Dorrigo’s Richard Rees had a personal art renaissance on his retirement in 2005. Prior to this he describes himself as “an occasional artist, a dabbler, with no qualification or training.” He does admit that art was the only subject he enjoyed at school, but his career “demanded use of my left brain. It is now good to put my right brain to work, exploring my creativity,” says Richard.” In fact, life for this re-invigorated artist has been busy. He has completed a Diploma of Arts in 2013 and an Advanced Diploma of Arts in 2015 at the Coffs Harbour Education Campus TAFE. “As part of the Advanced Diploma, I held a solo exhibition of my work ‘Journey towards Abstraction’ at a local Café in Dorrigo.” He has also had a solo exhibition of his portraiture work ‘Here’s Looking at You’ and has exhibited works in local group exhibitions in Dorrigo, Bellingen and Coffs Harbour.
Richard has lived in the Dorrigo region for more than 20 years. He and his wife first moved from Sydney to Hernani (about 45kms west of Dorrigo), where they had bought a beef cattle grazing property. They moved to Dorrigo on their retirement. The beauty of the area has definitely been an inspiration for Richard’s art practice over the past 10 years. “I am constantly aware of the natural environment. Driving up and down the Waterfall Way I can enjoy a changing landscape: the rainforest, sclerophyll eucalypt bushland and the interestingly built environment of roads, farming properties and residential areas, all of which inspire me to produce art,” says Richard. Richard also draws inspiration from the works of others. “I am in awe of the works of the ‘old Masters’ such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne and Van Gogh, but also some of the more contemporary ‘Masters’ such as Wassily Kandinsky, Lucien Freud, Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, Hans Heysen and more recently, David Hockney, Euan McLeod and Ben Quilty, to name but a very few who have influenced my work.”
Richard enjoys working with different mediums including painting, drawing and occasionally, sculpture and mixed media. In recent times his style has moved from “a realistic and impressionistic style to more abstract interpretations,” says Richard. His subject matter varies, from landscapes to portraiture and abstract images. “Currently, my preferred medium is oil paint on canvas or board but I have also worked with acrylic paint, watercolour paint and pastels.” Most of his spare time is consumed with his relatively newfound passion and he has collected a number of prizes at local public exhibitions. Richard is currently working on a body of work in an abstract style based on the local natural environment relating to rocks, waterfalls, climatic changes and colour associations.
Richard has been a member of the Arts Council of The Dorrigo since 2005. He is the current treasurer and has been instrumental, as a member of a sub-committee of the Arts Council, in establishing a “Pop-up” art gallery, “Gallery 2453” in Hickory Street, Dorrigo. Named after the post code of The Dorrigo Plateau, Gallery 2453 is a showcase for work by Plateau artists and artisans. He has also been involved in the organising and curating the ‘Creative Mountain Arts Exhibition’ held annually in the Dorrigo Public Hall over 10 days at Easter and the annual Fine Arts Exhibition held as part of the Dorrigo Agricultural Show. So it would appear that the Dorrigo region is benefiting from Richard’s left and right brains.
Richard is currently exhibiting at Gallery 2453 in Dorrigo. He also intends to enter work in the next Member’s Exhibition at the Nexus Gallery, Bellingen.