Birds of the Air – Portraits in Feathers is an exhibition by Australian artist Julie Edgar (b.1951) now showing until October 28, 2016 at the Kinross Arts Centre located in the historic Manse of Toorak Uniting Church in Melbourne.
A great limestone Pelican from the artist’s garden greets everyone at the entry, engaging the spirit and inviting you to have one commissioned to grace your garden too.
Julie Edgar is showcasing prints, drawings and sculptures in this very accessible show.
It includes her Japanese Woodblock Prints (editions of five) of Bellbirds, Pigeons, Ducks, Kestrels, Kingfishers and Spinebills.
Her sculptures are fashioned in limestone and bronze, although the bronzes are on a smaller scale than earlier models and include Finches, Ducks, a Dove and a Kookaburra.
Birds are a special interest for Julie who admires their beauty and fragility in a habitat that is constantly under threat.
Attending the opening night of the exhibition we discussed how she and her husband live life in a location where a great variety of the birds of Australia can be found, attracted by Australian native planting.
When I first met Melbourne sculptor Julie Edgar, I had just admired her wonderful bronze sculpture of the head of the late great Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Australian philanthropist.
Installed on the staircase in the South Melbourne Town Hall, now the home of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) of which the great lady was founding patron.
It’s indeed a wonderful likeness capturing the warmth and welcoming nature of this very great lady.
Julie is a versatile artist, and the exhibition features linocuts, Japanese-style woodblock prints, drawings, bronze and stone sculptures, all of which have been inspired by birds.
The Kookaburra is one I relate to, having enjoyed their cackling laughter constantly as they sat high up on the telegraph poles in the street or in the branches of the large Pepper tree in the backyard of the beachside suburb of Sydney where I grew up.
It seemed appropriate that it was at the end of a concert of glorious music where I first met Julie Edgar.
We shared a beautiful memory of a great sculptural discovery in an antiquity we agreed was a defining moment in the history of the art form.
It was 1506 when one of the great classical sculptures of all time The Laocoon was discovered at a time when the city of Rome was striving toward re-birth, its renewal based on its classical past and glorious history.
Sculpture acquired a symbolic significance and helped to kick-start an outpouring of architecture inspired by the remains of ancient Greece and Rome, one that would resonate for centuries.
While Julie admires historical sculpture, her focus however is very much in the present. Her works are featured in the National Portrait Gallery of Australia in Canberra where her heads of Motor Racing icons Sir Jack Brabham OBE and Peter Brock are cast in Bronze on a marble base.
Brock she observed had an ability to inspire people. He insisted she should portray him as he appeared at the time of the one and only sitting he could give her. She admits to ‘just a hint of idealisation’ and the burning gaze she gave him offers the viewer a ‘heroic aspect’, a nod to classical times Producing the portraits came out of her passion for the art form.
The challenges the artist faces throughout the process means that the busts are created in many stages, involving the building up of a clay sculpture over a steel, wood or plastic armature; the formation of wax and rubber moulds; bronze casting; and then much grinding, rubbing back and detailing through patination.
Her focus on birds today rather than people, she says, gives her a great deal of pleasure. The beautifully detailed delightful bronzes of small finches are sure to find a happy home such is their charm. And the dove, well he represents peace and joy in anyone’s language.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016
Birds of the Air – Portraits in Feathers
Kinross Arts Centre
603 Toorak Rd, Toorak, Victoria 3142
Located in the grounds of Toorak Uniting Church; Tram Stop 39
Open: 8.30am – 3.30pm Monday to Friday;
Weekends by appointment
Office: 03 9829 0340 or Mobile 0404 078 105
Open: Monday – Friday 8:30am – 3:30pm (closed during school holidays)
Proprietor: Erasmia (Raz) Psonis
Phone: 03 9829 0341
All images courtesy artist Julie Edgar