Utopia Art Sydney has represented John R Walker for 30 years and is always happy to handle any enquiry about the artist and his work.
Utopia Art Sydney stages regular exhibitions of John R Walker’s paintings and works on paper and maintains a stockroom of his work. For more information, please contact Utopia Art Sydney 983 Bourke St, Waterloo (Sydney), email here or phone +61 2 9319 6437.
Covid19 our confinement
Its been 8 weeks, however, it hasn’t been too bad. In particular, having a garden that is lush and green (after the smokey desolate dry wasteland that it was in January), has been simply wonderful (we had enough toilet paper :-)). We have occupied ourselves with garden projects, resurrected the Byzantine army I made as a teenager, renaming our block as ‘The Far Eastern Thema of the Empire of Byzantium’ and in general have decided that a sane response to insanity is insanity.
And… lots of cooking, using many of our homegrown vegies and edible weeks. Recipes, click here.
Fires near Braidwood
At the end of October 2019, it simply stopped raining over all of our region. Since the 1 November, we have had a total of 4ml of rain and in December nothing measurable. Worse still, we have had many days of very hot, dry NW winds powering out of the centre of Australia sucking what little moisture that was left out of everything. The Shoalhaven River is no longer flowing, barely a chain of ponds and even the Mongarlowe River which rises in cloud forests that normally create their own rain weather, is reduced to a trickle. These extremely dry conditions have come on top of two years of well-below average rainfall which has dried out and cured the decades of fuel that have built up in the forests surrounding us. Many of these forests have not seen a significant fire since the 1950s or even as far back as 1939.
Lightning strikes started fires to the west of Braidwood on the Great Dividing Range in the forests of Tallaganda (officially called the North Black Range fire) as well as starting fires in the lower Clyde Valley near Nelligan (officially called the Currowan fire). On Friday 29 November, we flew back into Canberra and passed over the towering fire cumulous clouds of the North Black Range fire, at that stage about 8 kms on the outskirts of Braidwood. As we drove home (just making it through before the RFS and Police closed the Kings Highway between Canberra and Braidwood), clouds of smoke and the burning line became stronger. That evening and the next day and night, the local RFS, a number of grader drives and marvellous mob of mosquitoe brigades (people in utes with 1,000l of water containers on the back of the ute, who put out spot fires) worked tirelessly to protect outlying properties and the perimeter of the town of Braidwood. The graders operated without halt for 30 hours! On Saturday 30 November, I was in my studio at the back of our property and suddenly heard the sound of a large jet airliner only a few hundred feet overhead and I knew that it had to be a large water bomber. We raced to our upstairs front balcony and watched it paint Mt Gillamatong pink; this protected the communications towers at the top. By Sunday evening, the most serious threat to the actual town had eased.
Our concerns turned to our friends and neighbours in outlying properties. By then the Currowan fire, to the east of Braidwood, had burned up the Clyde Mountain and was trickling over Mt Budawang threatening the villages of Mongarlowe, Charleys Forest and the ancient rainforest near Monga. A dear friend from Mongarlowe, with limited mobility, came to stay with us on 1 December – like many evacuees, it was not safe for her to return. Braidwood and villages has a small volunteer-run community radio station and its principal co-ordinator, Gordon Waters, a local, became the communications and information centre for the whole district. As well as regularly getting updates and working with the RFS liaison officers, he had wonderful locals putting in regular updates: ‘Phil on the Hill’, ‘Mat on the Flat’ and ‘Vera in the Village’. By 5 December the situation at Mongarlowe particularly was very sharp. Over and over again, the fire would leap out of the forest and threaten to burn through the open country into farms and houses. Repeatedly, the RFS would jump on these outbreaks and wrangle control. This continued for about 3 weeks. During this period a massive containment line was created: over many kilometres, a broad area of ground was bulldozed, through often very difficult country, thus creating a line that could be defended. Over this period, locals delivered huge amounts food, cakes, drinks, wipes, etc to the various fire sheds to support these wonderful volunteers.
By around the 19 December, both the Currowan fire in the Clyde Valley and the fire near Mongarlowe had moved towards the north east. On Saturday 22 December the Tianjara and Currowan fires joined, with the villages of Nerriga and Sassafras under threat. Most of the Nerriga locals took shelter in the Nerriga Pub while RFS strike teams protected the pub from ember attack. A significant number of houses and buildings were destroyed including many historically valuable properties. Thankfully no-one was killed or seriously injured. By Christmas Eve, the firefront stretched from just west of Nowra and Jervis Bay to about 20 kms west of Nerriga and was and still is, poised to threaten the Southern Highlands (Bungonia, Penrose, the Kangaroo Valley as well as the western edges of Nowra along the Shoalhaven River.
Yesterday, this fire burnt down through to Conjola and to the south of Bateman’s Bay, causing enormous damage and distress. Further to the south in Cobargo, a father and son trying to defend their house were killed and much of the historic main street was consumed by flame.
Back in our neck to the woods, the area to the south – Reidsdale, Tudor Valley Rd and through to Majors Creek – is still on high alert but a combination of hard work and the luck of a favourable wind shift, makes me hope that they may have contained it and may hold this to get it largely blacked out. That our region has so far got through this reasonably OK is a testament to the self-organising, community orientated and individualist spirit of the bush. However, away from here, fires still pose severe risks. Without significant, sustained rain it seems inevitable that the northern edge of the Currowan fire will burn through to Kangaroo Valley, a distance of almost 200 kms north from where it started. As to the far South Coast, there are still large areas of forest that have not burnt, whose eastern edges are very close to small villages and holiday houses.
The weather forecast for Friday 3 and Saturday 4 January 2020 is for very high temps with strong NW winds and extreme fire danger.
The next few weeks were too intense and awful to update at the time. It was weeks of endlessly checking hoses, buckets, keeping a constant eye on the flag on the nearby church to check wind direction and doing what we could to help and support the community. The greasy stench of the smoke was awful: it stank of burnt flesh. The main street of Braidwood was quiet; the only activity was endless queues of RFS tankers and other emergency vehicles refuelling, before heading back out to the fire grounds.
The first fall of rain on 16 January, eased but did not end the emergency. It was only the arrival of widespread, heavy rain (and flooding) about 7 February that finally put an end to the fires. As of mid May 2020, the long process of rebuilding, repairing continues.
John R Walker & Euan MacLeod
John R Walker’s Kalyanka and Darling at Kalyanka
Come and hear painters, John R Walker and Euan MacLeod, discuss their experiences of, and responses to, the Darling River landscape around Wilcannia.
SUNDAY 27 October @ 3pm
Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm
$12.00 – General
Book in for lunch at the Trust Cafe
S H Ervin Gallery, Observatory Hill Sydney: Opening Friday 19 September, the exhibition is open to the public from 20 September to 3 November 2019.
October-November 2018: There’s something endlessly fresh about a sheet of paper, a brush and some black ink….
July 2018 Six Days at Bundanon and I give thanks to Boyd 2001, acquired by the National Gallery of Australia
Wynne Prize finalist @ AGNSW
12 MAY to 9 SEPTEMBER 2018
West of Wilcannia II 2017
ADELAIDE BIENNIAL 2018 website goes LIVE!
plus read Varia Karipoff’s interview for Art Guide with John R Walker – HERE!
John R Walker’s magnum opus, Burra Oratunga Suite, Adelaide Biennial ‘Divided Worlds’ @ Art Gallery of South Australia 3 March – 3 June, 2018.
Includes works by John R Walker from his Shed series. Opening Friday 13 April.
Yes its the 30th anniversary of Utopia Art Sydney representing John R Walker
and of the opening of Australia’s ‘new’ Parliament House
Bouddi 1987, oil on canvas. Parliament House Art Collection. On display.
And a recent interview by Varia Karipoff for January’s ART GUIDE, in preparation for the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art opening Friday 2 March: read it HERE!
John R Walker is one of the selected participating artists in the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art which opens as part of the Adelaide Festival on Friday 2 March 2018. Curated by Erica Green, Director of Samstag Museum of Art, the exhibition will run from 3 March to 3 June at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Samstag Museum of Art and Adelaide’s Royal Botanic Gardens. John’s major suite will be in one of the main galleries of AGSA. Let John know if you are planning to be in Adelaide for the Biennial launch from 2-4 March 2018.
There is also a possible launch of smaller works on paper with a performance scheduled for mid April in Burra, South Australia. Again if you are interested in coming down for this while visiting Adelaide, please do let us know.
John’s major work for the Biennial draws inspiration from Burra and surrounds as well as the northern Flinders Ranges. Burra is an historic mining town (with a history somewhat similar to Braidwood) and also a favoured location for a number major Australian films (again, similar to Braidwood). For information about accommodation, wine trails, Adelaide, Flinders Ranges and Burra go to Visit South Australia.
‘Hay Plains’ new work catalogue
5-26 August 2017 utopia art sydney
Wynne Prize finalist @ AGNSW
29 July to 22 October 2017
Callitris, Oratunga 2016
Artist Profile: Australasian Painters 2007-2017
8 July to 10 September 2017
Orange Regional Gallery
Saturday 1 April: opening of Utopia Art Sydney’s NEW space
72 Henderson Rd Alexandria 2015
tuesday – saturday 10 – 5
by appointment, all welcome
The Mandarin – a serious and respected Australian public sector forum – recently published as article I co-authored with economist, Nicholas Gruen on the artist resale royalty scheme:
Definitely worth a read. It was picked up by another policy forum here:
Artist talk: John R Walker @ S H Ervin Gallery, Saturday 28 August, 3pm.
The Salon des Refusés S H Ervin Gallery 16 July to 18 September 2016
Country and Western: Landscape re-imagined 1988-2013 touring to 2017
Blue Mountains City Art Gallery 8 Jan – 6 March
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery 19 March – 8 May
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery 13 May – 3 July
Orange Regional Gallery 9 July to 28 August
Cairns Regional Gallery 16 September – 13 November
Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory 26 Nov – 19 March 2017
The Drawing Room Tamworth Regional Gallery 6 February to 19 March 2016
Here I give thanks…. Utopia Art Sydney 28 October to 21 November 2015
UTOPIA ART SYDNEY
special opening invitation
John R Walker
Here I give thanks
28 October – 21 November 2015
please join us to celebrate with the artist
Wednesday 28 October 5.30-7.30pm
to be opened by Glenn Barkley
2015 Wynne Prize finalist Art Gallery of New South Wales 17 July to 27 September 2015
Flood Creek approaching summer 2014, archival oil on polyester canvas.
Country and Western: Landscape re-imagined 1988-2013 @ Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville 24 July – 20 September 2015 and touring through 2015-16
Coming to S H Ervin Gallery, @ National Trust Observatory Hill, Sydney 30 October to 6 December 2015
Curated by Glenn Barkley, this major survey show entitled, ‘Here I give thanks’ will showcase John R Walker’s work in Canberra offering a fresh insight into John’s work and including some new and previously unexhibited canvasses.
Location: Drill Hall Gallery, Kingsley St, Acton (ANU) Canberra
If you’re coming to Canberra, here’s a great new app: The Canberra Guide
John R Walker and Andrew Sayers at the opening of Here I give thanks…
Save these July dates!
Exhibition: John R Walker: Here I give thanks…
Opening: Thursday 2 July @ 6pm, launched by Andrew Sayers AM
Event: Saturday 4 July @ 2pm, Discussion between Curator, Glenn Barkley and Artist, John R Walker
Location: Drill Hall Gallery, Kingsley St, Acton (ANU) Canberra
If you’re coming to Canberra, here’s a great new app: The Canberra Guide
National Portrait Gallery (NPG) – All that fall on until 26 July and free admission
National Gallery of Australia (NGA) – Story of Rama: Indian miniatures from the National Museum, New Delhi
Curated by Glenn Barkley, this major survey show entitled, ‘Here I give thanks’ will showcase John R Walker’s work in Canberra offering a fresh insight into John’s work and including some new and previously un-exhibited canvasses. If you would like to know more about this exhibition or would like to receive an invitation, please go to ‘Contact’ heading in the above menu list, click on drop down ‘Enquiries’ and send your information.Or contact Drill Hall Gallery or Utopia Art Sydney (details above).
But wait..there’s more…here’s a tempting little taste of what’s to come from The Curators Department.
For accommodation and other information: Visit Canberra
There’s lots to do and see in Canberra in July and early August: ballooning, truffle festival time and other great exhibitions, especially All that fall at the National Portrait Gallery (because Anne Sanders and Chris Chapman curated it!).
The Curators’ Department visits the studio
John R Walker @ Artbank
Currently leased to a major departmental client in Canberra.
John R Walker @ Parliament House, Canberra
Bouddi 1987, Parliament House Art Collection, purchased 1988. Currently on display.
Chroma: The Jim Cobb Gift @ Orange Regional Gallery
Currently on: includes a number of my major works including, Dry Dam 2004 (left). View the online catalogue.
Upcoming exhibitions 2014-2015
John R Walker: ‘I give thanks’ @ Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University 3 July – 10 August 2015
Country and Western: Landscape re-imagined 1988-2013 @ Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville 24 July – 20 September 2015 and touring.
Chroma: The Jim Cobb Gift @ Orange Regional Gallery 24 January to 29 March 2015: //www.org.nsw.gov.au/
Drawing Out: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial @ Art Gallery of New South Wales 21 November 2014 to 26 January 2015: //www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/dobell-australian-drawing-biennial/
John R Walker: Site @ Moree Plains Gallery 4 October to 14 Novmber 2014: //www.moreeplainsgallery.org.au/contact-us.html
Amaze Gallery @ State Library of New South Wales current: visit SLNSW Curio
Drawing Out: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennale
“I’m not sure that I really do anything else but draw.’’ Walker views painting as another form of drawing, rejecting the idea that his sketches are merely preliminary studies. He says he looks at the landscape intensively but draws from memory rather than direct observation. ‘‘ It’s a matter of accumulating enough material in mind until it somehow starts cooking of its own accord,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s only when the image tells me what it wants to do, that it takes off.’’ Quote from John McDonald’s article, “Hand and Heart” in Sat 15 November Sydney Morning Herald
The Australian 8 November 2014, images in the forthcoming Drawing Out: Dobell Australian Drawning Biennial @ AGSNW (see above). See Sharon Vergis’ article: “Drawing conclusions: the lost art”
Untitled 2010 gouache on paper The Darling River near Capon Shearing Shed 2013 gouache on paper
John R Walker installation, Drawing Out: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennale, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Friday 17 Oct 2014 @ 9.45am AEST: to the person from the Netherlands who just clocked as the 10,000th view and the 3,035th viewer! That’s 10,000 views in just over 12 months; averaging 233 views per month and just over 3 pages per viewer.
John R Walker: Site @ Moree Plains Gallery
4 October to 14 November 2014
“In 1985 one of the first works of art I selected for Canberra’s Parliament House Art Program was by John R Walker. The painting was called Bouddi and hung in the foyer on the first floor. Walker was in his twenties and had a studio on the premises that would become Utopia Art Sydney in 1988. I was greatly impressed by this young artist and his work”. Katrina Rumley, Director, Moree Plains Gallery 2014.
Walker Works @ Orange Base Hospital
Hollow Tree, Bundanon 2001 and Dry Dam 2004 on display at Orange Base Hospital. According to the curator, many patients and visitors remember these works from the Terroir: big land pictures exhibition at Orange Regional Gallery in March-April this year.Now here’s a thought while in Sydney CBD: Art Gallery of New South Wales and State Library of New South Wales are a pleasant and quick 5 min walk through the Domain from each other. Visit both to see John R Walker’s works and grab a coffee!
2014 Wynne Prize finalist @ Art Gallery of New South Wales
John R Walker’s painting Darling at Kalyanka is one of the finalist works in the forthcoming Wynne Prize for Landscape Painting. Go and have a look; its on until the end of September.
‘the end of all our exploring’ online catalogue
terroir big land pictures
a major survey exhibition of John R Walker’s large paintings online catalogue
Location: Orange Regional Gallery, Byng St, Orange NSW 2800 Phone:(02) 6393 8136
Exhibition dates: 15 March to 27 April 2014
The opening featured superb wines courtesy of Stephen and Rhonda Doyle of Bloodwood Wines
Accommodation and tourism: //www.visitorange.com.au/
terroir big land pictures is a major survey exhibition that focuses on a suite of very large works by John R Walker, painted over the past 15 years as a big narrative of land, space and time: “I have sought to create images that give an immersive sense of being in the landscape and Orange Regional Gallery offers this experience to be surrounded by these large works.“
“Terroir is an opportunity to pause and look around us at the major preoccupations of John Walker in his maturity as a painter. The exhibition is akin to talking with the artist as we walk together through his landscape. We share his very active way of seeing, his emotional responses to the truths concealed in the landscape.”
© Andrew Sayers 2013,
I have just found this poem by Marcelle Freiman on the //wonderbookofpoetry.org site:
Tallaganda Ridge – after John R. Walker, Tallaganda Ridge 2003From the green rift’s darkness, its un-trodden damp, comes a nudge of cold, ice-smell of solitude, stale water – as if from the crevice of a body in neglect – or hibernation: the land’s gradient pulls, olive-grey as dusk, its unfolding arm summons rays of cold light to the horizon – shadows disintegrate like broken leaves, brilliant light edges the hills with frost of ash like white ground glass: a paean for trees, their silvery bark, cool grey softness of their new-peeled limbs stretched towards the rain-draught from the night.
© Marcelle Freiman
November 2013 News
Landscape, Utopia Art Sydney 2 – 23 November. Opening this Saturday.New releases from the Doughboy series (scroll down to early September news) Scroll down to bottom of page for more details on the forthcoming survey at Orange Regional Gallery, March – April 2014.
Early October 2013
Have just returned from an 11 day road trip – more than 2,800 kms – to Wilcannia, via Orange, Cobar and the Mt Grenfell’s Aboriginal ochre drawings – staying with artist-friend, now Kalyanka Station manager, Jonathan Throsby. We returned via Mutawintji, Broken Hill, Menindee Lakes, Mildura and Naranderra. Spent 5 days at Kalyanka Station, which runs about 14,000 Dorper sheep on 125,000 hectares and runs along the magnificent Darling River. I particularly remember the Leopard wood trees west of Wilcannia. These are trees that when young look like a barbed-wire tangle, however, when the trunk has developed to more than 12 feet, the ‘barbed-wire’ defences against browsers are dispensed with. These trees are reminders of the megafauna that used to browse these ancient plains. The trees protected themselves against giant kangaroos that could reach to about 10 feet. Once the trees got higher than the browsers could reach, there was no longer any need for the defences. Despite the fact that these giant browsers have been extinct for about 40,000 years, the Leopard trees still remember…. you can never be too sure!!
There are a lot of ruins out this way. I am reminded of Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias’:
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear —
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’
Late September 2013
Attended the opening of Roy Jackson’s retrospective at The Drill Hall Gallery in Canberra. It is a wonderfully curated and comprehensive exhibition put together by Sioux Garside and under the superb direction of the gallery director, Terence Maloon. Great turn up from Sydney – collectors, artists and friends – in honour of Roy who died in July this year. His oldest friend, UK artist Mick Rooney read one of his favourite Basho poems. This one is my favourite Basho poem (from The records of a travel worn satchel) and for me sums up what it is to be an artist:In this mortal frame of mine which is made of a hundred bones and nine orifices there is something, and this something is called a wind-swept spirit for lack of a better name, for it is much like a thin drapery that is torn and swept away at the slightest stir of the wind. This something in me took to writing poetry years ago, merely to amuse itself at first, but finally making it its lifelong business. It must be admitted, however, that there were times when it sank into such dejection that it was almost ready to drop its pursuit, or again times when it was so puffed up with pride that it exulted in vain victories over the others. Indeed, ever since it began to write poetry, it has never found peace with itself, always wavering between doubts of one kind and another. At one time it wanted to gain security by entering the service of a court, and at another it wished to measure the depth of its ignorance by trying to be a scholar, but it was prevented from either because of its unquenchable love of poetry. The fact is, it knows no other art than the art of writing poetry, and therefore, it hangs on to it more or less blindly.
Early September Spring 2013
I’ve been walking around an area called Dough Boy about 25 kms from Braidwood – granite and sheep country – inspiration for my next body of work. The weather last week was gloriously unseasonal; warm to hot, gentle winds, crystal clear days. Here I am with my little gaz cooker and billy, brewing a cuppa.
Today, September 12, cycled to the Braidwood Stockyards, left the bike and climbed 2/3 of the way up Mt Gillamatong, the major landmark that frames the town of Braidwood. Another glorious morning, although a bit of an inversion layer meant that there was a slight haze in the air, and the wind was cool! Part way up the dirt road towards the paddock there is one of those wonderful ‘Budgie apartment blocks’ – my photo doesn’t give enough details but there are several breeding pairs of different kinds of birds nested in its generous boles and branches. Reminded me of the tree I painted while at Boyd’s Bundanon in 2001.