Painter sees desert’s heart
By WENDY STEPHENS
BEECHWORTH Three Miles artist Alan Phillips has returned from a highly successful exhibition of artworks as a feature of Desert Festival Week in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
The 27 works were painted from August last year after Mr Phillips joined an expedition into the Gibson Desert along the Rawlinson Range, in Western Australia – as previously reported in the Ovens and Murray Advertiser.
“I joined the scientific expedition as the artist along with three scientists,” he said.
“One was looking for new flora in the Gibson, one was looking for mammals and tracing the tracks of a mammologist from an earlier expedition in 1934, and one was a geologist.
“I collected information, taking notes, photographs and making drawings.”
Mr Phillips’ show – ‘ Paintings from the Gibson Desert: a journey of discovery’ – was held in the Olive Pink Gallery in the Alice Springs’ Botanic Gardens of the same name.
“I would go out into the landscape the early morning or in the evening when the colours were extraordinary and were changing from minute to minute from vivid reds and oranges to the most amazing deep purples and ultramarine shadows,” he said.
“I came home to my studio here in Beechworth and spent the last 12 months working on 30 paintings, 27 of which I took with me ( for the Pink exhibition).
“We slotted the show into Desert Festival Week and the response was amazing, attracting the highest number of visitors ever recorded at the gallery over a 10- day period.
“About 1500 people passed through and the director, Ian Coleman, commented to me that their social media page had more than 13,000 hits.”
Mr Phillips believes his depiction of the Gibson was a first for other than an indigenous artist and the works attracted deep interest from the Territory community.
“I also ran a workshop titled ‘ Drawing the Desert’ and gave an artist’s talk and both events were booked out immediately.”
Mr Phillips and Joy, his wife – a writer – gave proceeds for brain cancer research.
“Next year I plan to go to Erldunda, a lovely mountain range just off the Lassiter Highway on the way to Uluru,” Mr Phillips said.
WORK OF ART: Alan Phillips with ‘Sladen Waters revisited’ one his paintings from the Gibson Desert series expedition.