New exhibition gives unique perspective on city landmarks

City of Newcastle

A new exhibition highlighting the beauty of everyday objects will also provide a snapshot in time of Newcastle’s ever-evolving history.

RACHEL MILNE: Nest is the first major solo exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery by local artist Rachel Milne.

Rachel MILNE Construction 2020 oil on board 80.0 x 100.0cm Les Renfrew Bequest 2020 Newcastle Art Gallery collection, courtesy the artist

Featuring intimate paintings and portraits set in her home and studio, as well as plein air landscapes of iconic places in Newcastle, the exhibition also includes a series of paintings completed while Rachel was the artist in residence at the former David Jones building.

Abandoned at the time, Milne’s artworks capture a unique moment in the history of the iconic former department store, which is now on the verge of permanent change as part of Iris Capital’s East End development.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the exhibition gives the community an opportunity to experience Newcastle landmarks and everyday objects from someone else’s point of view.

“It is wonderful to see Newcastle Art Gallery showcasing the work of a highly regarded local artist, whose paintings beautifully capture so many different perspectives that will be familiar to Newcastle audiences,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Whether it’s the view from the stage of the Victoria Theatre to the interior of the old David Jones building, which at one time was the heart of retail activity in Newcastle and is in the process of being reinvented by Iris Capital for future generations of residents and visitors to enjoy, Rachel’s work provides a fascinating snapshot in time as our city continues to grow and evolve.”

The English-born artist moved to Newcastle in 2013 and quickly made her mark on the local art scene as the winner of the Singleton Portraiture Prize that year. A three-time finalist in the Kilgour Prize at Newcastle Art Gallery, Milne also made the shortlist twice in the prestigious Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW and has work in the collections of Bathurst and Maitland Regional Art Galleries as well as Newcastle.

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton said Milne’s richly layered observational works were a wonderful example of the artistic genre of Intimisim, which captures the beauty of everyday objects and scenes.

“Milne’s observational paintings depict ordinary objects like a child’s pram, a chair from her studio or food she has prepared. Paintings of local public swimming pools depict nostalgic scenes that have remained unchanged for years,” Ms Morton said.

“The exhibition also includes recently created works of art by Milne on display for the first time. A series of paintings set in Newcastle artists’ cooperative, Creator Incubator, provide insight into a vibrant creative arts community set in a large industrial space, now re-purposed and part of Newcastle’s ever-evolving history.”

RACHEL MILNE: Nest will be on display at Newcastle Art Gallery from 15 May – 1 August, 2021. As part of the opening weekend, Rachel will take part in a talk with writer Laura Jackel from 2pm on 15 May that will explore Newcastle’s ever-evolving urban landscape and the enduring reference to beauty in the everyday in Milne’s work.

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