July 10th 2008
Tropical Talent "A hoot!"
Pablo Picasso once said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is to know how to remain an artist once he grows up". Visitors to the Tropical Talent exhibition by young Magnetic Island artists may be forgiven for hoping that these young artists refuse to grow up.
Amazingly, over 400 works are displayed on almost every surface at the historic Hayles House on Marine Parade facing Geoffrey Bay in Arcadia. The exhibition is the culmination of three years of art making by young people between the ages of 6 to 14 under the guidance of, Island artist, Vonnie Van Bemmel and will culminate in what Vonnie expects to be a, "huge award night this Saturday from 5pm to 8pm."
The group began with just six students from Magnetic Island State School. In the second year it grew to 12 and this year, according to Vonnie, "It just exploded with 37 students now participating".
Vonnie is particularly excited by the art continuing to be produced by former students with a number now in high school. "They are now making something themselves without my influence," she said.
The exhibition opened last Saturday and over the weekend over 300 visitors wandered through the show. Vonnie says, "Many were absolutely gob smacked. They didn't realise that kids had produced the work until they were told," she said.
The art is diverse with paintings predominating. However there is a fascinating direction occurring with some students producing sophisticated collages and mixed media art. Sculptures carved from Hebel aerated concrete as well as mixed media, pastels and watercolours are also included and one wall is covered in beautifully designed and painted "Lazy Susans".
Vonnie has found that many Island visitors are visiting the show and buying works as ideal mementos of their Island holiday.
The show is supported by a huge list of Island sponsors with acquisitive prizes for some works at $200. Ergon's Solar Cities Project on Magnetic is one and has made a particularly interesting and practical contribution - the entire exhibition's lighting has been equipped with energy saving lamps.
Vonnie seems intent on building an art group for the long term and one with a direction towards professional standards. "Part of the course is to produce an award night of their own and ten percent of the sales will fund future promotional expenses for the group such as a banner." said Vonnie who claims she wants to see her own role eventually disappear - being replaced by young artists from the group.
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