Local Mullumbimby-based artist Robyn Sweaney wins the Allan Gamble Memorial prize for her work, The Promise.
Sometimes an artist finds a perfect title for an artwork, and in the case of this particular painting, Mullumbimby-based artist Robyn Sweaney, in our opinion, got it absolutely right. The ‘promise’ is there in the very slight rose tint in the grey sky – the sun will shine again; it’s there in the pefectly manicured topiary heart – even perhaps in the idea that the carved menagerie might one day escape from behind the wrought-iron fence. A few weeks ago the work won the Allan Gamble Memorial Prize, which is a component part of the prestigous Mosman Art Prize. “I was honoured and excited to win the Allan Gamble Memorial prize,” says Sweaney. “The prize, which is part of the Mosman Art Prize, is awarded for a painting with a theme of the built environment, in honour of the artist, architect and councillor Allan Gamble, who initiated the prize almost 70 years ago.”
Sweaney is well-known for her paintings of houses and streetscapes that always subtly suggest more than their exterior. “Though outwardly many houses are generic, I’m intrigued by the way people express themselves so creatively and resourcefully within the boundaries of their
own environments,” she says.
Her houses, usually from her local area, are also a quiet reflection – and a permanent record – of a fast disappearing architecture: the gentle suburbia of the 50’s and 60’s.
But although most of her houses are local, The Promise was inspired by a house in Melbourne. “I saw the house and garden many years ago set amongst the sprawling outer suburb of Sunshine West in Melbourne,” Sweaney says. “To create the composition I played about with the placements of the topiary and left out many of the actual ornaments – including many carefully placed garden gnomes! The day was grey and drizzly, which is not uncommon for that part of Australia, and gave a soft gentle atmosphere to the garden. You’d have to say that this particular garden rather surpasses our expectations of what is usually planted in an Australian front garden, but I saw it as a love poem, the creator’s Opus con Amore.”
Homes, Sweaney says, can be thought of as safe havens from the world outside. “They’re the places where we have the freedom to dream and explore our creative selves,” she says. “How we create these spaces reveals many aspects of our inner lives and the times we live in.”
You can see more of Robyn Sweaney’s work here: robynsweaney.com
The promise 2016
acrylic on linen
84 X 104cm Mosman Art Prize. “I was honoured and excited to win