New Arrivals – a gallery exhibition

An exhibition currently showing at the World Theatre Gallery has been inspired by an artist who is among the 28 per cent of the Australian population who were born overseas.

The “New Arrivals” exhibition was inspired by artist Jacques van der Merwe who arrived in Queensland with his wife and two children from South Africa in 2008. The family were looking for a place where they could live without the constant fear of crime and potential for violence they experienced in Pretoria.

Upon moving to Mount Tamborine, in the Queensland’s Gold coast hinterland, Jacques found a community of artists and writers, many of whom were also born outside Australia. He began the “New Arrivals” series in 2012 with portraits of some of these new friends. Some had been in Australia for decades, like the ‘ten pound pom’ neighbour Terence Kitching, who came to Australia as a young man in the early sixties, seeking adventure.

Others such as German-born artist Brigitte Boering and American artist Mike Taylor, came here as tourists and fell in love with Australia.

The next group of “New Arrivals” that Jacques sought out to paint were refugees, finding themselves here in Australia after fleeing their country of birth.

The initial group of portraits, painted in 2012, was first exhibited in Beaudesert in 2013. For a second exhibition at Logan Art Gallery in 2015, Jacques added new portraits of both migrants and refugees living or working in Logan.

These are among the subjects which feature in the “New Arrivals” exhibition that is currently showing at the World Theatre Gallery.

Mayor Liz Schmidt is encouraging locals to visit the gallery and view the “New Arrivals” exhibition.

“Over the years, there have been many outstanding exhibitions shown at our World Theatre Gallery,” Cr Schmidt said.

“The images in this exhibition are also outstanding and I would encourage every local to find the time to view this exhibition and appreciate the skills of this amazing artist.”

The “New Arrivals” portraits are all 122 x 91cm; they are the same dimensions so that all are equal, like enlarged passport photographs. Each portrait was painted quickly with bold expressionist brush strokes, the composition loosely dictated by snapshot photographs taken while interviewing the sitter.

By painting fast, Jacques allowed details derived from the sitters’ stories to appear almost without his conscious control.

 “New Arrivals” is a visual portrait of ordinary people representing over a quarter of the Australian population.

The “New Arrivals” exhibition is showing at the World Theatre Galley until 31 March. The gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday each week.

MG 2 Feb 2017

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