Life Blooms in an Unlikely Place

'Life in Full Bloom' is a pop art exhibition by palette knife painter Kathy Petersen.

North Ward’s hospital-turned-luxury apartments have long been divisive among Townsville locals, with many who know the building’s history quick to cry: ‘No! It’s too creepy to live there.’

But a pop-up art exhibition by local painter Kathy Petersen is drawing people in droves to see the new fit-out and stunning views for themselves, if only as a by-product of taking in Kathy’s beautiful palette knife paintings.

Life in Full Bloom is Kathy’s first ever solo exhibition, which – by a stroke of luck or kismet – juxtaposes her richly textured, deeply vibrant pieces against the raw shell of an empty apartment space. The exposed timber and concrete floors, still covered in dust from standing, bring Kathy’s work to life as they breathe a warmth and intimacy into the disused space.

Kathy Petersen’s richly textured oil painting contrast beautifully against the raw apartment shell.

Kathy said she’d always wanted to establish her own gallery in an old warehouse, and when she mentioned it to a friend was offered the space at Fulton Gardens.

“It’s a diverse collection of everything that I paint and everything that I paint from my heart,” said Kathy of her exhibition. “I love the florals, love the cows, love the portraiture, especially in that loose style, so it’s really just a collection of what I love to paint.”

Initially Kathy had planned to exhibit only her collection of florals, but as she started to set up the exhibition she realised she’d need to draw on her back catalogue of pieces to fill the space.

“Initially, I was only going to showcase my florals, but the huge space gave me the opportunity to add in other art pieces from different collections,” Kathy said.

Cows are one of Kathy Petersen’s favourite things to paint.

“It’s been a good learning tool. If you’re going to have a pop-up exhibition you think, oh yeah it’s easy to set up, but actually it’s a lot to put an art exhibition in a space that’s not meant for an art exhibition. There’s the work of hanging everything on the wall, rather than going to an art gallery and you can just put it all up – or give them everything and they do it – and that’s why [galleries] really deserve their 40 per cent commission or whatever – it’s a lot to get it all together.”

In pride of place among the blooms and bovine, proudly stands one captivating portrait of a sweetly creased and weathered old soul.

“That’s my grandad, he’s 97,” Kathy said.  “I painted him two years ago and I was a Finalist in the Percivals. Since then I’ve painted a couple of portraits for people. If they have interesting faces, or interesting characters, I love that as well.”

Life in Full Bloom will be on display at Fulton Gardens, Gregory Street from 10am to 1pm each Sunday until 5 November 2017. Click here for more information.

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