Jenni Mitchell’s Painting Students Exhibition.
The first exhibition by 27 of Jenni Mitchell’s Eltham Studios painting students will open Sunday 28 September at Eltham South Fine Art: Gallery & Studios.
This is the first student show at the gallery since moving the teaching studio from Montsalvat to the studio and home of the late pastry cook and sculptor GRACE MITCELL. The last exhibition of Jenni’s students was held in the Long Gallery at Montsalvat several years ago.
I am excited at the breadth of the work in this show. Most of the students are from the Eltham and Nillumbik area and range in ages from 11 – 76. Some of my students have been working in my studios for eight years and others just a few months. The diversity of the work also ranges in styles and materials from works on canvas, paper, oil paint, pastel, pencil and water based paints.
The Exhibition subjects include simple black and white studio studies to complex and intricate still life paintings, the orchard garden at the studio and paintings from recent plein air workshops in Wingrove Park and the Yarra River.
The quality of the work in show is excellent due partly to the disciplined basis of the tonal painting technique encouraged in the studio.
My philosophy is to encourage them to spend the time in developing good painting skills through a formal understanding of tone using first black and white to understanding how to ‘see’ the subject objectively. By using these classical early techniques the artist students are able to develop their own methods in which they may ‘express themselves’ through any medium and will have knowledge of how make their art with conviction rather than by using the hit and miss approach.
Many students will be hanging their work in a gallery for the first time while others have been exhibiting regularly. The idea of the show came from the students who wanted to experience the complete process learning and making art through to the exhibition.
Also on exhibition are works by Mervyn Hannan’s pastel students. Mervyn has been taking classes also this year. Students are able to take classes with both Jenni and Mervyn.
This is an opportunity to show support for the thriving artistic community in our area as well an opportunity to make a purchase from new and emerging artists who may become our Finest Artists of the Future. Some works are for sale and are reasonably priced.
The Exhibition will be opened by Councillor Helen Coleman 2.oopm Sunday 28 September and run until 12 October – Wednesday’s to Sunday 10.00am – 5.30pm.
Further Background –
Eltham South Fine Art: Studios & Gallery grew out of the Mitchell family property in Mt. Pleasant Road. My parents, Grace and Arthur Mitchell purchased the property in 1948 – an old rambling weatherboard cottage stood at the top of the block. When my father became ill Grace built a small tearoom and pastry shop, as a way of earning an income to support Arthur and her young child (Jenni) then. Together they built the large orchard garden that survives today. (Mervyn and I maintain the garden as well as run the gallery and teaching studio to help preserve this little piece of Eltham history).
After Grace retired from the shop, age 67 she got a driving license and completed a fine art degree at RMIT. The ‘tearooms’ then became her home and sculpture studios. The old cottage is now a mudbrick house and Jenni’s painting studio. When Grace passed in 2011 at nearly 95yrs Mervyn and I decided to turn her home and studio into what is now ELTHAM SOUTH FINE ART: Gallery & Studios.
Prior to this I rented the Studio at Montsalvat by the pool as my teaching studio. Seemed wasteful to continue to pay rent to Montsalvat when I was also paying rates for Grace’s house; and we didn’t want to sell to a developer; which was suggested.
Grace would be delighted to see her home being used as a gallery and studio today. She loved to teach too and used to teach pottery and bee keeping at the Eltham Living and Learning Centre.
We have had several shows at the gallery in the last couple of years including an important RETRO ELTHAM SHOW in which we exhibition 61 artists who were working in the Shire during our youth (1960s – 1980s). Mervyn and I both want to continue to show the art and history of local region. Both Eltham born and with strong ties to Montsalvat from an early age we have a sound knowledge of the arts history in region, and how quickly it can disappear.