Australian Impressionists in France

On 20th July 2013, sixteen La Trobe University - Art History Alumni members gathered at the National Gallery of Victoria (Australia), for a guided tour of the Australian Impressionists in France exhibition, followed by lunch at the ACMI Lounge Café and Bar.  It was lovely to catch with friends, both old and new.

It was wonderful to have Dr Joan Barclay-Lloyd and Professor Diane Kirkby join us for this event.  Joan, who spends most of her time overseas at the moment, was a lecturer in Art History when many of us were students at La Trobe and she remains connected to La Trobe University as an Honorary Research Associate.   Diane is well known to the Art History Alumni and is a staunch ally and supporter of our efforts to re-establish an Art History Department at La Trobe University.

Our guide for the exhibition was Dr Lee Emery, who completed her PhD at La Trobe University.  Lee’s background is in Art Education, mainly at Melbourne University, and she is an Honorary Life Member of the Australian Institute of Art Education.  Lee was also an artist and was able to bring the paintings to life as she guided us through the exhibition.  She conveyed the thirst for knowledge that Australian, French, American and artists from other countries, who were working in France at this time, had for learning new techniques from each other and experimenting with the effects of light.

She advised us that when she was an aspiring artist, her teacher advised her to ‘lighten the lights and darken the darks’ and she used this practical knowledge to explain the techniques used by some artists, such as John Peter Russell, to make their works shimmer with light and at times appear transparent through the way in which the paint was applied.  Lee was not only very knowledgeable in relation to the artists exhibited, for example knowing that Rupert Bunny also wrote ballet scores, she was energetic and enthusiastic in her passing on of that knowledge to our group.

This event certainly lived up to the high standard we have come to expect and we look forward to many more similarly successful events in the future.  The lunch was also a great opportunity to debrief the tour and the consensus was that it was yet another success.

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