Barbie Kjar & Mary Tonkin – Finalists in the 2024 Rick Amor Drawing Award

Image: Barbie Kjar  The Reach  2023  charcoal and ink on paper  38 x 56 cm

Congratulations to Barbie Kjar and Mary Tonkin who have been selected as finalists in the 2024 Rick Amor Drawing Award.

“This prize gives people one more reason to keep drawing on paper – the most direct and intimate expression of an artist’s sensibility.” – Rick Amor, 2024

Image: Mary Tonkin  Between here and there, Kalorama  2023  pencil on paper  57 x 67cm
Photographer: Matthew Stanton

2024 Rick Amor Drawing Award
Exhibition of Finalists

30 March – 30 June 2024 
McClelland Gallery
390 McClelland Drive, Langwarrin

“Drawing has traditionally been used for preparatory sketches and studies ahead of finished paintings or sculptures. This award demonstrates the vibrancy of drawing practice as exciting media in its own right, full of invention and experimentation. Once again there was a terrific standard of drawing practice across a range of still life, abstract and conceptual. Of the 21 selected there is a strong diversity of approaches to drawing, from fluid, to controlled drawing practice, to disciplined and some freer suggestive ways of drawing,” Lisa Byrne, Director McClelland Gallery.

For further information and to view the full list of finalists, visit McClelland Gallery online

2023 Salon des Refusés at S.H. Ervin Gallery

Image above: Mary Tonkin  The shimmer of Spring’s mellowing, Kalorama  2022-23  oil on linen  183 x 248 cm. Photographed by Matthew Stanton.

Congratulations to Graeme Drendel, Paul S. Miller, Jennifer Keeler-Milne, Glenn Morgan, Rodney Pople, Jenny Rodgerson, and Mary Tonkin, whose works are included in the 2023 Salon des Refusés at S.H. Ervin Gallery.

The Salon des Refusés is the S.H. Ervin Gallery’s ‘alternative’ selection from works entered into the annual Archibald Prize for portraiture and Wynne Prize for landscape painting and figure sculpture. Initiated in 1992, this exhibition responds to the large number of works entered into the Archibald Prize, held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which were not selected for display in the official exhibition.

Each year, the panel is invited to go behind the scenes of the judging process for the Archibald and Wynne Prizes to select an exhibition from the many hundreds of works entered in both prizes but not chosen for the official award exhibition.

Congratulations to our represented artists who were included in this year’s Salon des Refusés for the following works:

Mary Tonkin – The shimmer of Spring’s mellowing, Kalorama

Graeme Drendel – Portrait of Hertha (Hertha Kluge-Pott, artist)

Paul S. Miller  –  Cut to the Bone (self-portrait)

Glenn Morgan – The talented photographer Mr Rod McNicol (photographer)

Rodney Pople – FF descending a staircase (Felicity Fenner, curator)

Jenny Rodgerson – Self Portrait – Stumble

Jennifer Keeler-Milne – Golden Beech


The Archibald Prize is one of Australia’s most well-known and respected awards which attracts hundreds of entries each year. The Salon des Refusés has similarly established an excellent reputation rivalling the selections in the ‘official’ exhibition, with works selected for quality, diversity, humour and experimentation, and which examine contemporary art practices, different approaches to portraiture and responses to the landscape.

2023 Salon des Refuses
National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery
Watson Road, Millers Point (The Rocks), Sydney
6 May – 23 July 2023

 Of her work The shimmer of Spring’s mellowing, Kalorama, (pictured at top) Mary Tonkin says: “Made in a tree fern gully, this painting began in the first glorious trumpet blast of Spring, when the ferns were plump, vertical and verdant. Then it rained, and rained and rained. The painting continued, between new creeks, and into high Summer as the ferns sagged and shrivelled. It felt as though I was painting with a new awareness of the frailty and brevity of life, the shimmer of its Being.”


Graeme Drendel  Portrait of Hertha (Hertha Kluge-Pott, artist)  oil on canvas  30 x 26 cm.

“Yesterday I had the pleasure of painting and talking with Hertha Kluge-Pott, brilliant printmaker and mentor to so many students over her long life.” – Graeme Drendel

Paul S. Miller  –  Cut to the Bone (self-portrait)  2023  dry brush watercolour and pencil on paper  102 x 132 cm.

Paul S. Millers unique visual language is utterly uncontrived and unobtrusive, his works are profoundly relatable and inspire a poignant emotional response.


Glenn Morgan  The talented photographer Mr Rod McNicol (photographer)  acrylic on board  59 x 121 cm.

Glenn Morgan’s sense of humour, integrity and masterful skill as a storyteller are always present in his works. The honesty and openness in his bright, bustling sculptures immediately engage the viewer and draw us in for a closer look.

Jenny Rodgerson  Self Portrait – Stumble  oil on linen  107 x 168 cm.

Jenny Rodgerson’s figurative paintings are powerful. They embody both a stillness and a potent sense of inhabited presence. In her distinctive self-portraits, the contrast between nuanced light and shade combines with a bold sense of colour to arrive at an arresting resolve that captures the essence, or what Wittgenstein would call, the “whatness” of the subject.

Jennifer Keeler-Milne  Golden Beech (Mt Wilson)  2023  oil on linen canvas  76 x 184 cm.

Golden Beech (Mt Wilson) is a painted response to the overwhelming beauty of the autumn foliage I witnessed last May when I spent a month as artist-in-residence in the Blue Mountains village of Mt Wilson. Beach trees lined many of the streets and captivated my imagination as they literally shone out!” – Jennifer Keeler-Milne

Rodney Pople  FF descending a staircase (Felicity Fenner, curator)  oil on linen  207 x 141 cm.

Rodney Pople is an interdisciplinary artist that works across various mediums such as painting, photography and sculpture. Pople  is a multi-award winning artist who received the 2016 Paddington Art Prize, the 2012 Glover Prize, 2014 Fishers Ghost Prize, 2009 NSW Parliament Art Prize and 2008 Sulman Prize. He was recently a finalist in the Gallipoli Art Prize, the Muswellbrook Art Prize and the Glover Prize in 2020, as well as the 65th Blake Prize and the Mosman Art Prize in 2018, and has been selected for the Archibald and Wynne Prize over 12 times since 2000.

Mary Tonkin – Podcast Interview

Mary Tonkin. Photograph by A. Standish.


Eminent Australian landscape painter Mary Tonkin has been interviewed for a new episode of the podcast Art W**k.

“No introduction needed for this week’s guest! The incredible artist Mary Tonkin who many of you would know from her huge painting on display at this year’s Sydney Contemporary.

We have been a big fan of Mary’s work for some time and plucked up the courage to ask her at Sydney Contemporary. She couldn’t have been more lovely and agreed to an interview. Recorded over zoom in between her en plein air painting practice.

Her paintings are as immersive and beautiful as the place she paints them in – her family property in rural Victoria.

Enjoy this episode and make notes, lots of great inspiration and tips.
Thanks Mary!”

Listen to this illuminating interview here.

Mary Tonkin Hot kiss, Kalorama 2021  oil on linen  180 x 180 cm. Photograph by Matthew Stanton

Mary Tonkin Ripples, Kalorama 2020  oil on linen  71 x 80 cm. Photograph by Matthew Stanton

Mary Tonkin  Ramble, Kalorama  2017-19  oil on linen  180 x 1890 cm. Photograph by Matthew Stanton

2022 Salon des Refusés – Selection announced

Congratulations to Graeme Drendel, Michelle Hiscock, Martin King, Glenn Morgan, Mary Tonkin and Christine Wrest-Smith who are included in the 2022 Salon des Refusés – the alternative Archibald and Wynne Prize Selection.

In 1992, as a response to the overwhelming number of entries to the Archibald and Wynne Prize’s that were not selected for display, S H Ervin Gallery initiated The Salon des Refusés.

Since its launch the alternative display has gained momentum on par with The Archibald Prize and is fast becoming one of the most anticipated art prizes in the Sydney scene.

The Salon des Refusés exhibition at the S.H. Ervin Gallery has established an excellent reputation that rivals the selections in the ‘official’ exhibition, with works selected for quality, diversity, humour and experimentation, and which examine contemporary art practices, different approaches to portraiture and responses to the landscape.

In 2022, 55 works have been selected for the ‘alternative’ exhibition, with 38 from the Archibald Prize 17 from the Wynne Prize by selectors Kon Gouriotiseditor Artist Profile magazine; Michael Hedger, director, Manly Art Gallery & Museum  & Jane Watters, director, S.H. Ervin Gallery. 

2022 Salon des Refusés

S H Ervin Gallery

May 14 – July 24

For more information and to see the complete list of selected artists click here.


Graeme Drendel  The Gardener- Portrait of Wendy (Wendy Horsburgh)  oil on canvas  26 x 31 cm 



Michelle Hiscock  The Critic in Lockdown (Christopher Allen, art critic) oil on canvas 50 x 40 cm 


Glenn Morgan  Stuart @ Australian Galleries (Stuart Purves, gallerist)  acrylic on board 98 x 74 cm 



Christine Wrest-Smith  Self Portrait black t-Shirt   oil on linen   91 x 71 cm 




Martin King  the moment between sleeping and waking, double cross in the cosmos watercolour, pastel and oilstick on drafting film and paper  120 x 258 cm 



Mary Tonkin  Hot kiss, Kalorama  oil on linen 183 x 213 cm


Mary Tonkin – Artist Feature

Image above: Ramble, Kalorama  (detail)  2017-19  oil on linen  180 x 1890 cm

Mary Tonkin has a unique ability of capturing the essence of the bushland that surrounds her. To stand before one of Tonkin’s majestic, large scale paintings is to be immersed in the gum thicketed forest; at once captivated by the grandeur of huge, ancient tree trunks and drawn in to the sensitive, lyrical gestures of delicate leaves and grasses. In this following Q&A Mary shares with us insight into her daily routine, her inspirations and her approach to painting.


How has life in lockdown been for you?

I’m finding a kind of slightly frustrated joy in these days with my treasures who bunk off home schooling in the afternoons and enjoy the bush with me. There are (as ever) never enough painting hours but it is a precious time of quiet togetherness.D251DFDC-7762-4629-AC7A-7C25850D7FA6

Do you have a favourite species of tree/plant?

We’re very fortunate to live amongst Mountain Ash, Eucalyptus regnans – the tallest flowering trees in the world. They are glorious witnesses to our lives. We’ve planted a Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ and Acer pentaphyllum outside our front door which give me great pleasure every day, but my favourite genera are Podophyllum and Galanthus, or perhaps Arisaema and Trillium (slight plant nerd). 

What are your current artistic inspirations?

I have been thinking so much about these two paintings: Matisse’s French Window at Collioure (c. 1914). This work was most likely made in the summer of 1914 as war broke out across Europe. It was not exhibited in Matisse’s lifetime. Also, Monet’s Water Lilies (1914-26). Monet returned to his waterlilies in 1914.french-window-at-collioure.jpg!Large666_1959_a-c_CCCR-Full_size_JPEG

What is your earliest painting memory and when did you first realise it was something you wanted to pursue?

As a very little child we had a jigsaw of the Van Gogh painting, Bedroom in Arles and I was captivated by the presence of the forms, the love that emanated from it. When I was ten, following the Ash Wednesday fires, I made little before and after paintings of the bush. It was perhaps the first indication that I would need painting to make sense of life. When we used oil paint in high school I almost immediately felt that I knew what to do with it – that I’d used it before. It wasn’t exactly a light bulb moment as I didn’t have a clear idea of what being a painter meant, but it was a profound sensual response to the medium that drew me to pursue its possibilities.

83DB367C-CC11-47C5-9455-9C2810483F26E618F220-009F-4DC3-8BB1-B0AC1793F6B779510991-C744-472B-877C-5CCA5BF59F3FC7A576DF-6F32-4C18-87D1-E0548E7EC2CBA few details of current work – paintings of longing and deep peace.


Your homemade sourdough bread is a hit amongst the AG team. What is your favourite thing to cook or bake?

I do love making bread, especially when it is gobbled so happily! I also love making Lemon Tart but I have to limit that a little as I do need to keep trying it, just to be sure it is good, then just to check, again, and perhaps again, just to be sure.

AG112602_Snap, KaloramaSnap, Kalorama  2019  oil on linen  64 x 64 cm. Available at Australian Galleries, Melbourne

Can you share with us a typical day? Do you have any hobbies?

On a typical weekday I’m in the bush painting – precious hours sandwiched between school drop off and pick up, book-ended by haphazard domestic duties. The weekends are lavished on the garden, family, friends and food gathering. I adore having my hands in the soil and building a garden, it nourishes me and is as important to me as my work, an uncomplicated source of delight.


Do you work on paintings one at a time or do you have multiple works in progress? What approach works best for you and why?

I tend to work on one painting at a time, working across the days and in varying light. Over time the painting starts to dictate what it needs and what light it needs. (More rarely I might make quick works that deal with a particular light at a particular time.)

I want each image to have its own logic and meaning – those are often subconscious or instinctive things that emerge during the process of painting, they need their own space and time. Essentially I’m pretty obsessive and like to wrestle with something until it comes together or defeats me. That being said, I have several paintings in the studio that I’ve left off and need to return to – things that need ditching or revisiting.546B38B7-9980-4B49-B0E1-F132401DA611DFAB33C4-0D11-4D7B-8795-BD8C4B507F76

Your recent post to Instagram of a new painting in a green palette sparked a lot of comments. In your interview with Richard Morecroft he mentioned your varying and evolving colour palette which you explained is often instinctive. How do you respond to such an overwhelming response to this new painting?

Richard Morecroft seemed to think that my paintings have a recognisable palette. I don’t see that, but I suspect it is like not hearing the intonation in one’s accent. The colours I use come out of a response to being present in a particular place at a particular time. I’m trying to use the language of colour to convey the sensations that arise, the whole sensual envelope of what it is to be present to those forms. I don’t often use local or naturalistic colour as I find it difficult to convey my experience of the forms in space, let alone everything else with such limited means. I suspect that the positive response to that image has more to do with an overwhelming tendency in our culture to read images very literally: it is green and must therefore be true to what I’m seeing. We’re so used to equating the surface skin of things with the things themselves that we forget they have an internal life of their own, that poetic meaning might be made by our subjective, somatic experience of them. For me, some recent greener paintings have come out of a need to make quiet, grounded images with cool air and sparkling light amid the chaos.591231AD-A3EB-4635-80A0-06443EFE9C57

Interview with Richard Morecroft

To view this latest video interview with Mary Tonkin by Richard Morecroft on her recent exhibition Ramble at Whitehorse Artspace, click here.

Mary Tonkin 'Ramble, Kalorama' (detail) 2017-19, oil on linen, 180 x 1890 cm (2)Mary Tonkin 'Ramble, Kalorama' (detail) 2017-19, oil on linen, 180 x 1890 cm (4)Images above: Ramble, Kalorama  (details)  2017-19  oil on linen  180 x 1890 cm

‘Ramble, Kalorama’ Artist Statement

Ramble, Kalorama 2017-19 is the culmination of more than ten years of drawing and painting around the problem of how to make a work that conveys the immersive and somewhat episodic experience of being in the bush. Even if I’m standing in one spot to draw or paint I move about, my point of view, relationship to forms, light and seasons all change. The previously seen impinges on the present and all the internal stuff I bring to it is in flux. I ramble about and try to make sense of it all, in a kind of ecstatic reverie.

This work of 21 panels, each 180 x 90 cm, was all painted en plein air in an area of about 8 x 10 sq m, much of it a kind of log corral of long fallen trees. It is just a little way into the bush from a spring-fed dam on my family’s rare bulb farm; where I grew up and where I have my studio. This painting is not a continuous panorama, but rather it loops through the space, doubling back and repeating forms, overlapping various points of view, ending with what is in reality the entry to this little haven, a kind of somersault of tree ferns.

I love this bush. I love its particular chaos and mouldering smell, I love its intimacy – how it envelops and embraces, and its grandeur – the sense of a tree time-scale and natural rhythms beyond human ken. I love that sometimes it sparkles and dances, at other times is quiet and almost withdrawn. I’m not sure where or what I’d be without its sustaining presence. We all need these natural wellsprings.’ – Mary Tonkin, 2019

Mary-Tonkin-Ramble-Kalorama-2017-19-oil-on-linen-180-x-1890-cmRamble, Kalorama  2017-19  oil on linen  180 x 1890 cm

‘Ramble, Kalorama’ at Burrinja Gallery

We are pleased to announce that Ramble, Kalorama will be exhibited at Burrinja Cultural Centre in Upwey, Victoria, from 4 August – 27 September 2020 in conjunction with Rona Green.