Roughing It At Ruby Gap and Beyond Exhibition Opens this Saturday September 28

On-the-way-to-Annies-Gap-001 © Carole Osmotherly 2013
On-the-way-to-Annies-Gap-001© Carole Osmotherly 2013

Roughing it at Ruby Gap and Beyond

While most women of their age and station in life might be busily scrutinizing the size of the bed and bathroom facilities on European Cruise brochures two Belconnen artists, Carolyn Fitzpatrick and Carole Osmotherly,  chose a travel experience that had them nervously wondering how on earth they would manage 8 days and nights with no room, no bathroom, hair washing facilities, mirror, running water, mobile phone or internet…indeed very few creature comforts at all. Washing would be in an icy, grassy, rock pool after a long walk to find it. As neither of these women have been campers or even        bush walkers the idea of this privation drew some degree of surprise and amusement among their families and circle of        friends. But art making in the Northern Territory was the priority so they braved an artist camp adventure organised by        Northern Territory artist Deborah Clarke and her partner Charlie, a retired Botanist.

In early spring 2012 the group of 10 left Alice Springs and made camp at Ruby Gap, a remote un-serviced  area some 150 kms into the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges. The artists slept in swags and under the stars. They lived rough. They spent        their days exploring  and making art. The Ruby Gap campsite was visually spectacular, sited beside and within the wide dry sandy river bed of the River Love. A glowing ridge of red ochre cliffs towered over the river as it meandered through the landscape. The river was lined with majestic river gums and studded with huge white rocks. The experience of living and making art in the landscape proved to be enormously rewarding and pleasurable and the privations surprisingly liberating.

triompwela00rre © Carolyn Fitzpatrick 2013
triompwela00rre © Carolyn Fitzpatrick 2013

In fact this year Carolyn joined a second camp to Mpwelarre, south of Alice Springs. This was a completely different environment, however, like Ruby Gap, it was nestled between magnificent red/orange ochre ridges. The land was sparse with drifts of pink sand and dotted with spinifex grasses and desert oaks.

The focal point for each artist was the quintessential Northern Territory colour. The red ochre ridge that glowed golden, orange through red depending on aspect or time of day, features in many of their works. The second focal point was the trees; gleaming white river gums, burnt scarred gums, and scraggy trees of the many native varieties capable of enduring such a harsh environment.

Carolyn has used coloured inks, and sometimes gouache, on thick watercolour paper. Most of her works were commenced in situ, where she aimed to imbue them with her intense sense of being in that very particular place. The drawings were then completed back in the studio. The woodcut prints were inspired by seeing patterns on the Simpson Desert on the return flight from Alice Springs.

Carole’s paintings on silk were created in her space in Canberra pulling from her memories and feelings as well as her drawn and photographed records made while on the camp. The nature of painting on silk, wherein she can etch black linear elements onto the broader colour landscape references allows Carole to ingeniously capture the random, rugged aspects of the Australian landscape.

Roughing It at Ruby Gap and Beyond  – Carolyn Fitzpatrick and Carole Osmotherly

 27 September to 13 October 2013

Strathnairn Arts Gallery – 90 Stockdill Drive, Holt

Opening 4pm Saturday 28 September

by Anita McIntyre, President of Strathnairn Arts

All welcome

For more information please visit



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