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January 26, 2022

Works by a ‘most collectable’ painter on display in Tweed

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Abbey McCulloch, Debut, 2016, oil on canvas, 55x45cm

Works of one of Australia’s most collectable artists have gone on display at the Tweed Regional gallery in Murwillumbah.

Abbey McCulloch was named by Art Collector magazine as one of ‘Australia’s 50 most Collectable Artists’ in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Her exhibition ‘PERFORMANCE’ is now on display till 26 February next year.

McCulloch is clearly one of Australia’s most recognisable contemporary figurative painters, demonstrated by her selection as a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 2007, 2009 and 2013 for her portraits of actresses Nell, Toni Collette and Naomi Watts.

Her works featured in a solo exhibition at Art Stage Singapore in 2014, and last year she was invited by iconic UK photographer Nick Knight to cover Paris Fashion Week, with her drawings featured on his fashion website SHOWstudio.

In her exhibition catalogue essay, Dr Laini Burton says ‘Like bursts from a camera shutter, the series of works on display in PERFORMANCE capture not only the most consciously posed and poised bodies, but those moments in between, where gestures belie the vivacious, confident woman caught only a millisecond before. Somehow, we all know one of these fabulous creatures.

‘She oozes with self-possession, acuity and style. She has a kind of élan, or je ne sais quoi that can be neither bought or photoshopped, in this moment, McCulloch’s aim comes into sharp relief, she asks simply, “What do you want from her?” And in asking this question, McCulloch characterises the expectations we place on others and ourselves in the performance of everyday life.’

Abbey McCulloch, Beyond, 2016,oil on canvas,150x120cm
Abbey McCulloch, Beyond, 2016,oil on canvas,150x120cm

The artist explains: ‘The works in PERFORMANCE are about the ways that we perform for others – and ourselves. They are about our fictional selves revealing more about us and how our veneer can be more telling. I asked some friends to sit for me but I wasn’t particularly interested in capturing their likeness, I just wanted to play around with capturing something in their expression that showed them being self-aware. In each of these images I am trying to capture that strange moment where you realise that you are being watched by yourself. The person that you are trying to be has been caught out by the person you are. It’s like an out-of-body thing.’

McColloch will be at tomorrow’s official opening of her exhibition, by Gold Coast City Gallery director Tracy Cooper-Lavery, at 6pm (for 6.30pm) DST.

At 2pm DST on Sunday 19 February, all are welcome to attend a Q&A session between the artist and Dr Burton (lecturer in design, head of Studio Art and Honours, Queensland College of Art, Gold Coast) on topics including the artist’s life, female representation, self and identity.


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