The Gumnut artist collective viewing nature with passion

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“The Gumnuts” are an intrepid group of local artists, inspired by nature, and based at Straithnairn.

An invitation-only collective of 23, the group has been meeting for 12 years to explore different methods and mediums and to produce work which then forms exhibitions. A number of members have been accepted in regional and national exhibitions and they have developed a reputation in the local region for their fine work.

“Our Tuesdays are sacrosanct!” says Gumnut artist Wendy Antoniak, who, at 77, relishes the chance to refine her botanical paintings, and loves the learning process as much as the exhibition end-point.

The collective, who meet every Tuesday at The Link, mainly works in watercolour, acrylic, and colour pencil, and while there are no restrictions, most stay focussed on the botanical realm.

Wendy says most artists bring specimens in to study and paint, but the surrounding region of Straithnairn provides a wider source of inspiration and she and her colleagues were soon going to attempt some landscape work “in plein air”.

“We are inspired by our surroundings and the facilities out here are delightful.”

For Wendy, who has been retired from her administrative job for some years, Tuesdays allow her immense focus. “Painting is my passion.”

“When I paint I feel very calm and in the moment. I love it and every week I learn something new or improve on some aspect. Of course, not all my work is worthy of showing and some weeks it ends up in the bin!”

One of the aspects of working in the group was the support and feedback of the other artists.

“We all understand each other’s passion, and can pass judgement and ask for constructive criticism and receive it kindly and genuinely in a very supportive way.”

The feedback was particularly important in the lead-up to the group’s six-monthly exhibition schedule.

“None of us are trying to make a living out of painting alone—we would all be much skinnier if we did! But we do love the excitement of an exhibition and often our works sell very well.”

“We may be amateurs but we put countless hours into our art”.

Wendy noted that Gumnuts also presented an opportunity for buyers to snap up original works are much lower prices than galleries.

“Our work is of a professional standard but we don’t charge professional rates. We all love to sell a piece, of course, but the joy is in the process of creating it”

You can view the artist’s work as part of  the Botanic Art Group’s 17th Annual Exhibition showing at the Visitor Centre, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra. The exhibition is open from 9.30am – 4.30pm daily, until 5 May 2024. 

Keep an eye out for future exhibitions at The Link. 

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