Benalla Art Gallery is hosting a retrospective exhibition of the work of artist Sam Staughton, who studied at the National Gallery Art School from 1965-1968 and travelled Britain and Europe before returning to live and paint at the cattle and sheep property ‘Wolbunya’ near Benalla.
Image: The Smokers’ Room 2008, Oil on canvas
After ‘Wolbunya’ was sold, Sam Staughton (1945-2009) painted full time in Melbourne, and his works were shown at a number of exhibitions in Melbourne, Benalla and Wangaratta.
“Study and contemplation from the tractor seat” was an image of Sam familiar to friends and family, according to Fiona Stephens, a friend of Staughton’s and guest curator of the exhibition.
“This strong sense of place and the connection people make with both their rural and urban landscapes … provided a continuous theme throughout Sam’s work,” Ms Stephens says in her introduction to the exhibition.
Staughton kept meticulous diaries and exhibition statements, allowing viewers to experience the creative journey. For his final painting The Smokers’ Room he meticulously outlined the lengthy time taken to paint the work, its structure and relevance.
“For those who knew Sam, you will find a vivid sense of place,” Ms Stephens says. “This exhibition is a celebration of an artist’s life and work, told through the memories of artist friends, family and Sam himself.”
“It’s a privilege to be hosting these works in Benalla, the environment that nurtured Sam Staughton’s inspiration and persistence,” said Jilian Mulally, Manager Arts, Communications and Events at Benalla Rural City Council.
“It would have been no small thing to have pursued his artistic endeavours while managing a 500-hectare property. The works are dominated by urban landscapes and industrial architecture, but in works like A Great Landmark and The Old Tree, you can certainly recognise the colour and scale of the local landscape, captured through a familiar eye,” she said.
Benalla Art Gallery will be hosting the retrospective until March 2. Operating hours are every day from 10am-5pm. For more information, visit www.benallaartgallery.com.