Invitation to Looking forward, looking back – the 2021 open studio exhibition by Hawkesbury-based artist Greg Hansell. The exhibition will be held over two weekends: Saturday/Sunday 27&28 November and Saturday/Sunday, 4&5 December at 31 George Street, Windsor.
Usually, people who live in or near historic towns are well aware of the significance of place in relation to their connectivity and self-identity. They might not phrase their sense of place in formal terms, but nevertheless they know they belong and this is one aspect that jumps out at you repeatedly during conversations with artist Greg Hansell – his sense of place in the Hawkesbury is now so ‘hard-wired’ that he records history as he sees it, often depicting heritage buildings that ‘are second to midnight’ (that is, at risk of disappearing forever, either through development or lack of maintenance).
An award-winning artist, Greg is currently Fellow, Council member, teacher and Art School Director at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. He crushes rocks and clays to make his own pigments and, with no added binders, creates earth pastels with colour permanence of the highest rating. But his rural background and his methods of recording history relate to his country upbringing, his move to the Hawkesbury area and his subsequent career as an artist. His sense of place attachment and understanding of the environment surrounding place are evident in his paintings. His representations of history – his writing down of historic detail – reflect the intangible alongside the tangible heritage. His conceptual experience in relation to sense of place flows through his paintings and through his life and influences the way he delivers public history through his artwork.
I have in recent years run several historical tours based on Greg’s artistic representation of heritage sites in the Hawkesbury and I have discovered that to hang around with Greg Hansell and visit the heritage sites depicted in his paintings encourages people to look for new perspectives and ways of interpreting place. That is what the artist aims to do. He reveals the ‘layers of life’ that revolve around a building where he ‘can exaggerate or highlight things in the architecture, such as the brick coursework and crookedness of the building…where the building has slumped over the years and become tired’.
There is a term, ‘liminality’, that means drawing or inviting the viewer in to a snapshot of the past and Hansell explains that in relation to the term liminality, he ‘almost takes the viewer by the hand’ and guides them through the paintings to discover objects from the past like upturned milk crates, old bits of cars, pieces of rusting iron or farm tools.
It has been said of Greg Hansell that he ‘really is one of the lucky ones’. ‘He lives and works in a place he loves’ and while his footprints are well and truly in the Hawkesbury, he also immerses himself by searching for inspiration in and around the Sydney and Blue Mountains areas.
His 2021 studio exhibition in the beautiful garden at his home at 31 George Street, Windsor, opens on Saturday, 27 November and continues through Sunday, 28 November and the following weekend, 4/5 December. In looking back over the many months of Covid-19 and resulting restrictions, it will be good to look forward to a brighter future as life gets back to normal and we can again support our artists by visiting galleries, museums and concert halls.
Carol Roberts 2021
Information below this post relates to an earlier post and is not relevant. There are no tours planned in connection with Greg’s current exhibition.