20 September 2023

Artist draws on love, fate, and creativity in inspiring new Vintage exhibition

| Sally Hopman
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Woman in front of painting

Fairlie Pearce in front of her work at the opening of the Vintage exhibition at the Tyger Gallery, Yass. Photo: Tyger Gallery.

Fairlie Pearce reckons she’s been friends with her now husband, Alex, since birth.

He was the boy next door – well, across the road, when Fairlie, now 33, was growing up in Canberra. She went on to study art, graduating with honours in print media and drawing from the Australian National University, while he went into the military.

But there was as strong a bond back then as there is now. They have since been together for 13 years, married for eight – and today, happily living in Yass with their toddler, Primrose.

For this artist, Yass was the place to go. Fairlie’s creative spirit led her there, while for Alex, who had left the military, it was an ideal place to start a new profession – one perfectly suited to helping his wife live her dream as an artist – he opened a picture framing studio.

“It was perfect,” Fairlie said. “We wanted to move somewhere where there was more space, where we could be more creative, where I could have a studio and a framing workshop.

“I think it says a lot about Yass when it didn’t take very long to feel that we fitted in.”

The move and the creativity it brought with it has paid off, with Fairlie’s work now featured, as one of a group of artists, in the latest exhibition at the Yass art gallery Tyger, called Vintage. The exhibition features 44 artworks by new and emerging artists.

Man and woman

Fairlie Pearce and her husband Alex Ward have known each other since childhood. He now runs a framing studio in Yass. Photo: Supplied.

The gallery, which opened in the Memorial Hall in the main street earlier this year, is the brainchild of Yass local Martyn Pearce, with about half of its profits going to local charities.

Again, as fate led her so romantically in her personal life, it transported Fairlie just as fatefully into her creative one.

“Alex and I were working on renovating this 1970s caravan we had to make into a printmaking studio in Yass. He helped me as the ‘clean hands’ while I was working, thinking about what I was going to do but knowing that I loved working with flowers, with vintage things, with pinks and peaches which evoke memories of nostalgia and romance. It’s like when you’re inspired by someone who you discover is your match in life and how you see they appreciate you for who you are.

“You can look at it like a bouquet, meticulously arranging a bouquet, picking each person as a flower in that.”

Influenced by the work of such Australian artists as Thea Proctor and Margaret Preston, Fairlie describes her floral works in Vintage: “Through each meticulously carved piece, I seek to conjure a sense of nostalgia, inviting viewers to explore the delicate interplay between artistic heritage, nature’s elegance and the enduring charm of a bygone era.

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“It’s all about,” she said, “the intricate dance between the past and the present in every piece.”

Fairlie also believes fate helped her showcase her artwork in the new Yass gallery.

“Alex opened his framing studio at around the same time and the two of them connected quickly. Martyn saw some of my work and asked about it … Alex told him it was mine.

“He said to Alex, ‘She needs to do an exhibiton’ – and that’s how it all happened.”

Paintings on wall

Fairlie Pearce’s work is on show in Vintage at the Tyger Gallery, in the main street of Yass, until 30 September. Photo: Tyger Gallery.

So what’s next after Vintage for Fairlie.

“I’ve had this idea floating around in my head for ages,” she said, “and I have to do something with it. It’s a five-foot owl carved from woodblock – and I want to turn it into a giant sculpture.”

Vintage is on at the Tyger Gallery, Comur Street, Yass until 30 September. It’s a free exhibition, open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.

A group show, it also features the work of Canberra artist Jenny Ahmad, Karen Holloway, whose work encapsulates the beauty of Australian flora, Rachel Moodie (mixed media works), Sarah McGrath (realistic paintings in oil), Skye Rollo (works in mixed media), and the hand-cut collage work of Vanessa Esau.

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