Andrew O'Brien

I have a confession to make... I don't own a TV (shocking I know) so I missed the hoopla surrounding contemporary artist Andrew O'Brien's work when it first appeared on The Block. Luckily for me his new exhibition opened this week at White Canvas Gallery + the lovely team there were kind enough to allow me a bit of a sneak peek.

'At Corsair Time and Australia were wrecked' Corsair Rock, 900 x 1200, oil on board. Andrew O'Brien. Image: White Canvas Gallery

'At Corsair Time and Australia were wrecked' Corsair Rock, 900 x 1200, oil on board. Andrew O'Brien. Image: White Canvas Gallery

'A place that land and sea come into daily conflict, so The Rip takes its toll' Cheviot - The Rip, 900 x 900, oil on board. Andrew O'Brien. Image: White Canvas Gallery

'A place that land and sea come into daily conflict, so The Rip takes its toll' Cheviot - The Rip, 900 x 900, oil on board. Andrew O'Brien. Image: White Canvas Gallery

'From the threats of the sea, rescue' Andromeda Pleads, 900 x 1200, oil on board. Andrew O'Brien. Image: White Canvas Gallery

'From the threats of the sea, rescue' Andromeda Pleads, 900 x 1200, oil on board. Andrew O'Brien. Image: White Canvas Gallery

'Bound by the shallows, watched from the cliff, hope straddled the gate to the old world' Eliza Ramsden - Breach, 900 x 1200, oil on board. Andrew O'Brien. Image: White Canvas Gallery

'Bound by the shallows, watched from the cliff, hope straddled the gate to the old world' Eliza Ramsden - Breach, 900 x 1200, oil on board. Andrew O'Brien. Image: White Canvas Gallery

Andrew's work is driven by a colourful + textural interpretation of landscapes. This latest exhibition, The Cheviot Series, represents the culmination of his three year exploration of the area in + around the Quarantine Station at the Heads of Port Phillip Bay.

The collected works convey a strong sense of the duality of the natural landscapes. 'The area is an unusual + evocative place. The landscape is shaped by contrasting natural forces; the tempest from the Great Southern Oceans + calm tranquility of the sheltered bay,' explains Andrew.

The work also taps into the significant cultural memory of the area. 'For seafarers + migrants coming to Australia, Bass Straight + the Southern Coast line was treacherous, formidable + to be dreaded. The Heads of Port Phillip marked the end of the voyage, but it was the point of most danger,' says Andrew. The location is a traditional Aboriginal birthing ground, the drowning place of an Australian Prime Minister + final resting place to hundreds of shipwrecks. All of these highs + lows are reflected in the paintings + help to achieve Andrew's goal for the exhibition, 'if the viewer engages emotionally then for a brief moment, I hope to remove them from the outside world.'

The exhibition runs from 5-25 August 2013 with the official opening taking place from 5pm this Thursday 8 August. Check out the White Canvas Gallery website for details.