Artist inspired by Mid Canty roots

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Ashburton-raised artist Hamish Coleman with works included in his On Returning exhibition.

A lingering bond and a nostalgic return to his Mid Canterbury roots have been the inspiration for artist Hamish Coleman’s first public gallery solo exhibition.

Fittingly called On Returning, the exhibition at Ashburton Art Gallery opens on Sunday and features captured, cropped still images of film made by the artist around the district on trips here over the last two years.

Equal parts portrait of the land and of the artists, the paintings are interjected with closeups of sentimental objects and people.

Iridescent oil paint, made by Hamish, changes the surface colour of his works and gives them an ethereal quality.

The exhibition features a mix of body size and head size works.

There was a certain thrill in capturing a split second image from film and spending weeks or months rendering it in paint, Hamish said.

Areas around Wakanui and Chertsey, where he had lived as a child, had been visited and filmed when he had returned home to visit his mother.

Most had been filmed in black and white and represented “ordinary” scenery that had been given importance through painting.

“It’s fitting that my first solo solo exhibition in a public gallery is in Ashburton.

“The gallery has a very good reputation and I’m excited to be showing here.”

Hamish is a former Wakanui and Borough School pupil and left Ashburton College in 2007 to study for a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Canterbury University.

Now 31, he enjoyed art classes with local artist Robin Arnst as a child and remembers the support of former Ashburton College art faculty head Claire Robertshaw.

“Robin was a huge influence on me as a kid.

“She taught me how to hold a brush, mix paints and how to look at things.”

On April 18 there will be an artist talk at the gallery at noon.

On Returning runs until May 16 and afterwards will move to Bartley & Company Art in Wellington, a city where Hamish Coleman now lives and works full time in the art sector.

-By Mick Jensen