101 episodes

Maria Stoljar talks with Australian painters about how they became an artist, their painting techniques, influences and current work.

Talking with Painters Maria Stoljar

    • Visual Arts
    • 3.0 • 2 Ratings

Maria Stoljar talks with Australian painters about how they became an artist, their painting techniques, influences and current work.

    Ep 101: Joshua Yeldham

    Ep 101: Joshua Yeldham

    Joshua Yeldham's imagery is steeped in nature. His large works range from portraying the landscape with its stunning mystical trees, to figures with a tribal aesthetic, to his iconic owls which he has famously painted and sculpted multiple times over the years, even as a self portrait. 

    As you get closer to these works you realise they are intricately composed with astonishing detail. And the marks aren’t limited to paint. They’re often created through carving into the board or paper and in some cases even by inserting pieces of cane into the surface which protrude to create an exciting visual experience. The sculptural quality of Joshua's work is both beautiful and technically outstanding.

    His works often reference the landscape near his home on Sydney’s Pittwater where untouched bushland converges on the Hawkesbury River, a short boat trip from his home. Nature plays a crucial role in his art and he spends significant periods of time connecting with it.

    Although he experienced a challenging time at boarding school, his life took an adventurous turn when he completed his schooling in Switzerland - from risking his life in the mountains of Venezuela to living in an abandoned double decker bus in the Australian desert. His early successes even took him to L.A. after receiving an Emmy for a film he wrote, directed and produced in his early 20s.

    He has exhibited in over 30 solo shows, including a well-received survey show, and his work is highly sought after in Australia and internationally. 

    To hear my conversation with Joshua press 'play' beneath the above photo.

    I also filmed Joshua in his studio where he uses a rotary tool to carve into his work and that video will be on the Talking with Painters YouTube channel and the website in the coming weeks. 

    His powerful exhibition 'Providence' is now showing at Sydney’s Arthouse Gallery and will continue until 21 November 2020.

    For more information about Joshua's work, visit his website here.

    'Monstera Deliciosa Owl', 2020, acrylic and cane on hand-carved board, 210 x 159cm

    'Yeomans Bay - Bird Rock', 2020, acrylic and cane on hand-carved board, 202 x 246cm

    'Angophora - Yeomans Bay', 2020, acrylic and cane on hand-carved board

    'Providence', 2020, acrylic cane and instrument on hand-carved board, 202 x 246cm

    'Self portrait - Morning Bay', 2013, instrument, cane, shells and oil on carved board 200 x 244cmFinalist, The Archibald Prize, 2013, AGNSW

    'Mother tree - Morning Bay' 2017, acrylic on hand-carved paper, 210 x 210 cm Finalist, The Wynne Prize, 2017, AGNSW

    • 1 hr 28 min
    Ep 100: Archibald Wynne and Sulman tour

    Ep 100: Archibald Wynne and Sulman tour

    An edited version of this episode is also a video which you can see here:

    When I started this podcast in July 2016 with no knowledge of audio recording - let alone how to start a podcast - I never imagined that four years later I would have interviewed close to a hundred painters, as well as curators and authors, and have a YouTube channel with over 100 videos filmed on my iPhone.

    Building up this podcast would not have been possible, though, without the encouragement of those close to me and the time and generosity of my guests as well as many others' support in the wonderful Australian arts community.

    It has also been a privilege to get to know so many of you listeners either through messages, comments on social media or meeting you in person. Even if we haven't had any contact, you are the reason I keep doing the show so thank you for listening.

    I couldn't think of a better place to celebrate the centenary episode than the Art Gallery of NSW where about a quarter of my podcast guests are finalists in the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes. So I'd like to say a big thankyou to the Art Gallery of NSW who allowed me in with my selfie stick to film and speak in front of these works. 

    You can listen to this episode as an audio guide if you are at the gallery (scroll down for a map of where the works are), watch the edited version as a video here or just listen as an audio episode - all the works are reproduced below.

    Click here to see the map if you are looking at this on your podcast app.

    Next to each artist's name is a time marking for each painting so you can skip forward or back.


    The Sulman Prize

    1. Joanna Braithwaite (3:12)

    'Hoopla' oil on canvas 175 x 198.5 x 2 cm

    2. Alan Jones (4:00)

    Painting 266 (Mike Kenny Oval), acrylic on board, 144 x 157.5cm

    3. Katherine Hattam (5:00)

    'History and fiction', oil on linen, 152 x 152cm

    4. Paul Ryan (5:57)

    'Three imaginary boys', oil on linen, 138 x 153cm

    5. Abdul Abdullah (7:04)

    'We didn't start the fire', oil on linen, 198.5 x 163cm

    6. Marikit Santiago (winner) (8:05)

    'The divine', acrylic, oil, pen, pyrography and 18ct gold leaf on ply, 179.5 x 120.5cm

    The Wynne Prize

    7. Aida Tomescu (9:20)

    'Silent spring', oil on linen, 200.5 x 307 x 6.5 cm

    8. Del Kathryn Barton (10:30)

    ' I take it down to the flow', bronze, acrylic-painted MDF plinth 190 x 75 x 55 cm

    9. Tim Storrier (11:35)

    'The plague year (an itinerant's repose), acrylic on canvas, 107 x 300cm

    10. Natasha Bieniek (12:30)

    'Lalla', oil on gold mirror Dibond, 57 x 43.5cm

    11. Luke Sciberras (13:20)

    'White Christmas, Bell, NSW', oil on board, 160 x 244cm

    12. Lucy Culliton (14:30)

    'Gunningrah, Bottom Bullock', oil on canvas, 183 x 183cm

    13. Hubert Pareroultja (winner) (15:15)

    'Tjoritja (West MacDonnell Ranges, NT)', acrylic on canvas, 183 x 244cm

    14. Guy Maestri (16:12)

    'The rain song', oil on linen,

    • 32 min
    Ep 99: Wendy Sharpe and ‘Magic’

    Ep 99: Wendy Sharpe and ‘Magic’

    You can also watch this episode as a video here. To hear the episode as an audio podcast click on 'play' above.

    Leading artist Wendy Sharpe talks with me in her Sydney studio about her fabulous show 'Magic' at King Street Gallery on William.

    We also talk about the controversy around her Sulman finalist painting ‘The Witches’ in 2016, her involvement in the innovative SBS show Life Drawing Live, the story behind her striking Archibald portrait of Magda Szubanski and lots more. 

    I previously interviewed Wendy on the podcast in 2018 where we talked about her life and how she became an artist. You can hear that episode here.

    'Magic' continues at King Street Gallery on William until 24 October 2020.


    Artist Wendy Sharpe talks with Maria Stoljar

    'Fluid Time', 2020, oil on linen, 84 x 92cm

    'Walking home', 2020, oil on linen, 145 x 170cm

    'Night Magic', 2014, oil on linen, 183 x 145cm

    'The Witches', 2016, oil on linen, 160 x 146.5cmFinalist, Sir John Sulman Prize, 2016

    'Wheel of Fortune', 2020, oil on linen, 125 x 125cm

    'Erskineville station', 2018, oil on canvas, 145 x 183cmFinalist Sir John Sulman Prize

    'Hocus pocus', 2020, oil on linen, 147 x 183cm

    'Forever is composed of nows', 2020, oil on linen, 145 x 160cm

    'Other people's monsters', 2019, oil on linen, 125 x 125cm

    Wendy with the papier mache sculpture which she made and which appears in her paintings.

    'Magda Szubanski - comedy and tragedy' 2020, oil on linen, 183 x 147cmFinalist Archibald Prize 2020

    Sketches Wendy made in preparation for the Szubanski Archibald portrait

    Jan Matejko'Stanczyk', 1862, oil on canvas, 120 x 88cm

    • 33 min
    Ep 98: Wayne Tunnicliffe, curator of ‘Streeton’

    Ep 98: Wayne Tunnicliffe, curator of ‘Streeton’

    In the late 19th century, impressionism swept through the art world. In Australia, a group of young artists embraced the new movement - they would meet in artist's camps and paint en plein air. Among them was a young Arthur Streeton who would in due course become one of Australia's most loved and respected artists.  

    Wayne Tunnicliffe has curated an outstanding retrospective of Streeton’s work. Wayne is Head Curator of Australian art at the Art Gallery of NSW, and the retrospective gathers together over 150 of Streeton’s works, some not seen in public in over 100 years. This is Streeton as he has never been seen before.

    Wayne had the idea for the exhibition when he was curatorial adviser to an exhibition of Australian impressionists at the National Gallery in London. It was clear to him that Streeton stood out as the most significant landscape painter in the group.

    It makes sense that this retrospective is held at the Art Gallery of NSW. Not only does the Gallery have the largest collection of Streetons anywhere in the world, but they started buying his work in 1890 when he was an emerging artist at only 23 years of age. 

    In this episode we explore Streeton's life: his early years, his meeting some of the key figures in Australian art, his experience of life in London and during WWI, and his later years back in Australia. We also dig deep into a couple of the works with Wayne providing some fascinating insights.

    To hear the interview press 'play' beneath the above feature photo. You can see images of the works we talk about below.

    Streeton opens at the Art Gallery of NSW on 7 November 2020 and runs until 14 February 2021. To purchase tickets to the exhibition click here.


    Video excerpt from the podcast interview with Wayne Tunnicliffe on the forthcoming exhibition 'Streeton'. Here we talk about the iconic painting 'Fire's On' from the AGNSW's collection. To hear the full audio podcast episode (and more about this painting) click on the 'play' button under the feature photo at the top of this page.

    'Golden Summer, Eaglemont', 1889, oil on canvas, 81.3 x 152.6cmNational Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1995

    ‘Still glides the stream, and shall for ever glide’ 1890, oil on canvas, later mounted on hardboard, 82.6 x 153 cm Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, purchased 1890 Photo: Jenni Carter, AGNSW

    'Spring', 1890, oil on canvas on plywood, 81.4 x 152.6cmNational Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Gift of Mrs Margery Pierce, 1978

    'Fire's on', 1891, oil on canvas 225.5 x 164 cm, Art Gallery of New South Wales Purchased 1893 Photo: Jenni Carter, AGNSW

    'From McMahon's Point - fare one penny' 1890 oil on canvas 117.7 x 97.5 cm National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 1972

    ‘The purple noon’s transparent might’ 1896 oil on canvas, 123 x 123 cm National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, purchased 1896 33-2 Photo: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

    'The Grand Canal' 1908 oil on canvas, 93 x 169 cm Collection of Susan Clarke, Victoria Photo: Glen Watson

    Arthur Streeton 'Balloons on fire' 1918 oil on canvas 63.4 × 76.2 cm National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gilbee Bequest, 1918 Photo: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

    • 52 min
    Ep 97: Jude Rae and ‘424-428’

    Ep 97: Jude Rae and ‘424-428’

    After months of disruption and pessimism wreaked by the global pandemic, seeing Jude Rae's exhibition '424-428' at The Commercial in Sydney was as uplifting as the paintings themselves.

    The towering concrete walls of the gallery would ordinarily overpower an exhibition of five paintings but the exquisite works easily took command of the space. Viewing the exhibition will be an experience I'll never forget.

    The genre of still life has a rich tradition in the history of painting; from those Cézannian apples and Margaret Preston's flowers to the skulls of the Dutch painters reminding us that one day we’re all going to die. They say so much more than mere objects on a table.

    The subjects of Jude Rae's still life paintings, however, aren’t flowers or fruit. They range from gas cylinders and milk crates to plastic buckets, bottles and spaghetti jars. She's attracted to these objects not necessarily because of any intrinsic beauty but because of the potential they present to her as a painter. 'They give me work to do', she says.

    Jude's work is not limited to still life. She's an acclaimed portraitist and has won the Portia Geach Memorial Award for portraiture twice. Last year her portrait of Sarah Peirse was highly commended in the Archibald prize. She also paints mood-filled architectural interiors and both the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia recently acquired excellent examples of those works.

    Jude is a previous podcast guest and you can hear more about her  life and how she became an artist in episode 28.

    We met at the gallery for this interview where I also filmed Jude talking about her work. Scroll down to see that video.

    You can also see my 2017 video of Jude in her studio here.

    To hear Jude Rae speak with me on the podcast about her recent work press 'play' beneath the above photo.

    Show Notes

    Jude RaeJude Rae on Instagram


    Jude Rae talks with me about her exhibition '424-428'

    'SL425', 2020, oil on linen, 112 x 137.5cmPhoto: Felicity Jenkins

    'SL426', 2020, oil on linen, 122 x 137.5cmPhoto: Felicity Jenkins

    'SL427', 2020, oil on linen, 122 x 137.5cmPhoto: Felicity Jenkins

    'SL424', 2020, oil on linen, 112 x 137.5cmPhoto: Felicity Jenkins

    'SL428', 2020, oil on linen, 112 x 137.5cmPhoto: Felicity Jenkins

    Detail of 'SL428' in progress (unfinished)

    'Interior 370 (foyer I)', 2017, oil on linen, 260 x 198cmCollection: Art Gallery of NSW

    'SL189', 2006, oil on linen, 1050 x 1350mm

    Installation view Jude Rae: 424 - 428, at The Commercial, Sydney, 2020 (photo: The Commercial)

    • 39 min
    Ep 96: Scott Bevan on William Dobell

    Ep 96: Scott Bevan on William Dobell

    Reading Scott Bevan’s biography of 20th century artist William Dobell is like viewing one of Dobell’s portraits; Scott takes us behind the exterior of the subject and into their inner life. He just uses words instead of paint.

    Scott is a journalist, TV and radio presenter, musician and biographer. In this podcast interview, I talk with him about the life of Dobell in the context of the changing art world of the 20th century. 

    In particular, we go back seventy seven years to when William Dobell famously won the Archibald Prize with a portrait of his friend Joshua Smith. With less than flattering facial features and elongated arms and neck , the painting was a clear and challenging departure from the more traditional portraits of the previous years.

    Almost every Australian held a view on that painting. Some were excited, some were shocked - others were even angry. In an unprecedented turn of events, two entrants who missed out on the prize started a court action to try to stop Dobell from receiving the prize money. Those events in 1943 would not only change the course of art in Australia but would traumatise Dobell and Smith for years to come.

    In ‘Bill: The Life of William Dobell’, Scott takes us into Dobell’s life through the people who knew him, both in Sydney and in the town of Wangi Wangi where he ultimately found peace from the scrutiny surrounding the events of 1943. Most of all he brings to life the complex artist that was William Dobell with enthusiasm and empathy.

    To hear the podcast episode, click play beneath the feature photo above.

    To purchase a copy of the book click on the book's title in the show notes below.

    Photo: Scott Bevan stands in front of a painting by Susan O'Doherty

    Show Notes

    Scott Bevan'Bill: The Life of William Dobell'Sir William DobellJulian AshtonGeorge LambertHenry TonksWilliam OrpenJoshua SmithMargaret Olley

    'Bill: The Life of William Dobell' by Scott Bevan

    'Portrait of an Artist (Joshua Smith)' before it was destroyed by fireWinner of Archibald Prize 1943

    'The Duchess Disrobes', 1936, oil on plywood, 35.5 x 27cmCollection: Art Gallery of NSW

    Mrs South Kensington, 1937, oil on wood panel, 38.2 x 33.2cm Collection: Art Gallery of NSW

    'Margaret Olley', 1948, oil on hardboard, 114.3 x 85.7 cm boardCollection: Art Gallery of NSWWinner Archibald Prize 1948

    'Storm Approaching, Wangi', 1948, oil on cardboard on composition board, 32.9 x 56cmWinner Wynne Prize 1948

    • 1 hr 15 min

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