Judy Oakenfull in her studio in Murwillumbah, 2020. PHOTO: Tweed Shire Council
Judy Oakenfull in her studio in Murwillumbah, 2020. PHOTO: Tweed Shire Council

How this native tree inspired a Tweed exhibition

A DISTINCTIVE native tree from Australia's east coast was the catalyst for a Murwillumbah-based artist's new exhibition.

The Coast Banksia (banksia integrifolia) stood out to Judy Oakenfull as a subject deserving the detailed attention of painting, wanting to depict their misshapen wabi-sabi cones, yellow bushy flowers and tough silvery leaves.

She then became interested in other varieties wildflowers, all which form the basis of the Tweed Regional Gallery latest exhibition 'Floral Appreciation' that opened on Friday.

 

Judy Oakenfull, 'Five Firewood Banksias' 2019, oil on canvas, 60 x 76cm © The artist PHOTO: Tweed Shire Council
Judy Oakenfull, 'Five Firewood Banksias' 2019, oil on canvas, 60 x 76cm © The artist PHOTO: Tweed Shire Council

"I have been reflecting on why I have chosen to paint these scruffy bush-type flowers and not more traditional flowers like roses or carnations," said Ms Oakenfull.

Historically, flowers have been considered feminine symbols and Ms Oakenfull considers what the current popularity of natives might suggest about contemporary femininity.

"Personally, I don't want to be soft, pretty and fragile like a rose or a carnation. I would rather be tough, earthy and full of character like a banksia. Neither do I want to be cultivated and kept in a vase. I would rather be in the bush and connected with nature," she said.

She cites Australian artist Margaret Preston (1875-1963) as an influence.

"Preston painted banksias in the 1930s and 1940s - a time when women were gaining freedom and strength," Ms Oakenfull said.

"Through her striking modernist artworks, Preston helped Australians to change their view of their local environment and helped spark a local appreciation for our unique flora.

"While Australian flora can appear to be tough and hardy, in reality it is just as vulnerable as everything else in a changing climate, and will require our appreciation and care to survive."

Born in Wangaratta, Victoria in 1972, Judy Oakenfull completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting) from the Victorian College of Arts in 2001.

In 2007 she relocated to Northern NSW where she has exhibited widely in a range of solo and group exhibitions and prizes.

The exhibition continues until Sunday May 3.



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