Growing up in a typical suburban Australian home in the 1970’s, Brendan Kelly's first experience with paint was working with his father on the house. He recall's his Dad painting a green figure on the side of a box with paint oozing onto the ground. This moment would stay in the artist's mind for years and after some experimenting as a teenager, Kelly's creativity manifest through a variety of artistic pursuits. Training as a Graphic Reproducer with a large printing company inspired initial cartoon drawing and poster art and after relocating to Mullumbimby in the 1990’s with partner, artist Claire Yerbury, the peace and isolation of living in the raw native bush created a sense of nostalgia and a yearning for more.
After attending drawing classes in Northern NSW Kelly's mind opened to a heightened sense of awareness and led to an exclusive concentration on his art practice. With designs and cartooning published in various Australian magazines and newspapers, the subsequent development of Kelly's distinctive painting style reflects both his character and life experience. The artist images local subject including the vast parcel of land in Northern NSW on which he lives. And, through contemplation of life, his oeuvre includes reflection on Australian history, colonialism, Aboriginality from a white perspective, and iconic heroes and eccentricities as an Australian.
This exclusive selection of available artworks from the 2021 groundbreaking series, Wallumatta White Kid, are rich in narrative and reflect Kelly's deep connection with Sydney's Wallumatta/Ryde area where he grew up. Imaging the birth and final resting place of Bennelong, Kelly includes portrayal's of his lands, the convict worked orchards of the James Squire Brewery, (Sydney's first), which lay on the banks of the Parramatta River now in Sydney's Northern Suburb of Putney. Commenting on the treatment of First Nations Australians and Colonial attitudes, he also nods to Bennelong as an 18th Century curiosity. From a contemporary perspective, Kelly's familiarity with and subsequent reflections on the Wallumatta/Ryde area, again draw from his personal experience of landscape and the native environment.
A major work from this series is included in the Macquarie University Art Gallery Collection, and the artist has been invited by curator Rhonda Davis to respond as a contemporary painter from the area, to the forthcoming 2022 Macquarie University survey exhibition of the Northwood Group of artists, including Lloyd Rees, Roland Wakelin, George Feather Lawrence, John Santry, Douglas Dundas, Wilmotte Williams and Marie Santry.