The Drill Hall Studio will showcase the work of one of Townsville’s well-known professional artists in its latest exhibition, when Peter Lawson’s Spring Palette launches this Friday night.
The exhibition, featuring vibrant landscapes and impressionist still life works, is an ode to the city Peter has called home for most of his life.
“I guess I’ve always enjoyed painting Townsville because I’ve always enjoyed living here, simple as that,” Peter said.
“I particularly love living in the best suburb, Maggie, and have painted around the island, around the city, and around the creeks and rivers for so many years now but just never get sick of it.”
Peter’s foray into professional art began in his 20s, collaborating with his father.
“My father started writing an historical script on Townsville when I was about 19 years old and he asked if I’d like to illustrate the book with paintings of early Townsville. I went to JCU’s archives and Mitchell Library in Sydney, gathered the material I wanted and did these old street scenes.
“We put that book together – it was called Townsville: An Early History – and sold a lot of copies. That helped launch my career.
“I was also fortunate enough to be born the great nephew of Australian poet Henry Lawson, so I’d begun illustrating his poems and short stories and had come up with a couple of pictures before Southern publishers got in touch with me saying they were interested in them.
“Initially they were interested because we were related, but then I was painting well even for a 20 year old so they found my illustrations of Henry’s work quite acceptable and produced three books. I was taken on a national tour with them, sold lots and lots of copies, and was able to relax for a year or so on their royalties so I could turn my attention away from illustrating other people’s work and take on what I thought was inside me as far as fine art. That focus for me was really on the Australian bush and the great outback, and the characters and all the other things we’re all in love with about those places.”
Peter’s professional career began the same way most do: with love and a dream.
“I met a much younger woman and she had a desire to drive around Australia and I wanted to paint my way around the country so we married, acquired a bus, took the seats out of it to make a house and took off.
“10 years later though, we’d worn out the bus and the marriage and me, so I came home to Maggie. From then on I’ve been painting, entering competitions and having exhibitions like this one at the Drill Hall Studio which I’ve called Spring Palette – because at this time of year everything seems to be in flower so I thought I’d reflect that in this exhibition.”
While each piece in the exhibition wasn’t overly time-consuming, adding the finishing touches and transforming it from a collection to an exhibition has been a full-time project.
“This exhibition is only about 18 pieces but because I have done all my own framing, presentation, and PR in conjunction with Sue at the Drill Hall, it has been non-stop for a couple of months now.
“These days I’m regarded as an impressionist by ‘the academy’; so paintings don’t take me long. You’ll see that when looking at them, I’m not taking down any of these things’ details; merely their colour.
“The actual execution of the paintings doesn’t take all that long but a lot is involved in framing, simply because that is the stage I hang the painting on.”
Catch the opening of Peter Lawson’s Spring Palette exhibition at the Drill Hall Studio this Friday night from 6pm. The exhibition will run until 23 December and then reopen after Christmas from 14-24 January.