Glen Innes artist Mike Gilbert's new show "Oils, Oils, Oils" opens on Saturday

ARTIST: Mike Gilbert shows his painting of Sorrento, Italy, his favourite work in the "Oils, Oils, Oils!" exhibition. Photo: Nicholas Fuller
ARTIST: Mike Gilbert shows his painting of Sorrento, Italy, his favourite work in the "Oils, Oils, Oils!" exhibition. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

Local artist Mike Gilbert hopes that his new exhibition – “Oils, Oils, Oils” – will give people a different way of seeing things.

“Perhaps people might see something in a different way they haven't seen before,” Mike said. “They might see something that they recognise and they like."

His paintings of Mexican ports, Balkan lakes, Canadian coasts, Italian towns, his hometown of Bristol, outback telegraph stations, and – closer to home – Waverley Shed and the station house glow in rich, vibrant colours.

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Cr Colin Price will officially open the exhibition at the Glen Innes Art Gallery at 4pm on Saturday. The show will run until July 6.

Mike’s favourite painting in the show is of the Italian town of Sorrento: a scene down an alley which he snapped going by on a bus.

Mike has been painting since 1958, and every day since 1983.

It takes him an hour or so to do a smaller work, while a bigger one might take three or four hours. 

The subjects that inspire him are man-made.

“Mostly architecture,” he said; “I like buildings and boats. I also like the contrast between constructed things and natural things, like trees. And I find birds quite interesting.”

Mike Gilbert in his studio. Photo: Steve Evans

Mike Gilbert in his studio. Photo: Steve Evans

Mike came to Australia from England in 1963. It was, he remembers, a bad winter, with frozen waterpipes in the street, and the Cuban missile crisis threatening nuclear holocaust.

“You felt very vulnerable,” he said, “and there weren’t a lot of prospects with employment. I couldn't get a job working in the arts.

“I was working on the wharves at the time, and one of my mates there said, 'Oh, I've been to Australia; I remember lying out on Bondi Beach and drinking rum in the sun!' I thought that sounds like a good life."

Mike has lived in Glen Innes since 2004. He and his wife wanted somewhere with a cool climate, halfway between his daughter in Newcastle and his son and wife's family in Brisbane.

"We came here and spent three consecutive holidays in the spring, summer, and winter so we could see what the climate was like,” Mike said.

“The people were so friendly that we really loved it, and we thought this is where we want to be!"

And the landscapes and buildings here inspire him. He's done quite a few paintings of the old railway station, Crofter's Cottage, and the standing stones.

“Oils, Oils, Oils!” opens at the Glen Innes Art Gallery, 71 Grey St, this Saturday at 4pm, and runs until July 6.