Born in 1970, Australian contemporary artist Brendan Kelly was raised in Ryde during the 1970s and 1980s. He recalls a lively, carefree childhood along the banks of the Lane Cove River, his memory etched with the sights and sounds of a suburban paradise rich in history and the artistic home to the diverse Northwood Group of painters.
In 2022, invited to respond to the much anticipated UNCOVERED: Northwood, Lloyd Rees and Beyond exhibition, Kelly has retraced the stepsof Rees, Wakelin, Lawrence and the Santrys, deeply resonating with the same places and sites imaged by the group.
Found objects, photographic records, site-specific sketches and portraits interweave a rich narrative in Kelly's artworks, each ebbed with the tones and textures of history, where the past meets the present. Kelly's studio practice is no less immersive - the artist working with boundless physicality and passion across expansive ink sketches which capture the lifeblood and nuance of river and surrounds; while finely detailed paintings include delicate elements of collage and transcribed text. Each individual within the group is acknowledged by Kelly; he also nods to the diversity of style among these renowned mid-century Sydney artists.
That Kelly has lived and breathed the Northwood Group in his response is evident within the artworks themselves and also within his studio, which has been carefully recreated at Gallery Lane Cove. Complete with the myriad of sketches, historical records, transcripts, maps, photographic evidence and the mixed media tools of his oeuvre, Kelly's studio lays bare the fascinating, investigative practice upon which he bases his work.