coveting should start you off. Enjoy!
Top: River at dusk,The Flicker / Above: Pink Sky / Banner: The Ridge all by Nick Ferguson
Ferguson works primarily with oil paint and mixed media in varied scales, with a strong painterly technique which explores personal experiences, memories and observations of human interaction with nature. Since 2013 Nick has been represented by Art Atrium Gallery, Sydney. During this time he has had four successful solo exhibitions while also exhibiting in group exhibitions and art prizes nationally. In 2015 he won the overall Muswellbrook Art Prize and in 2018 he was included A Painted Landscape, published by Thames and Hudson. More recently he has participated in Sydney Contemporary with Art Atrium (2019, 2020).
Ferguson’s pared back, thoughtful and prudent brushstrokes buzz through his signature style built on illuminative hues in gold and rust, sepia and mossy greens. See more.
Top: Unknown+bird / Above: Quarrel smoke by Mignon Steele
It’s joyous. Positively. While not really emerging (she’s more mid-career), you can still pick up a beautiful Steel original for around the $3k mark. What we love most about her work is that beyond the obvious influences of Kandinsky and Klee, these brightly textured renders are exquisitely original.
She’s a deeply intuitive artist whose own golden energy spills across the canvas. There’s an earthiness coupled with a spiritual element, a shimmer and a light. We love! See the work here.
‘There is an essential searching quality in Mignon’s practice. This depth of experience is like walking along a well-known bush track but discovering new elements each time, ambient sounds, shifts in weather and moisture levels, always pushing away from the habitual.’
– Melody Willis
Top: Birthing Trees / Above: Yellowtail burnout by David Cragg
We’ve been following Cragg’s work for a few years now, he’s also a mural/public art artist and educator. A Bundjalung man living on Dharawal Country, Cragg works in honest layers of acrylic with airbrushed effects. He works brightly, adoringly with his detailed captures of Australian flora and fauna. His textured black cockatoos and sunlit kookaburras feel so alive and vital within their fluorescent abundant bush-scapes. Cragg’s works are brighter than the usual work we’re drawn to but he somehow avoids the garish. They’re thoughtful works, celebratory and uplifting.
Top: Cloudscape / Above: Amber Rendezvous by Emily Imeson
Born in Orange, NSW in the early 90s, Imeson is a true Plein Air artist with the Aussie bush in her veins, she melds her painting and landscape exploration in to one driving force which celebrates and preserves ancient connections.
Her evocative palette of deep purples, luminescent greens and Aussie bush hues compliment her textural line work with a hint of the theatrical.
She scored the Macquarie Group Emerging Art Prize in 2019 and was Create NSW’s Young Regional Arts Scholarship recipient in 2018.
Her connection to the Australian bush is true and authentic and we are predicting big things from this young artist on a mission! See more.
‘I find the immediacy of painting from life and the distortion resulting from processes of remembering, to be an interesting way to articulate human experience.’ – Emily Imeson
Top: Palazzolo acreide / Above: Snow is falling in Manhattan by India Mark
‘India Mark’s paintings use a light-filled palette that allows her still life subjects to flicker with associations. There are no initial personal attachments to the subjects India Mark paints.They are forms that promote deep observation through various light and textural effects.’ – Melody Willis
India Mark was awarded the Foundation for Visual Arts Scholarship from the ANU School of Art and finished her Master of Fine Arts at the National Art School in 2017. She was a finalist in the Archibald Prize 2016 and 2018 and a finalist in Brett Whiteley’s Travelling Scholarship 2017 and 2018. More recently she was included in Still Life, Amber Creswell Bell’s collection of 40 contemporary Australian artists to love (which we reviewed recently). We love Mark for her original perspective and her superb draftsman ship, her use of surprising colour combinations and that other less tangible ingredient that sets her a part. Unexpected and nostalgic, we just love! See more.
Top: The Chase / Above: Untitled, by Taylor Steel
A recent graduate of the National Art School, Steel’s practice of contemporary printmaking strays from the traditions of print on paper. Moving away from traditional use of materials and representation, she looks at alternate uses of materials, the distortion and manipulation of imagery, and the use of technology in art.
Steel primarily works with an archive of photographs either taken by herself, collected from the past or other found material. Utilising technologies such as computer programs, scanners and printers, she alters these images in a process of abstraction and then reproduces as new images on aluminium. She received the 2020 Bird Holcomb Master of Fine Art Scholarship and is truly one to watch! See more.
Top: Summer Storm / Above: The Pink House, by Petra Reece
Influenced by Edward Hopper after having seen his exhibition many years ago, Petra's work is strikingly realist with poignant concentrations in light and shadow.
She’s had numerous exhibitions and has had her work purchased by her local Nillumbik Council (for a large painting inspired by the 2009 bush fires).
We’re particularly captured by her haunting isolated house series, which seems so apt for these times with their other worldliness and sense of the unknown and the lonely. But it’s her use of vibrant colour layered with luminosity, particularly the hot, hot pinks that evoke so much. These are dramatic paintings with their moody contrasts and enveloping ‘world end’ skies. Laden with story, with history and with human experience. So gorgeous!
See more here.
Top: Taking a break / Above: End of Day, Broken Hill
Based in Camberwell, Melbourne, you can purchase a smaller work by Russ Newman for under 1k with larger works around the 2.5k mark.
‘Pursuing my passion for landscape painting outdoors and continuing to explore our beautiful country. I spend time and connect to place – the country / landscape, people and elements. I then try to distil the essence of this experience with my personal response into a painterly contemporary expression through my painting’.
Working onsite, he paints quickly to capture an immediate response & energy using a mix of gouache, charcoal and pastel.
Back at his studio he works in oils or acrylic to culminate the gathered source material, experiences and memories. We love the immediacy of his mark making, the vitality and kineticism that makes his landscapes vibratingly alive. And we love that his drawing hand remains visible through the strength of his line and gestural textures.
See more here.