"Moonlight Wishes", Julianne Ross Allcorn, pencil, watercolour & acrylic on 2 wood panels 64 x 54 cm
Julianne Ross Allcorn’s ‘thesaurium insula (treasured island)’ artwork is one of 39 finalists selected in this year’s Wynn Prize, on now at the Art Gallery of NSW. This is Ross Allcorn’s second year as finalist (she took home the affiliated Trustees Watercolour Prize in the 2020 exhibition as well). And, she also has a self-portrait in this year’s Archibald!
“I ask the viewer to stop, stand still and close their eyes, listen carefully then open and try to find what they heard, sensed and touched.”
Julianne Ross Allcorn
This year, her Wynne piece is created using her special mix of pencil, watercolour, charcoal, chalk pastel and acrylic on multiple boards. We absolutely love the delicacy and the poetry in her work and decided to delve a little deeper, to discover more of her suite of works and the complex thematic behind them.
Thesaurium insula (treasured island) Julianne Ross Allcorn, pencil, watercolour, 122.1 x 203.5 cm
Ross Allcorn elevates what first appears to be illustrative to the finest of art, using mixed media as well as the natural timber of her bases, to create evocative works that whisper through personal and shared symbolism. She’s been a practicing artist and art teacher for over 20 years and her works are mostly inspired by the flora and fauna around the Burralong Valley & Lower Hunter. She spends her time drawing from real life at her Garden Studio in Roseville, drawing inspiration from her Australian bushland surroundings.
Ross Allcorn’s subjects, detailed insects, birds, flora and fauna are instantly, stylistically recognisable for their energy and technical skill and we love that there is nothing stilted here, every creature is vibratingly alive.
Above, “Taking in the View” watercolour, pencil, acrylic, dremmel on two wood panels, 64 x 93 cm. Below, “Cockatoo Pink Party” pencil, watercolour & acrylic on 2 wood panels, 50 x 124 cm
With a thematic focused in on conservation as well as the celebration of Australia’s natural beauty, Ross Allcorn’s gentle works have an old-fashioned feel. There’s a hint of 1920s parlour wall and an accompanying delicacy that evokes traditional botanical illustration, yet she imbues each piece with a thoughtful modernity that elevates beyond the decorative.
Ross Allcorn’s beautiful showcase of wildlife, botanicals, light and shadow, and all the tiny creatures that inhabit our Australian bush are lush and decorative, but it’s the way she translates the energy of the natural world onto birch wood panels (or paper or canvas) that sets her apart.
She brings texture and pattern alive with the colours and hues of our dappled bush-scape with deep respect for her subjects. There’s a subtle antique (is it Asian or European?) stylistic beat to the compositions and the artist’s medium which feels post-modern when she couples this exotic aesthetic with an almost kitsch ‘Australiana’. The power of her work is that we, the viewer just don’t expect this hybrid context and it’s charming and unnerving all at the same time.
She brings texture and pattern alive with the colours and hues of our dappled bush-scape with deep respect for her subjects.
“Floral Immersion”, Julianne Ross Allcorn, watercolour on wood panel 54 x 44 cm
The sensitivity of Ross Allcorn’s line drawing adds to a feeling of utter preciousness, of what we have but are so close to losing. Her work’s historical patina causes frisson – are these precious living things disappearing and reappearing on the salon walls of our future? This is where our minds go when looking at these deceptively simple but beautiful works. There’s emotion here and deeply felt stories, all the ingredients needed to create art that connects the viewer with their hearts.
Here’s what Ross Allcorn said about the Wynn Prize piece….
‘Climate change and COVID-19 have made us, as a nation, look more closely at our country, and really treasure it. My painting is a visual story; a map of Australia’s flora and fauna. The Red Centre is shown with the flower of the boab tree and the red Gymea lily. The koalas turn their backs and gaze over dancing brolgas. For the east coast there are kookaburras and frogs, and a platypus for Tasmania. Zebra seahorses and coral represent the west coast. There are billabongs and kingfishers, while coloured cockatoos soar above, squawking news of the bush to all who will listen, even the crocodile.’
You can still view Ross Alcorn’s recent show at Maunsell Wickes Gallery
And, after all that we can safely say that we found it impossible to pin down the specifics that make Ross Alcorn’s work spectacular, but spectacular it is and well worth the delve if you haven’t already discovered her particular brand of alchemy!