Some things are just meant to be. Last week I broke a tiny bone in my foot. Undeterred, the next day, I stomped in to the Manningham Council to pay my rates. Truth was, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. It was a cold day and my foot ached and complained all the way from the car park to the glass doors of the council buildings. Once inside, my bloggers attention was immediately drawn to the Manningham Gallery and the work of Christopher Shelton therein. Miraculously, I forgot all about my poor sore foot.
It’s a lovely gallery space and Chris’s work had a similarly joyous effect on me, to that of Pamela Irving. With the help of curator Megan McEvoy, I learnt more about the Manningham Council’s Gallery. Apparently, a brand new gallery space is being built across the road. It’s due for completion next year. The present Gallery is pretty switched on, with a great schedule of exhibitions planned until the end of the year. The one I’ve put on my must-see list, is an exhibition from the Australian Tapestry Workshop. If like me, you’re a big fan of the work of that sensational Melbourne institution, here are the details for your diary. The exhibition of Contemporary woven tapestries is showing from 2nd to 19th November. Painters featured are, Jon Cattapan, Glen Morgan, Christine Johnson, Bessie Liddle, Reg Mombassa and Ross Moore.
To say that I skipped back to the car after this introductory experience of the Manningham Gallery, is to overstate it, but I think you get my drift.
Today I ventured back there with my trusty Canon to snap these pics for your enjoyment. I planned a little google research after the photo shoot to get some info for you about Christopher Shelton. As luck would have it, he just happened to be in attendance at the Gallery when I arrived. Gold, pure bloggista gold!
I had read somewhere that Christopher worked for many years as an arts educator. He was in fact, in charge of art at the Doncaster Secondary College for well over twenty years. Prior to that he worked at Melbourne Uni, “teaching teachers to teach art”. Throughout his teaching career he managed to find time for his own painting. Now that he’s retired from teaching (2010) he has turned his attention to painting full time. Hence the name of the Manningham exhibition “Just a Painter Now”. I found this suitably ‘colourful’ description of it on Chris’s website…
“When not wrestling with the political foibles and complexities of those who think they know what is best for us, he returns to the sweet, colourful and curvaceous things we all need: food, flowers and those underlying female forms within the landscape he grew up in.”
Christopher says his influences are Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Russell Drysdale, Brett Whitely and Aubrey Beardsley. An impressive list by anyone’s standards, but when I looked at this detail of his work (above) I saw Kandinsky’s early work…but then I’m such a fan of his early work that I think I see it everywhere.
What’s next for Christopher Shelton? He talked of spending six months in Italy at a fellow artist’s studio and developing a studio/workshop with master classes for up to five eager participants right here in Melbourne. I found myself looking forward to seeing what he does next. What ever it is, I’m pretty sure that we’ll see it reflecting his ethos that Art = Life.
PS. Chris mentioned in passing that his work was exhibited earlier this year in an exhibition in Korea titled “Together in Harmony for 50 Years- Linking Australian and Korean Arts”. His work was in very good company, with Archibald prize winners Ben Quilty (2011) and Sam Leach (2010) being among the other participating artists.
All work in this post is Christopher Shelton ©.