Martin Edge

Martin's Adventures

April 17 - April 30 2021

Much of the imagery in Martin Edge's new body of work revisits urban landscapes he has previously painted. But each time Martin ventures forth from his Strathpine studio he says 'it's like seeing places for the very first time'. An unfailing positivity and sense of humour always accompanies Martin on his adventures. The omnipresent depiction of city cats and ferries signify the process of being ‘out and about'. Awareness of historical features and keen observational skills direct his course and subsequent renderings. Vibratory colours and schematic representations of sites encountered translate his joyful, immersive experiences.

Dappled in puffy little clouds, skies of yellow, deep orange and pink vault several of his cityscapes. Martin imparts that those colours suggest different moods or times of the day. Cloud contours have always fascinated him, as have water expanses and the bridges that span them. A number of works portray the Story Bridge that connects Brisbane's northern and southern suburbs. The longest cantilevered bridge in Australia, it ‘hosts' the spectacular firework displays that culminate the annual Brisbane Festival of the Arts.

Martin's painting titled Story Bridge is a fine example of his tendency to depict places and features not as they actually are, but as they once were. In this work the Story Bridge's now metres-high safety wall has been omitted and the foreground's chained fencing is no more.  The black markings on the footpath represent Martin's memories of seeing the strong shadows cast by the chain linkage on a sunny day.

Sydney is Martin's second favourite city. The active detailing and a multi-hued palette in the Pink Sydney work relay his excitement when adventuring there. He tells that pink is a happy colour for him. Alternating red and blue cars bead the distant Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Attention is drawn to a most unusual depiction of the Opera House. Martin explains that he has separated the sail formations so that they now assume a 'swaying' appearance. 'I am not a realist painter, but rather one who invests a scene with imaginative flourishes,' he declares.

The Circular Quay Sydney painting is an almost completely abstract work in its compositional values and minimalist rendering.  Six buildings stand upright behind the Quay which has been depicted from an aerial perspective. The slender, orange-hued Centrepoint Tower is in stark contrast to the bulky black and white edifices. The white-water trails issuing from the docking and departing ferries generate a visual linking with the white clouds.

Martin's adventuring has also led to works that interpret the architectural features of certain heritage-listed buildings in the Brisbane area. The 19th century St. Stephen's Cathedral and accompanying chapel have been painted a creamy colour that suggests age and stonework. Their triangular shapes and the spire-topped towers are at marked variance with the contemporary skyscrapers. A cloudless, blue firmament accents the composition's geometry.

Foreground horizontal stripes denoting footpath and road lead up to Martin's rendition of the architecturally ornate Old Museum in Bowen Hills. Unusually, its structure fills the canvas. A bright yellow sun beams down and tiny orange clouds ‘flutter' as if in tribute to the building's remarkable history. Originally erected as an exhibition venue, it subsequently became Brisbane's grandest concert hall during the late 1800s. Notably, Dame Nellie Melba gave recitals there. In 1900 the building opened as a museum and then in 1930, the Queensland Art Gallery was also ‘housed' there before both were relocated to the South Bank precinct in 1986.

Of course, Martin's pictorial documentation of his adventures wouldn't be complete without a work dedicated to his journeys down south to the Gold Coast. His painting titled Gold Coast Skyline, is depicted from an elevated perspective so as to encompass not only the stretch of sandy white beaches and the towering buildings that line it, but also the network of canals and mountain range beyond. He describes this vista as glowing with life, both man-made and natural.

Each work has taken many weeks to complete due to the intricate detailing and the multiple layers of acrylic paint that impart the rich depth to his colours. They resonate a sense of joie de vivre and optimism that elevates one's spirit. Martin's signature on the back of his paintings is always accompanied with a little drawing of a balloon and a cheery wish for 'all the best.'

Martin has achieved remarkable acclaim since first being represented by APA in 2011. He was selected to paint a large mural for the gallery café at the recent QAGOMA blockbuster exhibition: The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire 2020/2021. As a long-standing ambassador for Autism Queensland, when Brisbane hosted the 2019 INAS Global Games Martin's artwork was chosen to be projected onto the William Jolly Bridge's pylons each night for a week. His work appears in state and national institutional collections including: Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra; State Library of Queensland, Brisbane; Artbank Collection; Maitland Regional Art Gallery, NSW; Moreton Bay Regional Gallery, Queensland; St. James College Collection, Brisbane; Westmead Children's Hospital, Sydney; St. John of God Hospital, Perth; Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane; Gold Coast University Hospital; Ken Done Private Collection, Sydney; Bruce Heiser Private Collection, Brisbane; Randa Collection, Melbourne.

JACQUELINE HOUGHTON


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