Painting the Shire exhibition success

The weekend’s successful Painting the Shire exhibition grew from an appreciation of the core group of works held by the Sutherland Shire Historical Society and the abundance of local art talent that was available to display.

The Heritage Festival show paid homage to a fraction of the many artists over time that have represented aspects of the Sutherland Shire in oil and watercolour, goauche, pastel, pencil, wood, clay and ochre.

Their lasting efforts are as much a part of Sutherland Shire history as any other medium.

By the end of the weekend exhibition more than 500 people had attended Painting the Shire, the School of Arts building living up to its origins and  home to 142 quality works some lent from the Hazelhurst back catalogue. 

Paintings by landscapist Alex McKenzie, portraitist Jiawei Shen and some of the very early paintings of Cronulla and the Woronora River drew the most attention and many also took the opportunity to visit the revamped museum and the story it told of the shire's history and culture.

Diggers: Some of the paintings drawing the most admiration from visitors were those by artist Jiawei Shen (pictured). This one is titled, 'Diggers 1915'. Picture: Ted Craig

Diggers: Some of the paintings drawing the most admiration from visitors were those by artist Jiawei Shen (pictured). This one is titled, 'Diggers 1915'. Picture: Ted Craig

Among the local contributed works assembled  themes  emerged including Aboriginal history, coastal landscapes, urban development, iconic buildings and local identities but the paintings drawing the most attention from visitors were those by Bundeena artist Jiawei Shen.

In 2016 he was the first Chinese-Australian to win the Gallipoli Art Prize. Shen has embraced Australian history and culture, including the Gallipoli legend.

“I share the memories of Gallipoli with every member of our nation, and [I’m] in tears when listening to Waltzing Matilda,” he said.

One of his artworks on show, Diggers 1915, is an evocative painting of Gallipoli soldiers and usually hangs in the  Bundeena RSL club.