Stephanie McIntosh knows her subject like the back of her hand. It’s the land in which she was born and the land to which she has returned.
She grew up on a property just outside Glen Innes. She left to study art in Sydney and now she’s returned with her husband to farm a property from which she can see the very place on which she grew up as a child.
Farm the land, in a loose sense. Her husband farms the land conventionally, with sheep, cattle and crop.
But she farms the same land for memory and inspiration – and for the raw materials for her artistry.
Her technique is to use local substances as a source of dye. She takes leaves and plants and even rust from old machinery and processes it to use the colour.
When she has created dyed cloth, she cuts it and sews it into collages of that landscape which has been around her all her life.
Except for the time she went to study art in Sydney.
Before that, she was painting in a more conventional way, with acrylic paints, but the courses in Sydney showed her new, less conventional possibilities.
“It opened my eyes to a broader field of fine arts and of what art could be – not just paint on a canvas’” she said.
But she learnt her love of art in Glen Innes. She said she started painting at the age of five or thereabouts. At the age of 8, she won a big prize at the Glen Innes Show.
Throughout it all, as she developed she learnt much from a place called the Golden Wattle just off the Gwydir Highway on the western edge of town. It was run by an artistic couple as a gallery and a workshop for interested people, and Stephanie was one of them.
The Saturday morning art classes at the Golden Wattle were a joy.
This inspirational artistic haven is no more.
At one time, she had wanderlust but a marriage and family have brought her back to the land she knows utterly.
And now she’s won a scholarship for a “Young Regional Artist” given by the arts body, Create NSW.
She’s having a solo exhibition at the Glen Innes Gallery from this coming Saturday.
It’s called “Cloth Country”, a play on the way she makes art – by using cloth and the country around her for inspiration but also for the raw materials which she uses to make her dyes.
It’s a series of 64 pictures reflecting the land and the season and the time of day.
One of the most striking creatures is of the luminous night sky in New England – shining constellations of stars gleaming in the blackness.
The show runs from 4.30 (the opening) on Saturday until November 24.