Walking like Smoke with Gail Batchelor

Since 2 January 2018, Fo Guang Shan (FGS) South Island has attracted a large crowd of visitors to the ¡®Walk like Smoke¡¯ Oil Painting Exhibition by local artist Gail Batchelor held at the Fo Guang Yuan (FGY) Art Gallery. On the first day of the exhibition, one of the representative paintings, the ¡®Styx Optics¡¯, was snatched up by an earnest collector. On 6 January 2018, Gail personally came over to FGY Art Gallery and conducted a briefing session for 13 BLIA members, sharing with the class her techniques and her sources of inspiration.

Gail explained to the class the context of each painting while the members raised questions on the affinities leading to her creations and the time taken to complete her works. Gail told the group that she has been keeping herself in meditative mood while walking in the wild of a conservation park to be in the warm embrace of nature. This time around, the theme of her paintings was based on the natural sceneries of the wild and it took her one full year to complete her artworks. By going through the changing of the seasons, she was also able to feel the changes in her life. Spring represents an exciting new beginning, bursting with life. Summer is green and the time to enjoy the warmth of sunshine. Autumn is the time of falling leaves and brought some degree of sadness, making one long for the embrace of Mother Earth. Winter¡¯s extreme coldness is an opposing contrast to other times of the year, reminding one to always keep one¡¯s warmness and be prepared for adversities. The changing of the seasons was indeed a source of inspiration to her.

The fluidity of the Chinese and Japanese calligraphy has a profound influence on Gail and she tried to combine the Chinese style of painting using Western oil paints on many of her works. As for the 8 pieces of artworks on display in the corridor, those represents her earlier works produced by choosing of flowers and trees in natural environment, rock formations, human portrait and old discarded bicycle to be cut out. These broken pieces were then re-assembled together to form new art pieces. The imaginative power and the unconventional ways of Gail simply could not cease to amaze the class.

Afterwards, Gail was guided by FGY Art Gallery Coordinator Vicky Han for a tour of ¡®Wood-Firing Ceramics¡¯ World Tour Exhibition by Artist Huang Da An. She was introduced to the unique 21-day wood- firing method of production invented by Huang. Gail praised Da An¡¯s meticulous choice of fire wood and the unique method used to produce the perfect and beautifully coloured ceramics. She remarked that whenever she visits FGY Art Gallery, she is taken in by the serene ambience and is reluctant to leave.

Gail Batchelor¡¯s ¡®Walking like Smoke¡¯ Exhibition at the FGY Art Gallery spans from 2 January to 4 March 2018. On display are 12 pieces of oil painting and 8 pieces of self-created art works, all exhibiting the harmony between Gail¡¯s simple life style with nature. It is hoped that these art pieces will bring about an air of peacefulness to the public.