18 August 2023

Compassion opens the way for young artists to inspire

| John Thistleton
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Cockatoos flying at sunset inspirited Goulburn artist Katerina Mortensen to paint this stunning acrylics on canvas creation, ‘Last Call’. Photo: Katerina Mortensen.

Young artists taking up the Goulburn Base Hospital and Southern Tablelands Arts (STA) offer of hanging their work in a compassionate setting can look to prolific local artist Katerina Mortensen for inspiration.

The hospital and peak arts and cultural agency are commissioning eight captivating artworks to adorn the Palliative Care Unit at the hospital. As well as commissions of either $400 or $800, they can make a difference in the lives of people receiving palliative care and showcase their artistic talent in a caring place.

They need only look to the natural beauty of the Southern Tablelands for their subjects, as award-winning artist Katerina does most days at home at Quialigo, southeast of Goulburn. From there, this gifted artist has captured Australia’s stunning birdlife and fulfilled rewarding commissions. These include painting rosella parrots for the Maple-Brown family at Springfield.

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Every morning Katerina is likely to find crimson rosellas feeding outside. Her husband and fellow artist Alex leaves a little bit of seed about for them. “I have always liked them because of the colours, I am inspired by colours,” said Katerina, who sold three paintings at this year’s Royal Easter Show.

One evening Katerina and Alex walked to see the sunset from their hill and saw a flock of cockatoos flying in the last soft light of the day. It was enough to inspire another magnificent painting, ‘Last Call’.

“I exaggerated the colours, I just wanted it to be bright,” she said.

She never ventures too far from reality with her artistic creations. “I photograph them [rosellas] and look very carefully at the feathers because they have different patterns and I am trying to reproduce how they are,” she said. “Maybe the acrylic colours are not the same as nature.”

In her 20s living in Russia, Katerina’s family saw a more secure future for her in science and computers because of her talent for mathematics and physics. Art was not regarded as a good means of making a living.

Artist and painting

Katerina Mortensen working on an earlier commission for her neighbour. Photo: John Thistleton.

My art life started when I arrived here in Australia,” she said. “Alex encouraged me so much and I felt better about it and produced better work,” she said.

While ineligible for the hospital commissions, she is happy to be an example for younger artists.

The kind of natural beauty she has captured will be highly regarded as judges look to find suitable artwork for the hospital.

“The new palliative care rooms are state of the art in terms of medical resources and care,” Southern Tablelands Arts Executive Rose Marin said.

“The addition of real art into the rooms will create a more beautiful space for patients and their families.”

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Thanks to the Palliative Care and Oncology Support Group, funding enables STA to engage young artists professionally and support them in bringing their creative concepts to life.

The competition is open to young artists aged 30 years or younger residing within the Southern Tablelands region (Hilltops, Goulburn Mulwaree, Upper Lachlan, Queanbeyan Palerang, Wollondilly, Wingecarribee and Yass Valley) who can submit their concept designs for consideration.

Entry is free, offering an inclusive platform for emerging artists.

Successful artists will be paid a fee for the completion of a painting in one of two supplied canvas sizes: $400 for a 40 x 40 cm canvas and $800 for a 76 x 76 cm canvas.

Painting of rosellas.

Katerina is inspired by the colours of the rosellas. Photo: Katerina Mortensen.

Upon selection, artists will be provided with a square canvas to complete their commission.

They can apply by describing in 100 words or less their proposal for their artwork and provide a basic concept sketch, plus images of three artworks from their own portfolio or links to these online.

Applications close on 10 September. For more information visit the website.

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