by Carol Roberts …
A few years ago I began interviewing the earth-pastel artist Greg Hansell. My research led to me running several historical tours based on Hansell’s artistic representation of heritage sites in the Hawkesbury and close environs.
Hansell says his attraction to painting farm implements, tools and industrial technology is ‘hard-wired’ from his early connections to farming and mining. Born in Goulburn in 1949, Greg studied art at St George Technical College in the late 1970s. An award-winning artist, he is currently Fellow, Council member, teacher and Art School Director at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. He crushes rocks and clays to make his own pigments and, with no added binders, creates earth pastels with colour permanence of the highest rating.
In my research, I also investigated how the artist’s exhibitions and the associated guided tours set up links between art and history. Hansell’s specific methods of recording what he sees means his art can be an important primary source for finding out about the past. His paintings strive to find the nexus between historic sites and perceptions of place. They also prompt the viewer to consider the tenuous grip we have on our tangible heritage.
Hansell and I are now collaborating on a book, which will showcase Greg’s depictions of the Hawkesbury area. My role is to research and write about the heritage sites featured in the paintings. And I will be opening his new exhibition, Dust, rust and shadows, which will launch the 2016 program of the Historic Houses Association of Australia.
The opening will be on Sunday 21 February in the Annie Wyatt Room, National Trust Centre, Observatory Hill, Sydney at 2.00pm. Members $20 Guests $25.
[Image, part of Hansell’s Bathurst Street, Pitt Town]