In October to December 2014 I opened a pop-up Gallery (named ‘Five Grey Elephants’) in the rural Victorian town of Ouyen. The gallery was officially opened by the then Director of Regional Arts Victoria, Esther Anatolitis as part of the ‘Mallee up in Lights’ festival. The gallery hosted my first solo exhibition, Postcards from the Mallee. The following is a transcript from the article which appeared in the North West Express, 25th September, 2014:
“A collection of works by local artist Narelle Huggins is being exhibited at the ‘Five Grey Elephants’ pop-up gallery and gift shop, Oke Street Ouyen. The Gallery is opening on Friday 3rd October, the same day as the Mallee up in lights launch night. The exhibition is titled Postcards from the Mallee and comprises of locally inspired landscapes and townscapes.
At the beginning of 2014, artist Narelle Huggins, moved to the Mallee town of Ouyen . The beauty of the Mallee landscape and uniqueness of the towns within were immediately inspiring to her. ‘Painting is like a second language,’ says Narelle, ‘I am often struck by something that I see while out driving or walking that ignites my imagination and causes me to translate it into paint in my mind. I can’t wait to get back to the studio to then turn that amazing sky, or quirky letterbox into my own interpretation of the landscape that surrounds us.’
There are perhaps two distinct styles in Narelle’s work. The more expressionistic landscape paintings are comprised of a series of layers, usually applied with a palette knife, they imply intricate detail but also a certain robustness. These paintings are usually very spontaneous and sometimes the outcomes are surprising even to the artist!
The naive style of townscapessuch as Town on a Crossroad is developed after extensive research by the artist to familiarize herself with the geographical layout of a town. These paintings are not however a map of the town, but a playful and perhaps sentimental impression of the features unique to a place.
A professional background in Architecture also plays an important part in Narelle’s approach to painting and art. ‘My experience as an architect informs the way I think about the structure of my paintings and the dynamics that can be achieved through the use of contrasting colours.’ Colour plays a very important role in the works, which are vibrant and typically Australian with the use of earthy tones.
The ‘Five Grey Elephants’ gallery and gift shop will also be stocked with a variety of other handcrafted goods made by the artist including ladies clothing, home wares and gift and postcards of the exhibited paintings. The exhibition will run from October through to mid December.”