Peter Gardiner ‘The Golden West’
Cam Scales’Robert Hannaford’
Paul Ryan ‘The Downpour’
Paul McKenzie Portrait of writer Jack Hunter
Margaret Duffy, one of the lovely volunteers who work at the S.H.Ervin Gallery

Thirty years ago the S. H. Ervin Gallery began exhibiting a selection of paintings not accepted into the prestigious Archibald portrait competition and to the Wynne Landscape competition held at the Art Gallery of NSW. Ever since, we have known that those not accepted were only because so many excellent works were submitted. There simply isn’t enough space to show all the wonderful paintings Australians submit for the event. Thanks to the Ervin, the public can see some of them.

The selectors this year were the editor of Artist Profile Magazine, the director of the Manly Art Gallery and the Director of the Ervin Gallery. They chose well. There are a variety of styles, materials and themes in both the Wynne landscapes and the Archibald portraits. 

Let us not forget the wonderful volunteers who answer questions about the artists and who create a welcoming atmosphere. Volunteer Margaret Duffy was knowledgeable, helpful and enthusiastic. As well she might be because this exhibition is definitely worth the visit to Observatory Hill. There is plenty of parking, a low entry fee and the renowned Trust Café that many say has the best cakes and salads in Sydney. 

It is difficult to know which paintings to mention– there are so many good ones. Of the portraits, Paul McKenzie’s painting of writer Jack Hunter embellishes the large frame with mystical figures. Cam Scales portrays the 77 year old Robert Hannaford high on scaffolding painting a silo mural in South Australia. Mark Rutledge’s portrait of New Zealand artist Tame Iti is exquisite. Joshua Cocking paints himself alone in the bush surrounded by the accoutrements of his life – fruit, house plants, running shoes.

Of the landscapes, Peter Gardiner’s of The Golden West is in the classic style while Paul Ryan’s After the Downpour is created with big wonderful wide brush-stroked waves and splashes. You sense he had fun painting this scene of Lord Howe Island.

160 years ago Napoleon initiated the first Salon des Refusés so that the public could see the paintings rejected by the French Academy. The judges believed that Cezanne, Pizarro, Manet and Whistler’s paintings were scandalous, an affront to good taste. How times have changed. The Ervin’s Salon des Refusés provides a great service to the artists, and to the Art Gallery, grateful that the paintings it didn’t have space to exhibit can be seen at Observatory Hill every year. 

Salon des Refusés, the Alternative Archibald and Wynne Prize Selection on until July 24 at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Observatory Hill, The Rocks, Sydney

$4 National Trust members, $10 concession, $12 full entry fee, children free

Group bookings: 9258 0140

Featured image : Joshua Cocking Self portrait. Photos and article by Carol Dance.


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