Secretary of the Meeniyan Art Gallery Jenny Mountford admires this work by Janie Frith, ‘Sepia Reflections’, one of those sold over the Easter weekend. m031521

By Michael Giles

THERE’S a lot about the regular rainfall, the green rolling hills and the coastal vistas, especially at the Prom, that remind Foster artist Janie Frith of her native New Zealand.

But it’s not how or why Janie came to be here though.

“We’ve been here for over 10 years now. It’s got a great rainfall which I love, and the coastlines and the hills remind me of New Zealand.

“I was brought up on the South Island, in the Mt Cook area initially, then Dunedin and later Auckland as well where I loved to paint boats.

“But as much as South Gippsland reminds me of New Zealand, I’ve got a sister who lives here so that helped.”

It’s clear from her exhibition in the Meeniyan Art Gallery, especially a series on Wilsons Promontory, that she’s embraced not only the look but also the feel of the local area.

Her moody charcoals, with haunting trees exclusively in black, white and grey or others with an engaging wash of colour streaming through, like ‘Sepia Reflections’, drawing tone from the tannins in the Tidal River water, were especially popular with the Easter crowd.

“I’m delighted. They’ve sold a number of them.

“Would you like one yourself?” asked Janie.

“As a matter of fact I would,” I said.

With their predominance of black and white, they do well in any setting, so why not!

As well as her own work, Janie provides art classes for young people.

The MAG put on a beautifully well-balanced exhibition by three artists over the Easter; with works by Janie Frith, Lynne Muir and Anne-Maree Gentile, filling the galleries rooms with a varied and interesting array.

Prom campers, Melissa and Piero from Melboune, were happy they stopped by.

The artists had a function on April 11, but even if you missed that, the gallery is still worth a visit until the latest exhibition finishes on April 26, then it’s on with the next show.

Creating inspirational works of art

By Janie Frith

My sunlit studio overlooks the rolling pastoral hills and the stunning coastline of Wilsons Promontory in South Gippsland. It is from here I teach small groups of budding artists and create my own work. It is a particularly special place and I am constantly inspired by the changing colours and light of the landscape and sky.

My childhood was spent in Dunedin and the beautiful surrounds of the Otago Peninsula in New Zealand.

It was here I developed a love for the natural world; recording it with observational drawings whenever I could. Following school I attended Otago Art School and developed my craft; majoring in painting.

In Auckland a teaching career began and from the very start, teaching has been a wonderfully fulfilling occupation. Inspiring and guiding the child’s unselfconscious and creative mind has always been a joyful challenge to me. In the early years I taught predominantly in the secondary levels but with a move to primary levels found an increased satisfaction in guiding budding artists to new heights. My greatest teaching achievement has been with the exceptional art results many of my secondary students attained in their final year. A great reward after years of hard work! Today I still keep my hand in education and currently run private art classes for small groups of children from my home called Art Blast Studio, where children can develop their skills, learn new techniques and tap into their creativity.

My family has lived in New Zealand and India and travelled to parts of America, Asia and Europe. But here in South Gippsland for the past 10 years, we have found a wonderful place to reside. It is pristine, verdant, sparsely populated and beautiful and we all love it.

The area is also home to many artists and creative souls. Nearby Fish Creek provides plenty of opportunity to exhibit work and showcase artists.

I have recently completed a course in Illustration and now I am finding areas that I can transfer my skills over to. Having the honour of illustrating two children books written by Australian authors was a real thrill.

So here I am – surrounded by artists, inspiration and an environment of learning and teaching.