Artistic inspiration is in no short supply on Norfolk Island. Evocative convict buildings, high rising cliffs, dramatic seascapes, green undulating valleys, lush rainforest and brilliant turquoise waters have aroused the senses and created a rich artistic island life. Local artists draw on a cultural heritage derived from their Polynesian foremothers as descendants of the Tahitian women and mutineers of mutiny on the ‘Bounty’ fame.
There are several galleries on the Island one of which, Gallery Guava provides entry to Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama. This stunning work created by artists Tracey Yager and Sue Draper is a ‘painting in the round’ depicting the entire Bounty story. Aatuti Art in the Village showcases original art by Sue Pearson and the application of her fabulous designs on material and clothing. Across the road you’ll find ‘Niow’ where Donna Rowlinson’s handmade jewellery includes pieces made from local hi-hi (periwinkle) shells. On the other side of Burnt Pine there’s Graham White’s Local Art and Craft Gallery and further along the road Norfolk’s newest Gallery, Norfolk Art – Adam Jauczius has recently opened. Stalls at the Sunday market attest to locally made weaving, jewellery, ceramic and photographic works.
For over 25 years the Community Arts Society of Norfolk Island has supported local learning and participation in visual and performing arts and dance. Their annual Wearable Art fashion parade and competition provides an opportunity for not only designers, but also for others to perform on stage as models. Every four years the Society takes a delegation of dancers, painters and weavers to the Festival of Pacific Arts.
Clearly, this is an island that embraces artists and their creative pursuits and that message is now also being appreciated by visiting artists and those looking to paint and create while on holiday. Norfolk Island has become the perfect artist’s retreat.
Internationally acclaimed Lake Macquarie artist Belinda Biggs has had a long-held passion for the Island and a love of passing that on to the students she brings each year for her ‘Belinda Biggs Painting Holiday’. Organised in conjunction with the Norfolk Island Travel Centre she will be running her 8th successful trip in 2018. In addition, a growing number of renowned artists and tutors have now been engaged to lead ‘En Plein Air’ (EPA) painting trips with 10 scheduled over the next 10 months. Other studio-based Art Workshops offer a range of genre’s including pastel drawing and Natural History watercolours.
The idea to bring EPA trips to the Island was begun in 2014 by local resident and artist Barb Kelly. She realised that for visiting artists, Norfolk offered not only a natural beauty but also the opportunity for engagement with the many local artists with creative exchanges able to flourish. The resulting 7 day En Plein Air and Art Workshops have a maximum of twelve painters and are personally accompanied by a local artist to introduce the best painting locations around the island and offer a very ‘local’ experience and artistic camaraderie.
Past participants of all art trips have included less experienced painters to the more highly skilled. As the leading artists are experienced tutors and due to small group sizes, they are capable of teaching to a variety of skill levels. For those looking to join their first art retreat holiday, Norfolk Island is a perfect not-too-far-away ‘international’ destination, which also importantly meets the entertainment needs of accompanying non-painting spouses and family!
For En Plein Air painting, Norfolk Island is hard to beat. In addition to offering a diverse array of inspiring vistas all located within a short 10 minute drive from each other, the Island is uncongested and peaceful. Painting here is in a place that allows quiet contemplation of the surrounds aided by the invigoration of the Island’s utterly fresh air. While the beauty of Norfolk is well-known, it’s the easy pace, fascinating history and culture, and welcoming locals and that make it the ideal painting holiday destination.
If you feel the need to be perfectly inspired, it may just be time to join an art retreat on beautiful Norfolk Island.
Image Credit: Robin Nisbet
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in Discover Norfolk, Volume 01 Issue 02, 2017. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.