26 Sep 14 - 2 Nov 14, All Day
Location: Roma on Bungil Gallery
Susan McConnel has a genuine passion for the Australian rural way of life. She has worked and lived on cattle and sheep properties all her life both in Western Australia and Queensland. She has surrounded herself with bush characters that have shared their narratives and has read fascinating stories and letters of the early settlers. These stories invoke in her a desire to share this rich Australian history by painting colourful quirky unique images.
Raised on a wheat and sheep farm near Wagin in Western Australia, Susan (nee Underdown) spent her youth working with horses on sheep stations, riding with hounds, playing polo cross and competing in agricultural show horse riding events.
Susan always showed a propensity to draw and paint. While she should have been listening to her teachers’ lessons, she was doodling in her exercise books and as a teenager she had a studio set up in her bedroom.
However, the pressures of study, work and family commitments saw painting take a back seat for thirty years.
When Susan began painting in 2006 it seemed natural to choose as subject matter what was going on around her. She painted the pain of her husband’s distress during the drought as well as the highlights and dubious delights of her adolescent teenage daughter’s life.
Impressed with Susan’s ability to “read” people’s moods she secured many commissions and gained prizes in regional and suburban art shows for her portraiture. In 2008 a friend, motivated by Susan’s new found love of painting and enthusiasm suggested they have a joint exhibition along with seven other emerging artists. They called their group 9 Ante Portas (At the Gates) and dedicated their efforts to Diabetes Australia.
For her inaugural exhibition, Susan’s inspiration for her paintings came from acknowledging the uniqueness of her historical surroundings and the many stories that she has heard from her husband’s McConnel family history. This exhibition proved to be an outstanding success with over 300 guests attending opening night. Eight out of Susan’s eleven paintings sold plus she secured four commissions and received numerous accolades.
The paintings of her horses and cattle in her 9 Ante Portas exhibition draw much acclaim. With that in mind and trying to find a direction for her art Susan has drawn from her past passions and started on a new series depicting the relationship between man and beast within the Australian landscape.
“It seemed natural for me to start painting horses and the capers they get up to since I spent so much time as a youngster reading their moods and body language.”
As well as securing exhibitions in rural Queensland, Susan continues to exhibit with 9 Ante Portas and they have raised substantial amounts for their chosen charities. The first Saturday of the Brisbane Ekka is marked on many city and rural calendars as the opening night cocktail party of the 9 Ante Portas Art Show – a highlight of the show season.