Petrus Spronk

Dear reader: Last week, as part of the Swiss Italian Festa, the directors of Radius Art Gallery organised a landscape art exhibition as part of the Swiss-Italian Festa. Maybe because I donated the prize money, I was asked to present a talk as part of the prize ceremony. I received an excellent response, so I thought I’d share it with my readers. Hoping that you’ll get something out of it. And here it is.

Good afternoon.

Welcome to this, another celebration at the Radius Art Gallery.

I would like to start by thanking both Morgan and Kim, who, in an expression of their generosity of spirit, once again hosted another great event.

This is a sort of post script to the exhibition because it closes at the end of today’s session. This leaves you just today with the opportunity to obtain one of these fine pieces on display. I mention pieces, because it is interesting to me, while viewing this exhibition, to realise that these are not artworks here. But I’ll deal with that problem a little later.

What then should I talk about at the opening of this exhibition, when it is almost closed. Maybe I’ll offer you a few thoughts.

Previously this event was an exhibition of paintings only, but now, as the result of an earlier discussion between Morgan and myself, it is open to all art disciplines.

The exhibition had a very short time to be organised, however, the artists with the combo of Morgan and Kim came up with the goods and the result is all around you. Much local talent on display.

You don’t have to know anything about art to enjoy this show. The works are so varied, that I feel there is something for everyone to be inspired by. However, the more you have studied, and participated, in ‘art’ activities the richer the experience of viewing art is likely to be. Knowing the language is also helpful because it earns you a way into art’s domain.

Let me now tell you what I overheard a few moments ago. Because that is not the language of art, although many, if not most, use it as such. Standing in front of a painting, person one to person two: “I don’t like this”. To which person two replied: “I just love it”. At that moment two shutters fell across their eyes. Judgements were expressed. And, as with all judgements, there is something final about them. And as a result it was the end of any possibility of learning about the work. The point when viewing art is to communicate with the work. No one gives a shit whether you like it or not.

How then do we view this collection on display? Approach each work with an open heart. An empty heart, my friend the Zen monk, in his wisdom, would say. This would allow the work to speak for itself. All it takes is some quiet time with the work. If you are an attentive listener you will hear the artist at work. Listen carefully.
We are here to celebrate the Swiss-Italian Festa with an expression of various art forms.

What can I say to the artists that hasn’t been said before. Nothing, so in this part of my address I’ll speak to those folks in the audience who are not artists. However, the artists are most welcome to listen in.

Dear visitors to the gallery, It is important that we keep these Radius events alive to remind both the artists and you, the audience, of the importance of art in our daily lives. Consider this, and then imagine the alternative – life without art and poetry. I mean the art and poetry of everything. Imagine therefore doing without the art of sculpture, the art of architecture, the art of dance, but also the art of cooking and the art of gardening etc.. Without ‘the art’, without the spirit, all these activities would be dead. This means, they would not inspire, they would not excite, they would not enrich. Art, like science, is important because it inspires both exploration and greatness in all fields of human endeavour.

The artists, for whom I speak, plays, and through their play with ideas and materials, occasionally comes up with a revelation, a beautiful idea, an exquisite object, an inspiring dance, a great building and intriguing story or a moving poem.

The artist and the poet explore and share the possibilities of magic in an otherwise ordinary world. They show, in one way or another, that there is always another way. The artist and the poet are needed in our community because they teach us the importance of play in the process of learning. They remind us of something as simple, but relevant, as our childhood, when there was much magic, much play and much learning. The magic found in experiencing things for the very first time.

This is what artist and poets do – they awaken in us a sense of wonder, which is the driver of a creative life. They take us on a journey, a special journey in a world where we are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.

Any art material has at its core the potential for magic, and the job of the artist is to expose that magic, whether it is in the creation of a garden, an interior, a loaf of bread, or the objects of today’s consideration, and the artist’s soul work, art making.

And now the final notes for the artists, and here the non-artist is also welcome to listen in. We have come to the sticky question of why I think there are no artworks in this room. Simple really.

First of all I made that statement to get your attention, and secondly, because it is true.

But let me explain. The magic of any artwork, and here I do not mean the physical objects, but the actual art work, which is the mental and physical activity of the artist in his or her studio. That is the art work. That is where it is at, wherever that studio manifest. The studio, which in turn is everywhere, the artist practices his or her skills. So, if the artist walks into the forest and starts making an artwork then that is where the studio is. And what we have here, in the exhibition, are not artworks, but to be precise, they are the results of the artwork. I am sure the artists know what I mean.

Not wanting to become a bore, I’ll finish my deliberations and declare the exhibition open. And closed. And I would ask you to do the same with your purse, so we can continue to bring you interesting and inspiring events.

I’ll finish where I started. With a ps. No, not my initials, the other ps. The postscript one.

I wanted this exhibition, the first one after COVID, to set the standard, to be a success and to get the walls filled with paintings and the gallery with a full house, because I think art is that important. And, looking around me, I think we have succeeded.

Thank you for your attention.

Petrus Spronk is a local artist and author who contributes a monthly column to The Wombat Post.

And the winners are:

Julie Kluwer with “Lalgambuk”. (Photo: Robyn Rogers)

First Place, the Petrus Spronk $1000 prize winner, was Julie Kluwer for her painting “Lalgambuk” (Gouache on Sanders HP Paper).

David Rosendale with “Bound to Follow”. (Photo: Robyn Rogers)

The Radius Encouragement Award was to David Rosendale, for his photograph, “Bound to Follow”.

Pamela Gleeson with “Gooch’s Gold”. (Photo: Robyn Rogers)

The People’s Choice Award was to Pamela Gleeson for “Gooch’s Gold” (oil on canvas).