Michael Reid Murrurundi and Country Style magazine have creatively collaborated for many years. Beginning a decade ago with art education, today this creative alliance has moved towards undertaking a major painting exhibition at Murrurundi in March 2020 to coincide with a Country Style’s major Art issue.
The focus of the exhibition will be The Country Interior. A painterly survey of the contemporary country house – that inside part of something much bigger. That domestic environment we retreat back-into; those rooms that we showcase our lives from; that room from which we enjoy family and friends. The Country Interior will be an uplifting and diverse selection of artworks from talented Australian painters, all working with the interior and still life.
Jane Aliendi, Michelle Ball, Elizabeth Barnett, Brooke Dalton, Esther Eckley, Denise Faulkner, Louise Frith, Andrea Huelin, Stacey McCall, Anh Nguyen, Anna Placidi, Kate Summers, Stef Tarasov, Sue Tesoriero, Melanie Vugich, Christine Webb, Jo White, Laura White, Lucila Zentner.
The Country Interior: A Michael Reid and Country Style Magazine collaboration
March 6th – 29th
Opening reception: Saturday 14th March, 1 – 5 pm
Talk tank with Jason Mowen and Kate Stratton: Saturday 21st March from 11 am.
Website: The Country Interiors Exhibition
Except from Country Style Magazine on Michelle Ball
(Full story in this Months Country Style Magazine)
The life of artist Michelle Ball echoes that of the short-tailed shearwaters that migrate around the world, only to return to the very same burrow.
She was born in Ingleside, not far as the crow flies from where she now lives in Elvina Bay, NSW. Her grandfather, Jack King, was the first in her family to settle in the area, doing so in the 1920s. An apiarist by trade, he roamed the countryside looking for the perfect habitat for his bees. He decided that the Bilgola Plateau, about 10 kilometres north of Ingleside and surrounded by the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, was the place to be.
Formerly a magazine art director and a book designer and illustrator, Michelle’s creative professional life has taken her around the world, from Sydney to Geraldton in WA, and New York where she met her husband Michael Wiener, an architect. The couple were living in a Tribeca loft — next door to Robert de Niro — but when the lease ended, they relocated to Australia, settling in Manly. Michelle says they wanted their children to learn to walk on the beach. “It wasn’t a difficult decision,” she says.
After eight years in Manly, Michelle and Michael bought a “shack” in Elvina Bay, a community of less than 100 people who have fought to keep it a walking only area, accessible by boat. Locals keep their own small tinny at home and take the three-minute trip across the water to Church Point.
But Michelle finally decided to leave her full-time job last year and throw herself into her painting. “I’ve always painted,” she says. “Even as a creative director the most important thing was to do a drawing for every page to share with my team members, photographers and stylists.”
She loves to paint en plein air and it’s easy to understand why, surrounded by the stillness and quietude of the coves and bays of Pittwater. “I remember my mother saying to me: ‘I know why you love spending time in the bush. When I was pregnant, I used to go down to sit in the creek with you.’ Mum was right — I love living and painting in bush surroundings. It’s so rejuvenating.”
Another place Michelle feels at home is the Upper Hunter region of NSW. It connects her with her great-aunt, artist Edith Priscilla King, who grew up at Tower Hill, the family property near Barraba, north of Murrurundi — where, coincidentally, Michelle’s work is being exhibited as part of Country Style’s exhibition, The Country Interior, in March. She remembers her great-aunt as “a wild woman” who lived and painted in the area all of her life. “I don’t think my paintings are as good as hers, but I’d like to think one day they will be,” she says.
Michelle discovered botanical painting during her time in New York. After living in the US for 10 years, she had become homesick, as much for the bush as the people. After visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, where she joined a watercolour painting class — and found a new passion.
On returning to Australia, Michelle became involved in bush regeneration and began painting landscapes rather than plants specifically. She also taught herself to use oils “to be true to the artform”. Last spring, she discovered an amazing plant — a type of grass tree — she’d never seen before and can’t wait to put it in a painting.
For more information, visit michelleball.com
Michelle’s work features in the Country Style exhibition, The Country Interior,
March 7th–29th, at Michael Reid Murrurundi, corner of Boyd and Mayne streets, Murrurundi, NSW, (02) 6546 6767, michaelreidmurrurundi.com.au
Country Style Magazine Article (743 KB)