Visiting artist captivated by connection to nature

UK artist Joe Webster will reveal the results of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to delve into the South West this weekend, with the unveiling of the visiting painter's 'On Location - Margaret River' exhibition at JahRoc Galleries.

The award winning plein air artist said he selected Margaret River as his destination of choice after securing a grant which allowed him to travel to any location in the world to immerse himself in his craft.

"I first visited the region about 20 years ago, when I was studying briefly at Murdoch University in Perth," Webster told the Mail.

"I bought a van, and headed down towards Pemberton, passing through Margaret River, before I headed north to Darwin."

"I was just captivated by the sheer scale of the place, and the sense that it is just you, and nature, and that's it."

That connection to nature is what drives Webster's work, which takes him into the forest, or on a coastal hike, often for more than 7 or 8 hours.

"My kit is quite mobile and easy to take to remote areas, so I'll hike for a while until I find the outlook that I want to work with, and then I'll park up there for seven, eight, nine hours and take that time to get a sense of the place, how it changes over the day, the light, the tides, the wildlife."

Hailing from the South West corner of England, Webster said the Margaret River coastline echoed his homeland in many ways.

"I think that's why I chose to come back, the wild, rugged nature of the place and that windswept sort of landscape.

"What I do is about connecting to nature in the same way as a surfer would, or a farmer or anyone with a deep connection to nature.

"Painting just happens to be my particular channel for that connection, but it's the same for anyone who is intent on getting to know a place on a much deeper level.

"You can go hiking and you can take a beautiful photo, but to sit for hours and watch as the clouds roll in, or the colours around you completely change is a different understanding of where you are."

As part of the exhibition, Webster will screen timelapse videos of some of his location painting, captured to show the dramatic changes that occur over the lengthy process.

JahRoc Galleries' Lara Bennett said she was excited to host Webster in residency as part of the Cabin Fever winter festival.

"Joe paints his exquisite landscapes from start to finish on location using acrylics, graffiti tools and mixed media, which capture the effects of rain, mist, sun or hail in the textures of paint on his canvas.

"Alongside the exceptionally talented Stuart McMillan, this exhibition will be a stunning tribute to our beautiful local landscape."

'On location - Margaret River' will open this Saturday July 20 from 6pm to 8pm at JahRoc Galleries in Margaret River, with entertainment including live music, artist presentations, mulled wine and the unveiling of paintings and sculptures by both Webster and McMillan.

For more info visit www.jahroc.com.au