New art exhibition at YAVA

Marina Strocchi (left) and Beth Williams. Picture: DONGYUN KWON

By Dongyun Kwon

Community members are encouraged to visit YAVA Gallery and Arts Hub Healesville to appreciate its latest exhibition Immersion: On Country.

Two artists, Marina Strocchi and Beth Williams, contributed their artworks to the exhibition.

Strocchi has lived in the Yarra Valley since April 2021 and said her artworks are a response to what she has seen around the Valley.

“I’m responding to a mixture of the agricultural impacts on the landscape and how the natural bush environment is nestled in around,” she said.

“I also like patterns of nature, the market gardens, the vineyards, the fences and the little bits and pieces that punctate areas of the landscape.”

The acrylic painter uses Belgium linen with the nature or environment theme for her artwork.

She said nature is a therapeutic good place to be.

“Nature’s a little bit overlooked in the city, so we are lucky that in this environment, we’re closer to different forms of nature whether it’s agriculture nature or bush nature,” she said.

“If art doesn’t give something from nature or humanity, I feel like it’s missing something.

“Somehow, anthropomorphise something that makes it relatable to humans, that’s what I do, in a way animate the landscape.”

The Valley in Mist is one of Strocchi’s main art pieces in the exhibition which includes the patterns of nature.

The artist said she likes Australian lights that are pretty bright compared to the northern hemisphere.

“I like the work with the bright so I convey the light by bleaching,” she said.

“I like to have organic lines, irregularities and pretty subdued colour.

“In the morning, in the Valley, it’s misty, so you get vagueness about stuff and when you look at the landscape, it’s softer.”

Another artist Williams mainly works on acrylic and canvas.

The artist said nature is a place where she can feel calm and grounded.

“I can’t survive without that, so, in my work, I tried to find the feeling of the energy and the power that I have when I’m in nature,” she said.

Williams’ art pieces are based on the response to a moment in time when the light has been in a specific way in real places.

Most of them include the sunset, sunrise light and the colour of the sky.

“I’ve been a human taxi and taking people everywhere,” Williams said.

“I took pictures when I found beautiful places and worked from the photographs.”

Height of Sky and Dance of Grass are the two main paintings that the artist drew in Coldstream.

“These both were painted in the same location and this is an amazing farm where you can see the lines of the rows of the farm coming forward,” Williams said.

“It’s funny because the old silo, the colonial structures and pine trees were crumbling but people were still farming.

“It’s a really amazing spot, so much happening there.”

She started work from the photographs since Covid happened.

“I’d prefer to be in the place and experience the place while I am painting but I am often forced to work from photographs,” the artist said.

“I didn’t start doing that until lockdown. During the lockdown, I was forced to find a different way of working.

“In fact, it’s been good because I’ve learnt to use oil and you can’t transport wet oil paintings very easily because it makes such a mess.”

Strocchi said she hopes that her works show the visitors the landscape in a different way.

“I hope they can see this area that I’ve been immersed in through my work in it but in another way, take them to a different level bringing them other insights and food for thought about landscape in this area,” she said.

Williams said she hopes the visitors feel the sense of peace, calm or intensity that she felt when she was deciding to paint that work.

“I feel like sometimes people aren’t really in nature as much as other people and they can really be drawn to experience it in a different way, maybe in a more sacred way,” she said.