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Victorian Artists' Society Artfest23 9x5 Exhibition

The 9x5 Exhibition first started in 1889 with three artists, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Charles Condor, who painted on cigar box lids supplied by Louis Abrahams, a prominent tobacconist in Melbourne. The 9x5 Exhibition was originally held at the Buxton Rooms on Swanston Street starting on the 17th August 1889 and was the first major Impressionist Art Exhibition ever held in Australia. This exhibition marked an important milestone in Australian Art history.

The three artists were also closely associated with the Victorian Artists' Society and the 9x5 Exhibition 2023 held as a part of the Victorian Artists Society Artfest23 is the first time the 9x5 has been held at the VAS. Another important milestone!

The Cato Gallery and the Mackley Members Room now have over 200 beautiful 9x5 paintings on display, with subjects ranging from traditional landscapes, portraits and still life in a variety of media including acrylics, oils, watercolours, textiles, decoupage and much more.


 Whilst I have been making the shift from acrylic based mediums to oils, the three paintings that were selected, with thanks and gratitude, for the VAS 9x5 2023 Exhibition are acrylic mixed media, painted over one week. I mounted canvas onto the boards supplied by the Victorian Artists Society, which was a learning curve, having done this for the first time! The wood had to be triple sealed front back and sides, then the canvas mounted onto the boards and weighted for three days. I used extremely large chunks of prehistoric tree agate, which was a perfect build up towards immersion with the spirit of the Australian bush theme, which is both expansive and timeless. Then my signature style textured border was applied, making sure that the 9x5 dimensions were kept intact out of respect for the spirit of the exhibition. Then 5 layers of paint and another 3 layers of gloss varnish went on those micro borders and left to dry out completely for another 72 hours. The intiial composition was marked in and sealed, to ensure that the foundations kept their integrity.

All three panels in progress in my studio

So the actual painting part  on all three panels similtaneously, is what took a week - it had to be done this way for the works to hold stylistic integrity. Prior to this stage, it was about a month's work to prepare the canvas boards, during which time many hours were also poured into what to paint. I liked the idea of a subtle homage to Frederick McCubbin's The Pioneer, which is a tryptich I first saw as a child at the National Gallery of Victoria. I recall being utterly electrified when I first saw the Master work, as it very likely triggered my early childhood memories of crawling around in the Australian bush, where I felt safe and at one with my environment.

Herbed gluten free Australian damper baking in the oven (first image above). This helped evoke the spirit of bush life to more deeply immerse myself whilst painting!
As the first damper experiment was a real success, I made some more, using a slighty different recipe and posed it for the still life oil painting painted from life (second image above) yesterday!
Bush tomatoes and the iconic stair case location from the movie, Picnic At Hanging Rock from my photo archives


When the movie, Picnic at Hanging Rock debuted in Melbourne, my late grandmother took me to see it on a rare outing and again, I was entranced by the beauty of the bush. Many years later I went camping there for a week and painted about six oil paintings which were gifted to a family member.

Last year in response to an artist callout for the VAS exhibition, Regional Victorian Visions 2022, in which all entries were works on paper, I went on a field trip to Hanging Rock to take photos, as it is no longer possible to camp there.

The Meeting Place, (Hanging Rock, Mount Macedon) Acrylic on paper mounted on canvas. To find out more  cut and paste the following link into your browser: https://theartoflaughinannie.com/blogs/news/vas-regional-victorian-visions-exhibition-2022-may-12-30

It is from the photos taken on the April 2022 field trip that I selected the three images that finally made it onto the panels for this year's 9x5 Exhibition.

The first painting, Hanging Rock I is from the base of the rock,

the second, Hanging Rock II, about half way up the gaint monolith, looking down on the fields below

and the final one, Hanging Rock III is the view up a rocky staircase flood lit by the sun, the location of the iconic scene from Picnic at Hanging Rock which has been indelibly etched in my memory ever since as a place of immense raw beauty!

My work has been displayed in good company in the Mackley Members' Room at the Victorian Artists' Society, to the left of the entrance above a showcase containing memorabilia of important documents from the 1889 9x5 Exhibition, including a signed cigar box lid by Louis Abrahams!


This exhibiton is available for viewing online at the Victorian Artists' Society website and the physical exhibition is now open at the Victorian Artists' Society, 430 Albert Street, East Melbourne M-F10-4, S/S11-4 until 12th June 2023. The 9x5 Opening Event is on 3rd June 1-3pm.

UPDATE: All three works sold at the Exhibition



I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, past present and future as the original caretakers of the land where I collected my photos and where my studio stands and offer my respect, even moreso now, given the timing of this exhibition coincides with Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week: in the spirit of respect for our First Nations People.



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