The day began at 9am when we all gathered at Hazelhurst Regional Art Centre on a gloriously sunny day. Seven of us headed down to Campbelltown in two vehicles. Thank you to Dior and Naomi for being our chauffeurs for the day.
When arrived we were warmly greeted by Renee Porter, Campbelltown Art Centre’s Exhibitions Officer and Curator of Lineage. Renee gave us a moment to explore the space , so we took the opportunity to look in the Friends Exhibition where they were holding their annual exhibition and sale. We all agreed it was a wonderful community space.
To commence proceedings we gathered in the main gallery, a magnificent room with high ceilings, where Renee introduced herself and provided us with an insight into the exhibition, tour and background on David Fairbairn, his work and his practice.
Renee has been with Campbelltown Arts Centre for over ten years where her position has enabled her to work closely with many artists in the area. Working closely with these artists has enabled her to gain a broader understanding of their work.
She was able to capitalise on this whilst working with David in determining the objectives of the exhibition; being a perspective of his continually developing work from the turn of the century. Renee then elaborated on her experience of visiting David’s studio in Wedderburn and how the landscape surrounding both his home and studio are reflected in his work through the line in his portraiture. Her insight into David’s art practices were fascinating, telling us of the large works in progress, numerous smaller works and photographs which line the walls of his studio, explaining that he completes multiple works simultaneously.
David’s current exhibition, “Lineage” has been on tour for 18 months traveling to many destinations in NSW, such as Orange, Goulburn and Mosman. It was interesting to hear Renee’s experience with touring such a large show and the techniques employed to protect the works during transportation.
Campbelltown Arts Centre is Lineage’s final destination which coincides with David’s acceptance as finalist in the prestigious Archibald Prize at the AGNSW.
Renee explained to us the relationships between David’s works and his models, together with his thoughts when creating his work. David process is to not simply transfer a likeness of a face onto paper, but to get know his subjects, often having them sit for over a year to complete a major work. Each line almost a facet of their personality and life experiences.
Another highlight of the tour was the Claire St Claire Gallery where David’s smaller works and etchings are hung. At centre stage was a plinth containing two of his visual diaries, demonstrating David’s practice with clarity and style. The privilege of seeing his visual diaries was really wonderful and had the whole group captivated.
Renee concluded the tour with two of the most focal works in the exhibition. These were, most importantly of his most interesting subject, artist Susan Archer ,who is also his wife. They included an older work of Susan with which he won the Doug Moran Prize, Red Portrait Suzanne 2000 and the more recent Large Head S.A. No 1, 2010.
The exhibition is a well rounded demonstration of the last ten years of David’s work. This period not only beautifully demonstrates David’s relationships with his models but also the progression of his art and the fine art of his artistic practice. It is an exhibition which we would recommend to anybody to view, Lineage runs until the 27th May, 2012