Bruce Chanter’s Icon of the Bush exhibition is a tribute to Australia’s dominant icon, the tree, and next week, it will be on show in Berry.
This exhibition features oil paintings that pay homage to individual species, forest stands, their bark, blossom and pods from coast, mountains and the inland.
According to Bruce, the tree has been man’s best friend over the centuries, providing the oxygen we breathe, offering shelter and shade, timber for housing, boat building, wheels, tools, homewares and furniture.
“The tree shapes, settings and beautiful bark colours make them wonderful subjects to paint," he said.
“Our famous artists Namatjira, Streeton, Roberts, Heysen and others all enjoyed painting trees and many of their works have become classics of Australian art.”
Bruce was fortunate enough to have spend his childhood exploring and playing in a large tract of bushland in Sydney’s north during the 50s, serving as his first source of inspiration.
“Completely unsupervised, I spent days with my mates on weekends and school holidays roaming the bush, finding caves, swimming in creeks and using our playful imagination,” he said.
“Here I discovered and loved the unstructured character of the Australian bush – nothing orderly or designed but rather a natural untidiness that best describes our habitat. I have tried to capture this untidy atmosphere in these paintings, as well as featuring beautiful native trees surviving in our harsh land.”
Bruce’s paintings originate from coastal bushland, the tall strands of the Southern Highlands and Dividing Range to unforgiving locations like the Flinders Ranges and channel country to the north.
He has been painting and drawing all his life, originally training at the prestigious Julian Ashton academy in Sydney during the 60s, and later furthering his studies at East Sydney Art School.
Bruce sees painting as a revelation of the places, objects and people he paints. His belief is that art should portray the more joyful aspects of life, and hopes his art is uplifting and experienced by viewers of his work.
He paints oils both outdoors “plein-air” and in the studio using the alla-prima technique of the Impressionists, in one wet. He likes to get the painting “down” to retain spontaneity and vigour, not labour over it for weeks or months.
Bruce describes his style as “painterly realism” but easily drifts into a more atmospheric approach if the subject demands it. The texture of the brushwork and palette knife and obvious application of paint are an important characteristic of his work. He likes to see evidence of the artist’s hand at work across the canvas.
Bruce’s early classical training ensures he uses time-honoured painting practices, to provide an important archival quality to the work.
The exhibition will be held at the The Garden Bistro Gallery located on Queen Street, Berry from January 18 to February 14.