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May 17, 2021

Tamara Smith MP commissions artwork for community birthday cards

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Elena Larkin’s painting of Shelly Beach is from a series of images for Tamara Smith MP’s birthday cards.

Eve Jeffery

The natural beauty of the Far North Coast has always been the inspiration for en plein air artist Elena Larkin and apart from prepping for an exhibition in Melbourne, Elena’s work will also be enjoyed by many who receive a birthday card from local MP Tamara Smith.

Ms Smith was so enamoured with Larkin’s work that she commissioned a representation of a local landscape for her community birthday cards in 2020.

Larkin, currently based in Melbourne, says she finds inspiration in the direct experience of a subject. I am concerned with humans’ ecological impact,’ says Larkin. ‘I aspire to cultivate a love and respect for the Earth and our fellow inhabitants through art practice.’

Elena grew up on a fruit orchard at Pearces Creek with several dogs, chickens, geese, goats, a cat, guinea pigs, fish, crayfish and native animals. ‘I have always valued my relationships with other species and felt curious about their experiences of the world.

‘The simultaneously peaceful and thrilling nature of painting en plein air appeals to me as a way to engage with the land and share space with other beings.’

En plein air artist Elena Larkin and the bespoke representation of Shelley Beach she presented to Tamara Smith MP.

Last week Elena presented the bespoke representation of Shelley Beach in Ballina to Tamara Smith. ‘This stunning piece will form the basis of the electorate-wide birthday cards I send out each month,’ said Ms Smith. ‘I am delighted to support a young artist with an environmental message.

‘We are blessed to live in this area and I am happy to celebrate that. I look forward to sharing Elena’s work with the community,’ she said.

Larkin, who went to Woodlawn, has had work shortlisted for the John Villiers Outback Art Prize 2019 and the Naked & Nude Art Prize 2019. ‘I graduated last year from the University of Melbourne. BA Honours in Creative Writing.’

Larkin says that growing up on the Northern Rivers left its creative mark on her but she lives in the ‘now’. ‘Growing up in an area as beautiful as the Northern Rivers probably has inspired my love of painting landscapes. But I paint from life, so while a memory of a place might inspire me to return somewhere, I create the painting in that particular environment,’ she said. ‘The painting I made for Tamara is of Shelly Beach in Ballina when I was visiting in July – all of the whales were out so that was pretty special!

‘I’m looking forward to painting around the Northern Rivers again when I visit at Christmas. It does feel very special to return to familiar places to paint.

Elena says it’s a nice feeling to knowing that an image she created will be sent out with a birthday wish. ‘It’s definitely very lovely! Especially from Tamara and the Greens who do such wonderful work for the environment.’

Elenea and her partner Tyler Arnold have an exhibition of plein air paintings entitled Visits at the Off The Kerb Gallery in Collingwood from October 31 – November 14.

See Elena Larkin’s website or the Off The Kerb Gallery website or more information.

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  1. At Byron’s Shelly Beach, looking east from the most easterly point in Australia out across the sunny Pacific Ocean, across the waves that are frothing, rolling and crashing and zooming up the warm sand and in feelings of the biting winds blowing a single small tree and the harsh green and rusty coloured grass with tenuous roots clinging to the sand dune against that wind from the south-east, that real and typical Byron scene is painted on a card by artist Elena Larkin.
    What makes that scene so great is that there is no image in it that Mankind or his existence, exists. It is pure nature.


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