“IN MARCH 1977, THE NEWCASTLE ART GALLERY OFFICIALLY OPENED TO THE PUBLIC AS ONE OF THE FIRST PURPOSE BUILT, CONTEMPORARY, REGIONAL ART GALLERIES IN AUSTRALIA. ON THE 1ST OF SEPTEMBER THAT SAME YEAR, THE EXHIBITION GHOST WHO WALKS NEVER CAN DIE WAS HELD, A CELEBRATION OF POP ART INSPIRED BY THE LONG RUNNING PHANTOM COMICS. IN 2017, THE GALLERY'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GHOST WHO WALKS RETURNS TO NEWCASTLE AS THE PHANTOM SHOW, CURATED BY PETER KINGSTON AND DIETMAR LEDERWASCH.” NAG.ORG.AU/EXHIBITIONS/FUTURE/THE-PHANTOM-SHOW
Inspired by the ghost’s return, we caught up with Graham Wilson, Aleta Lederwasch, Lezlie Tilley, Michael Bell, John Morris, Peter Tilley and Dietmar Lederwasch ahead of the exhibition to find out and share with you a little bit about them.
Tell me a little about yourself, Aleta...
Aleta: I’ve always loved drawing and have always felt a deep connection to nature. These days I’m quite preoccupied with strengthening that connection. Art often helps me achieve this. I studied law, and apart from teaching a course in Environmental Law at Uni, have only used it to do voluntary work for the environmental defenders office. I then worked as a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, until giving birth. Given birth was the most transformational experience of my life and I’m experiencing motherhood as a most enriching and wonderful spiritual journey. I recently resigned from my research role, where I was working with community, government and industry to come up with visions of environmentally and socially sustainable futures. I would then illustrate these so that the visions could be shared with wider audiences. I published many works on the relationship between art, empathy creativity and sustainability. It was a fantastic and fulfilling environment and although it was a dream job it was not a hard decision to resign. I feel a responsibility to my two year old daughter Elke to do what I can in guiding and supporting her development into a person who feels connected with her world in a deep and meaningful way. And I cannot describe the joy I experience daily as I live life with her. We share an incredible bond. I will have to paint it one day. In her presence I feel constantly inspired to be a better person, to create art and to use my art as a way to inspire greater appreciation of the natural world. Our planet is so beautiful and wonderful and needs our protection more than ever.
When Dad asked me to do a painting of the Phantom for this show I read through comics but didn’t feel that inspired to be honest. I don’t like violence in any form so I wasn’t a fan of the “kapoooow” punches etc; I wasn’t sure how to approach it – at one stage I thought to do a Phantom in a tree contemplating life but then the idea of the Phantom’s mother came to me. I could see the Phantom in utero. I thought about all the generations of the Phantom and all the Mothers that nurtured them.
How long have you been an artist?
A: I have always been an Artist. To me, an Artist is someone who expresses themselves creatively, through the Arts, whether that be publically or in isolation. I believe we are all born this way, however, I feel that our society currently functions in a way that doesn’t acknowledge, value or supports this. I was very fortunate to be brought up in a home full of Art and by parents who nurtured this truth of our creative potential. They sent me to Ron Hartrees Art school in Newcastle at the age of 5. Whilst I enjoyed many years there, I would describe that environment as one which nurtured and inspired my creativity, rather than one of teaching. Ron provided incredible materials including oil paints to children and a wonderful space to create. When I was eleven Ron invited me to join the life drawing group and I’ve been focussed on figurative work ever since.
Can you describe your style?
A: Expressionism I suppose. I never formally studied art, apart from a short course in colour and light at the National Art School. It would have been an absolute dream to have spent years studying – Oh I still dream of that…maybe one day…but in saying that perhaps my lack of training enabled me to never think as I create – I’ve never had rules or ideas in my head as I create – in fact I often describe my process as a meditation. I just draw what I see. That’s it.
Have you got a special connection to the Phantom exhibition coming to Newcastle Art Gallery?
A: Do I ever! Dietmar is my father! And yes, I do know how lucky I am. I, along with my sister Gabrielle and brother Louis, enjoyed the most magical childhood. Imagine how fun it was for us at school saying our Dad was a comic, Beatles and Disney collector! He painted a mural of dinosaurs on our primary school canteen and came in to teach us how to draw cartoons. Still to this day, and forever will I light up with joy when speaking of my Dad and what he does. He is an artist through and through. I remember my Dad once saying “see those little sparrows? Look how happy they are jumping all around…and all they are eating are breadcrumbs” … well, I’m not sure if he actually said this or if I dreamt it but that’s the sort of thing he taught us. He, alongside my Mother, taught us very well that all you need is Love, that a meaningful life is one lived with passion and by following your Truth. Being part of this show with Dad is really quite special. To me it extends far beyond the walls of the gallery – I am walking a dream with him. Think about it – two Lederwasches hanging with Euan, Peter, Reg … Dad has always been a beautiful Artist, as the world can now see, but he has never put himself out there until now. Isn’t that great!
Who are your favourite Novocastrian artists?
A: Dietmar Lederwasch, Ron Hartree, and Sue Atkinson. All three of these people have hearts of gold and it shows through their work.
A: I’m in the process of publishing a collection of illustrations and accompanying poetry of Australian wildlife. This work will aim to inspire, educate and celebrate Australia’s unique and beautiful wildlife in need of protection. I’m also going to start painting – finally! After falling in love with pencils and lines I never felt a need for more but after Dad asked me to do a painting for the Phantom show I got a little taste of paint and boy did I love it. My painting for the show is not great – I had very limited resources and extremely limited time but it was fun and has inspired me to start painting! I’m very excited!
THE PHANTOM SHOW is at the NEWCASTLE ART GALLERY FROM JUNE 10 - AUGUST 20 2017.