The unbreakable Paul Maher

ALTERED STYLE: Artist Paul Maher with works which will go on exhibition next month at Gallery 139.
ALTERED STYLE: Artist Paul Maher with works which will go on exhibition next month at Gallery 139.

THE suburban landscapes of Newcastle are the subjects of a body of work, titled Shore Lines by artist Paul Maher, which will go on exhibition next month.

The renowned artist has joined forces with ceramicists John Cliff, Helen Dunkerely, Sean Nicholson and Tracie Bertram to produce painted works on ceramics. 

The process has seen Maher use under-glaze on unfired pieces, sometimes using methods more akin to lino printing.

He applies the under-glaze then cuts into the colour, working into the negative space, sometimes etching into the material itself. The result has been a series of dramatic images, many in monochrome.

Along the way there have been a few disasters. Some works did not survive the kiln.  

“I have learnt a lot about how fragile ceramics are,” Maher said.  “It can often be the best ones that are sacrificed to the kiln Gods.

The subjects of the works have come straight from Maher’s sketchbooks, in a similar process to his works on canvas.

The ceramics feature Maher’s boxing girls, and scenes from The Hill and Bar Beach. Colour is used in a series of small square works on handmade tiles.

He expects to exhibit more than 40 ceramic works.

Also in the exhibition are a new batch of paintings. These smaller works show a relaxing of style by the artist.

“They are a bit more raw and I’ve loosened up,” Maher said. “I’m more interested in the material, the paint.”

The geometric line-work, characteristic of Maher’s paintings, has softened, replaced by more gestural curves and roundness.

Internal scenes, families seated at the dinning table, with the suburban landscape viewed through a window, or scenes from Maher’s local environment are the subjects of the paintings. Their scale is small.

Maher has exhibited in Newcastle, Sydney and Paris over 30 years. This year he will also hold an exhibition at Saint Cloche, Paddington. He is currently a finalist for The Muswellbrook Art Prize. 

The exhibition opens at Gallery 139 on March 15, with the official opening on March 17, between 2-4pm.

There will also be two meet the artist sessions on March 24, 11am - 4pm, and March 25, 11am-2pm.

An artist in conversation session will be held on March 29, at 5.30pm. The event is free, but you need to book your spot by emailing: info@gallery139.com.au