WHEN John Downton painted the Aussie Rough Riders for an exhibition in the bicentennial year, little did he know that 25 years later it would end up in the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame at Longreach.
Formerly of Foxground and now based at Worrigee, Mr Downton’s work has been accepted into the museum which has also just celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The massive painting, which is 5.6m long and 198cm high also
featured in his bicentennial
exhibition at the Mitchell Library in Sydney.
In fact he was the first artist ever to be invited to exhibit at the Mitchell Library.
And despite the gigantic staircase within the library, the painting could not make it up the stairs and had to be displayed in the foyer.
“It was simply just too big,” he laughed.
“And it is also for that reason that it has virtually been in storage for the past 20 odd years as well.”
Aussie Rough Riders took three months to complete, held up by two large easels with Mr Downton spending most of his time up a large ladder painting with the “biggest brushes he ever used and a lot of paint”.
It is valued at $120,000.
The scene of nine horsemen and their mounts depicts workers from an outback station heading off to the town’s annual rodeo.
“You could imagine the station owner giving the workers the afternoon off to head to the rodeo, which was a big event,” he said.
Mr Downton trained as a watchmaker, working for a number of years in the Shoalhaven at Seyffer’s Jewellers, before as he put it “those new electronic watches came out” and he left to follow his real passion, painting.
He studied at the Royal Art Society of NSW under Kenneth Green, Allan Hanson, Arthur Murch and George Duncan and spent around 15 years travelling the country painting with master artist Leonard Long.
Mr Downton, who is a member of the Australian Society of Marine Artists, the Royal Art Society of NSW as well as the Shoalhaven, Kiama and Bega art societies, is widely regarded for his landscapes, but also his ability to catch the essence of any scene.
He does a lot of historical work for the navy and the Fleet Air Arm, where he is an honorary member.
Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame museum curator David Masel said Mr Downton’s painting was spectacular.
“I haven’t seen it in the flesh but have seen photographs of it and it is a stunning work that certainly is appropriate for the Stockman’s Hall of Fame,” he said.
The painting is due to arrive
in Longreach on Wednesday