Interview with Kerry Dunne, Professor and Visual Artist
Images have been provided by Kerry Dunne
Over the past few months, we’ve been spending time learning about the amazing array of creatives in our community. Professor Kerry Dunne is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at UNE and an active member of the New England creative scene, who came to our attention because of her work with the Armidale Art Gallery. Kerry kindly spent some time chatting with us, we learned that she has played a role in over 12 fantastic art exhibitions since 2012 and has been awarded finalist and first prize in two of these, she also has a really interesting affinity towards landscapes that we thought we would share with you.
How did you get into the art world?
I have always been interested in art. My father had two paintings hung in the Wynne Prize (1948) but gave up painting when he had a family. I started painting in 2009. While I was a single parent and working at UNE I didn’t have time to. In 2009, however, I began a Certificate 4 in Visual Arts at TAFE. When I took up a position at the University of Wollongong that year I continued the certificate at West Wollongong TAFE. Printmaking and sculpture were offered more often than painting and drawing in the evenings, so I started doing other classes in life drawing and painting to cover the gap.
You collaborate frequently with the Armidale Art Gallery, can you tell us a little about this?
My involvement with the Armidale Art Gallery began in 2017 when I returned to Armidale, although I had been to exhibitions there previously. My first exhibition in a commercial gallery was at Gallery 126. The invitation to show my works there encouraged me to put my work forward in other exhibitions, including at the Armidale Art Gallery. The most recent Armidale Art Gallery exhibition, Hotcakes (2020) , was a fundraising exhibition. Artists from all over the New England donated their work—paintings, photographs, ceramics, and woodwork — and as the title suggests, the work went out the door like hotcakes.
Organisations like the Armidale Art Gallery are so important for towns like ours. There is a need for a range of outlets in the community for creative endeavours. It’s annual art prizes and exhibitions provide an arena for creatives who are starting out. The arts attract as large or larger audiences than sport, yet there is little funding support for community galleries.
We love your artworks – can you tell us about your style?
I paint abstract landscapes. They are a response to the colours, shapes, and emotional impact of the landscape. I paint its beauty, power, but also its austere strength and harshness.
My work expresses the continuity of an ancient landscape, its weighty permanence, transcendent beauty, and our transience in this landscape.
In 2015 I experienced an arid landscape for the first time at Fowlers Gap, north of Broken Hill. There I discovered an unexpected affinity between the desert and the ocean. Both engender feelings about the enormity of space that are exhilarating, yet also unsettling.
In my paintings of New England, I am drawn to the contrast between the drama of the gorge country and the openness of the tablelands.
I work on canvas and paper, and use mixed media, oils, and acrylics depending on the logistics of where I am painting and the type of work I want to create. I paint en plein air and develop the work subsequently in the studio.
Where we are likely to see your works?
My work will be on show in the New England Landscape exhibition at NERAM (20 November 2020 – 31 January 2021) and I will have a solo exhibition at the Tamworth Weswal Gallery Colours of the landscape (Jan 14-31 2021). 2021/2022 (dates depending on COVID) will also see a solo exhibition of my Kimberley paintings at NERAM. I also have Instagram and Facebook that I post to! Im currently working on a series of paintings of the desert landscapes out West.
View this post on Instagram
Can you share a few artists that you admire?
It’s hard to limit myself to a few painters whose work I admire. However, Sydney-based Judith White’s abstract landscapes are inspirational with her use of linework and layers of transparent colour. I am enthralled by Elizabeth Cummings landscape paintings, prints, and drawings, by her drawing and complex, vibrant compositions. Walcha-based Angus Nivison’s work engages me strongly, especially his ability to convey a sense of place and space. And that’s only the Australian artists!
Do you have any other hobbies or activities, that influence you creatively?
Bushwalking and travelling (before COVID especially, although I have just spent two weeks travelling in Western NSW) are very important. When I am walking in the bush I stop thinking about anything except the colours, the patterns, and the light in the landscape.
And finally, what’s your favourite thing about being a part of the New England community?
I love living in Armidale, it has a good community spirit and a strong sense of social responsibility. It is evident in the city’s ability to embrace the Ezidi refugees and in the support volunteers provide in assisting the families to negotiate Australian bureaucracies and acculturate.
There are many creatives in music, art, ceramics, photography, and woodworking in Armidale. I would suggest to any aspiring creative, find your group and go for it. I am part of a group that got together and hired a large studio for one day a week so we could paint and discuss art as a group. It has been very productive.
Thank you so much for your time, Kerry! We’re looking forward to your future exhibitions and will keep up to date with your work on Instagram.