3rd May 2015
I first became aware of Ann Howie’s painting at Roar Studios in 1982. Roar was an Artist run Collective located at the top end of Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. One occasion in particular that stands out was during work selection for one of the many group shows Roar held on a regular basis to raise money.
Members of the collective would bring in their work to line up around the gallery walls and a selection would be made for inclusion in upcoming exhibition.
I particularly remember Ann’s arrival at that meeting and her 12 -15 gestural works on paper which she preceded to spread out on the floor. These were small but powerful paintings in the Roar house “style” that really commanded attention.
In those early days the Roar style was pervasive but Ann moved away from this influence pretty quickly preferring instead to distil many historical sources as diverse as figurative expressionism and Bruegel. She took what she needed without being held captive by any particular style.
Ann gave an absorbing and instructive presentation on May 3 which included slides and actual canvases. We saw a range of work and influences from early Roar to the present day.
Ann’s influences include Goya’s realism in describing the politics of his time, Brueghel’s depiction of the everyday, Stanley Spence and the atmospheric moods found in Claris Beckett paintings.
Ann also spoke of the importance of exploring composition in painting through patchwork patterning, repetition and collage like division of the canvas. The eye is then encouraged to move both through these created spaces and laterally across the picture plane.
Her current themes include still life, costal landscape and non-literal images distilled from domestic and local sources.