Smibert Studio Gallery – Speech

May 21, 2019 Speeches

Ms RATTRAY (McIntyre) – Mr President, first I congratulate you on your election today as our President, a sincere thank you and congratulations. I also extend my congratulations and best wishes to the member for Nelson. I bet the waiting was pretty difficult, but now you know you are here and we are certainly here to support you. I also welcome back the member for Pembroke and the Leader, the member for Montgomery. I have a new seat partner, so she has a different view of the Chamber now.

Today I am going to talk about the Smibert Studio Gallery. Honourable members who attended the McIntyre electorate tour in the middle of February this year will recall our visit to the Smibert studio where we were not only wonderfully hosted by Tony Smibert and his wife, Carmel Burns, but were also treated to a very special experience on that morning in the studio located on the Mole Creek Road, just outside the Deloraine township. Tony is a painter, writer and educator whose exceptional work reflects eastern and western traditions. That was certainly evident as Tony shared an array of artwork and also shared with our group some of the finer points of his works.

Our introduction to the Tao Sublime acrylic canvas works in the outbuilding adjacent to the studio was indeed interesting. Tony told us about the process for these incredible works. He worked on a piece for hours on end until the piece was completed, at which time he was completely exhausted and, I expect, experienced a genuine sense of relief and artist satisfaction.

Tony Smibert trained at the National Gallery Art School in Victoria. He graduated from the Melbourne State College as a specialist art teacher and then taught for 10 years before making Tasmania home to paint full-time. Now more than three decades and more than 50 solo exhibitions later, Tony is an internationally renowned painter, teaching around the world. He is a visiting artist researcher at the Tate Britain Gallery, London, where he delivers master classes, as well as at other leading art museums. This internationally acclaimed artist is the author and co-author of numerous publications and is a leading expert in the painting techniques of JMW Turner.

The Australian Art Review has concluded that although techniques in Tony’s work are highly influenced by Turner, Smibert’s style is uniquely his own. Mr President, I am sure you would agree we were privileged to be shown a collection of these works during our visit.

When visiting the studio, stepping outside the gallery and when walking across from the outbuilding studio, I was much struck by the magnificent view of the Western Tiers. I feel sure they would be a wonderful source of inspiration for Tony’s work. I made this observation because I recently read that the new gallery curator, Louise Reid Davies of the University of Tasmania, when commenting on Smibert’s style said that the paintings are abstract but based on features of landscape observed in Turner’s inspired works. How very fortunate that Tony, Carmel and family chose this area of our state to make their home and follow their passion for art.

An important aspect of our visit, which needs our focus, was discussion about support for emerging artists, particularly young artists, who really struggle to get started in the industry and secure the necessary support while building a reputation in their chosen field of art. Tony and Carmel spoke passionately about this issue to members. They very generously offered to provide their valuable time and assist in developing a support initiative between government and the arts community, an initiative that would allow those in our arts community to concentrate on their craft with the aim of fully developing their artistry and achieving the very best outcome possible.

Given the high esteem in which Tony and Carmel are regarded in the art world, this offer to be involved is one we should embrace and do what we can to show our support. On the day, I felt that there was a supportive vibe among members as we listened to what was being presented.

Our sincere thanks to Tony and Carmel for their generous hospitality and for sharing so much detail of their wonderful and quite fascinating artworks in the most picturesque setting that the Smiberts call home.