The Gorge

The past and the present collide as local ties bring the Wedderburn Artists back together again.

Currently showing at the Campbelltown Arts Centre, ‘The Gorge’, curated by Jasmine Kean, celebrates the successes and lineage of the Wedderburn artists from the permanent collection. Including artists Suzanne Archer, Joan Brassil, Fred Braat, Elisabeth Cummings, David Fairbairn, David Hawkes, Roy Jackson and John Peart, the exhibition reveals the intrinsically linked stories of the local area between the artists’ and its natural surrounds.

The Weddernburn Group began in the 1970s, with Barb and Nick Romalis assisting artists by offering them space to work and live on their property. Rezoning the land into 25 acre blocks, artists could pay a nominal figure or “peppercorn rent”, the setup titled Widden Weddin meaning “I came I stayed”.

Elisabeth Cummings was one of the initial artists involved, camping out in a tent for weeks at a time to paint the bushland, prompting the thought by the Romalis’ to generously share their property. From these early stages, Cummings brought out Joan Brassil and Roy Jackson, Brassil brought Fred Braat and Jackson brought John Peart into the fold of this community, hidden in the bushland. This group became widely known as the Wedderburn Artists, working within the bush, looking out to the gorge of the Georges River on land bestowed by the Romalis’.

‘The Gorge’ reveals the distinct styles that emerged for each artist from these beginnings, responding to and shaping the visual dialogue of the Australian landscape.

Each artist in the exhibition holds a connection to the area, whether it was the influence of the Wedderburn Artists, Barb Romalis’ active role in the creation of Campbelltown’s first art gallery in the 1980s, or Roy Jackson and John Peart instrumental roles in the architecture of the planning process.

Alongside key paintings by the artists, the exhibition presents a portfolio of 24 mono-prints titled Within a Stone’s Throw,  shown in its entirety for the first time since 1993. Expressing the fragile balance between the encroaching suburbia with the native bushland of Wedderburn, the portfolio raises awareness of the importance of conservation of areas rich in fauna against housing development booms in Sydney.

Vast and varied, ‘The Gorge’ celebrates the past and present symbiotic connection between art and nature in Western Sydney – with the landscape a constant source of inspiration, and art nature’s social champion and voice.

‘The Gorge’

25 June – 31 July
Campbelltown Arts Centre
1 Art Gallery Road, Campbelltown

Courtesy the artists and Cambelltown Art Centre. 


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