Opens 2pm Sunday 24 May at Gallery 1855, 2 Haines Road Tea Tree Gully SA
Exhibition dates: 27 May – 27 June 2015
Ian Willding has had many careers – chef, house painter and special needs teacher. However it is painting that truly excites him and is his lifelong passion. Ever since his childhood, Ian has turned to art to express thoughts and feelings on his Wiradjuri heritage and family, and recurring dreams he has experienced throughout his life.
Growing up in Forbes NSW, Ian was allowed to roam the countryside with friends, with his eyes taking in the vastness of the land and its ever-changing colours, which would later dramatically emerge in his art works. A weekly afternoon art class during high school years was where Ian’s great interest in art began, with the support of a dedicated teacher and the vibrant energy of a class made up of students from many cultural backgrounds.
After Ian finished school, art was put to the side when he moved to Sydney, gained his chef apprenticeship and stayed there working for over 20 years. He remained open to the art world in the 1970s and 1980s, constantly visiting galleries but he had a major realisation when he first came to Adelaide during the high summer in 1985.
‘I fell in love with Adelaide straight away. I sensed it was a city filled with art and I saw a lot of art during that time. I moved there in 1989 and slowly moved back into art.’
After joining the Redhouse Group in Marion, Ian started to intensely create art and held several exhibitions. A highlight for him was the Petroglyfs exhibition held at Tandanya, Australia’s oldest Aboriginal-owned and managed multi-arts centre.
‘The whole gallery was in darkness, waiting for the opening when these three women came down on silks and started mingling with the works and the crowd. It was spooky…I still get hairs on the back of my neck thinking about it.’
The clash of European and aboriginal culture is a key theme in Ian’s paintings, particularly the desecration of sacred sites and the introduction of foreign pathogens into indigenous tribes. Ian’s works also focus on the evolution and the future of the aboriginal race and how its people are starting to ‘revolt and push back’ against the destruction of their native culture across Australia.
Eclectic Avenue is a survey collection of Ian’s art produced since 2009, during his time at Adelaide’s Central Studios. Many of the works in this exhibition are also based on the colours and vivid imagery from poetry. Indian writer and painter Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is described by Ian as ‘a major and significant influence’.
Since 1996, Ian has exhibited works every year and has curated many exhibitions across Australia. He hopes visitors to Eclectic Avenue will gain an appreciation of the spirit of his aboriginal heritage over the course of his artistic journey and how crucial it is that this culture is not lost.
For more information about Ian Willding visit www.iankwillding.blogspot.com
All artworks featured in Eclectic Avenue are available to purchase. Please ask a Gallery 1855 attendant for assistance.