Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Rumour, Gossip & Innuendo" by Eris Fleming

"O'Reilley's Pumpkin Picking Team" 51 x 62 cm Oil on Board

Eris Fleming was born at Inverell in 1943, the fifth son in a family of nine boys. He is of Irish-French extraction. His early years were spent on a farm outside Delungra in north western New South Wales. In this environment, rabbiting, horses, picking up dead wool, skinning snakes and shanghais were serious ways to get through the day. He attended a one teacher school at Boonda-near Myall Creak-where marbles during school hours and horse racing after school, were major preoccupations and a source of serious disputations. He attended Delungra public school for several years-where he learnt that he couldn't fight-but could add up and takeaway and spell a little. Departing the large, sometimes tumultuous family environment, he attended boarding school in Sydney before inadvertently wandering down the wrong track-studying medicine at Sydney University-graduating in 1966.
From his early kindergarten/plasticine/crayon days, Eris had a serious fascination with painting and drawing. Materials were almost unprocurable at that time in the bush."Art" at that time was considered a very poor career decision indeed. For a young man from his background art was considered by all authoritive figures to be a "no go" area. Notwithstanding, Eris continued to paint, despite the bold assertion that "artists are as poor as church mice." After graduation, he worked as a GP in both large and small country towns of N.S.W. and Victoria. He worked briefly for the N.S.W. Health Department before resigning in order to pursue more fully, the alleged lifestyle of a "church mouse."
Eris held his first major one-man exhibition in Brisbane in 1972. Since then he has enjoyed successful one-man and mixed exhibitions in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and other major centers in Australia.
In 1966, Eris married Judith-Ann McManamey. In 1975, they moved from Bathurst to a 200 acre farm at Bakers Swamp. The farm is at the base of the Catombal Range in the Wellington Valley, just 24 kilometres from Wellington. On the farm there are cattle, who are supposed to get fat and a small number of old, lazy horses who do get fat. Eris and Judith-Ann have three sons, who, having graduated from university, are now busy pursuing their own respective careers. Judith-Ann has been busy teaching music for the past twenty years. On the Bakers Swamp farm, Eris created and repaired, with the aid of several not particularly helpful friends, a gallery and then a studio. He also rebuilt parts of the old farm house, which dates back to the 1880's. At home, Eris is a studio-dweller working from sketchbook drawings and notes. The sketchbooks are filled during extensive excursions throughout the outback of Australia. The two main sources for his work are the sketchbooks and the memory of people, places and happenings. The focus of his paintings is often around the fringe dwellers of outback society and their eccentricities. His endeavour is to catch the spirit of these people and their landscape with all its idiosyncrasies. A strong undercurrent of dry humour finds its way into many of his works. Eris has a great interest in the history of the outback and the history of art itself. He reads extensively, especially biographies of the past greats, whether from Europe, America or Australia. He is drawn especially to the works of the Australian artists - Drysdale and Dobell, and the European artists, Chagall, Bonnard and Soutine. Eris works almost exclusively in oils, pallete knives being his most favoured tool. He prepares his own canvases and panels. He is represented in many collections both in Australia and overseas. He does not like labels but if pressed would call himself a colourist, painting things and places Australian.
Artist: Nationally renowned Eris Fleming
Exhibition opens: Friday 7 September 2012 at 6.00 pm
Exhibition runs: 7 September – 7 October

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