Opening night

Friday, 16 January 2016


On show

17 January to 21 February 2016

Gallery hours

11am – 5pm

Thursday – Monday

South West artists respond to the forest

The forests of south Western Australia have nurtured its people for time immemorial. The first forest dwellers, hunted and gathered among the trees, and fished in its rivers. Later settlers cleared trees to make way for their homes and farms while others thrived and profited from the timber exported to the world. Today just three per cent of those original forests remain – barely a remnant.

Collie Art Gallery opened in 2015 as a centre for art and artists. It is the first purpose built A-class gallery to be built since the art gallery of WA was opened in 1979. The township of Collie is surrounded by magnificent bushland, mostly regenerated after generations of logging. Every year thousands of people walk the Bibbulman Track or ride the Munda Biddi Trail, many more are drawn to the beauty, peace and tranquillity the forests still provide.

With this collaborative exhibition, curator Joshua Thomason has drawn together five prominent artists living and working in the South West who each respond in their own way to the forests that remain.


  • Born in Narrogin, WA, now lives on her family’s cattle farm near Boyup Brook having spent many years in the North West. Her sensitive paintings, often featuring native animals and indigenous children, are held in both corporate and private collections both nationally and overseas. Her many awards include the Cossack Art Awards (four times), a finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and the Perth Royal Show Art Awards.  

    “This body of work is a continuum of my exploration through my pioneering and aboriginal heritage and the reconnection back to country.

    “It examines the symbiotic relationship between the human form and his/her landscape, and how they have through time shaped each other. I have blurred the lines of this shaping, embellishing the parring and co-existence through botanimorphism where the traits of one morph with another and become almost avatar.

    “The modern world propels us forward, fast, consuming. The environment a remnant. I want these pieces to oppose that. I’m looking for the quite space, reflection, the unfurling of a new leaf, to look upon something and see it as though it is the first time.”

    Lori Pensini
    Lori Pensini
  • Originally from Mogliano Italy, a chance sighting of an advertisement asking “Do you wish to come and work in Australia?” led him to live in among the karri trees of Pemberton in the 1970s. Today he lives in Lake Clifton.

    “The four “Stargazing” paintings [in this exhibition] are a flashback from my childhood when we used to sit outside after sunset in order to escape the heat of summer.  Startled by the sight of glowing meteorites as they shot across the sky, it seemed like a magic show.  Back then it was easy to dream of other worlds and the fantastic creatures that might inhabit them. 

    We all constantly travel through space anyway aboard our home planet.  We circle around the sun once a year and rotate around the Earth’s axis every 24 hours. Because this is so obvious we sometimes forget about this.  The technological advances of our times enable us to gather more and more information about what is out there but despite this we are still gazing at the cosmos from the only life supporting planet as far as we know.  Our curiosity is increased by this quest but still frustrated by the apparent void, and the wondering remains.  All we know for sure is how lucky we are to be part of this wonderful universe!”   Galliano Fardin

    “Fardin is essentially a landscape artist but in an expansive, metaphysical sense of the genre. There is a mystical quality to Fardin’s work; starburst images imprint on the retina and remain long after you have left the exhibition. This innate sense of the cosmos we inhabit, of a life greater than one’s own, has resonance with Fardin as he is inspired by the universe and our place in it”  Sandra Murray, Art Curator, Bankwest

    Galliano Fardin
    Galliano Fardin
  • Canadian-born, Bridgetown-based Perrier describes himself as ‘artist – sculptor, industrial design, digital artist, jeweller, multi media, film maker, technologist, inventor”.

    He recently won Australia-wide acclaim for his ‘Ashes to Ashes’ a hauntingly beautiful sculpture crafted from a hollowed Marri tree trunk with, human faces are imposed in relief, which was awarded the Allens People’s Choice Prize at Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi Beach.

    Delighted to hear of the award back in Bridgetown, Kim said: “After sitting beside Ashes to Ashes at Bondi for four days sharing my work and listening to people’s reflections, I realised this is a piece for the people and by the people. The sculpture started as an experiment in charcoal and somehow a far greater spirit evoked its magic in its creation. Our first nation aboriginal people talk about the spirit in the land and I feel humbled that this is somehow portrayed through this work.” As part of the Remnants exhibition, the 3.7m Ashes to Ashes will be on display in the Collie Art Gallery’s outside rear courtyard while more modest-sized pieces will be shown in the main gallery.

    “I have not been part of the main stream arts community for many years now preferring to work in isolation. I generally produce work for commissions or myself.”

    Prior to winning at Sculpture by the Sea, Kim was awarded the 2015 Western Australian Sculptor Scholarship at the Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe.  His work is held in National Gallery Collection and National Mapping Library, Canberra, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and Private Collections Internationally.

    Kim Perrier
    Kim Perrier
  • Based in Northcliffe in the heart of Western Australia’s old growth forests, Tony focusses on our tenuous relationship with the Australian landscape. His artworks often feature local materials such as earth pigments, tree resins, ash and charcoal. These materials are coupled with unconventional techniques that blend painting, drawing and printmaking practices. There is a strong emphasis on realism, but not all is what it seems.

    “The illusion of reality deliberately breaks down as you approach the works, particularly with the engraved pieces. Background texture appears as natural woodgrain, a reference to the art of the woodcut, but on even closer inspection is revealed to be synthetic vinyl, a fake veneer. Likewise, if you get off the designated drives and walks through the forest, there’s another picture going on.”

    The human desire to control nature, offset by nature out of our control, is an ongoing theme in Tony’s response to his forest environment. Bluegum plantations and fire have become potent symbols for these concerns. Tony has won many art awards including the City of Perth Art Award in 1999 and 2001.  His work features in numerous public, corporate and private collections.  He is currently preparing for a major solo exhibition Control Point, funded by a Department of Culture and the Arts Development Grant, at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre in November 2016.

    Tony Windberg
    Tony Windberg
  • John Austin’s black and white photographs are a means of showing his world as clearly as possible. The simplicity of John’s images belie the depth and awareness that illuminates his work. To achieve the sensuous quality of his prints Austin uses the largest format cameras practical in any situation. His use of large negatives is combined with his mastery of silver gelatin printing

    John Austin’s black & white photographs are in many collections, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Australian National Library, Curtin University, Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, Western Australian Department of Justice and private collections in Australia, Singapore, the USA, South America and England.

    Rae Starr, Quinninup, July 2012

    “I settled in the Australian South West karri forest in 1994 intending to work in a contemplative manner. However, I quickly realised the truth of the destruction to the local environment. There was nothing quiet and contemplative about the forest. The result of this realisation was that much of photography for the following 10 years was documenting the destruction and defence of the remnants of the once magnificent South West Australian forests

    This forest activism documentation is unique. No one else has comprehensive photographic coverage of the Western Australian forest protest”

    John Austin
    John Austin