On the morning of Friday, July 8, talented local artist Harley Kewish conducted a free painting workshop for the young creative souls of Sale and the broader community at the Gippsland Art Gallery.

Figurative abstract painter Harley Kewish is one of the region’s most talented upcoming artists, with works featured in the CARE – Concerned Artists Resisting Extinction exhibition at East Gippsland Art Gallery in 2021.

Upcoming local artist Harley Kewish has put together a strong portfolio. Photo: Contributed

“As part of the artist-activist group CARE, (a group of local artists) did a multi-gallery exhibition across Gippsland,” Mr Kewish said.

“This included the Maffra Art Space, Briagolong Art Gallery, the Orbost Exhibition Centre, The Great Alpine Gallery and East Gippsland Art Gallery.

“It was through that which led into the solo exhibition at the East Gippsland Art Gallery in Bairnsdale.”

Harley Kewish conducting his painting workshop on Friday, July 8 at the Gippsland Art Gallery. Photo: Zoe Askew

Local artists Paul Jennings, Peter Cummings and Gavin Roberts worked alongside Mr Kewish to create a collaborative sculpture, featured in the East Gippsland Winter Festival’s F/LAMP exhibition last year.

Mr Kewish has accumulated many awards for his contemporary art, which explores identity and destruction of reality through painting, including several regional Victorian Youth Art Prizes in Wellington and East Gippsland. Last year, he won awards for his artwork in the 2021 VCE Studio Art curriculum and was shortlisted for RMIT’s SETAC art prize.

For the past three months, Mr Kewish has been working and teaching art to students at Tambo Upper Primary School, and says the workshop at the Gippsland Art Gallery is “a big step for a young career”.

Damien Irvine-Nagle puts the finishing touches on his piece. Photo: Zoe Askew

“I was nervous but excited,” he said.

“The past three months have definitely helped me get used to the idea of teaching other people about art.

“I hope to give an insight into my recent process of painting.

“That (process) is all about using memory as much of a tool as the paintbrush or paint itself, using memory as a way to abstract images.

“I feel a lot of people think of art as something far more grandiose than it really is.

“It can just be as simple as setting up for two hours after work or on the weekend, maybe having a painting at the end of it, maybe not, but having fun while doing it.

“I think being creative is very necessary to regulate and keep everyone’s lives intact.

“I personally find painting very therapeutic, and by sharing that, I am hoping that other people get that too.”

Erin Fahy attended Harley Kewish’s Painting Workshop. Photo: Zoe Askew

Mr Kewish shared his talents and knowledge, using acrylic paints to explore specific techniques and exercises to focus on memory, and create figurative abstract paintings from a photograph at the Gippsland Art Gallery’s Painting Workshop.

Those who attended the rare opportunity to learn from and be inspired by one of the best local artists Gippsland has to offer said it was a fun experience, in which they learnt new techniques and discovered unexplored insights into the painting process.

Kate Allen taking the brush to the canvas. Photo: Zoe Askew

“It was fun,” avid painter Kate Allen said.

“It was nice to learn new painting techniques to help me grow and develop my skills.”

Eden Levchenko said it was interesting to learn an artist’s process when they are in the studio and painting.

“It was really cool to use a real photo and then create something abstract using your memory of that image,” Eden added.

Eden Levchenko working during the painting workshop. Photo: Zoe Askew

A variety of participants attended Harley Kewish’s Painting Workshop, some having never participated in an art workshop and others regular attendees, but the thing that connected each participant was their growth in knowledge and overall enjoyment.