Dino and Lottie Consalvo, From the Mudbrick House, The University Gallery, University of Newcastle March 20 to April 20
IT'S unusual for artists of high repute to exhibit with their offspring. So bringing together the work of Dino and Lottie Consalvo in a joint survey exhibition, From the Mudbrick House, at the Newcastle University Gallery on the Callaghan campus offers a rare opportunity to view, not only the individuality of their practices, but also the connections that may exist between them.
Lottie Consalvo is a young, highly-regarded artist whose multi-disciplined practice earned her a residency with world-famous performance artist, Marina Abramovic, in 2015. This was followed by a solo exhibition last year at Victoria’s prestigious Heidi Museum of Modern Art. The one-time home of art patrons John and Sunday Reed, who were great supporters of modernist painters such as Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Sidney Nolan.
In 2011, after spending three years in Berlin, Lottie and her husband James Drinkwater - another shining light of the Australian art scene - decided to move to Newcastle to raise a family and devote themselves to their blossoming art practices.
Drinkwater was a Newcastle boy and Lottie’s grandparents lived in the Tighes Hill house where her father, Dino, was born and raised. These strong connections allowed her to adjust to the demands of raising two small children, while pursuing her artistic career with little disruption.
Dino was always going to be an artist, buying his first oil paints at the age of 12 and holding an exhibition at 16.
After completing high school, Dino set off to Sydney, where he studied fine art at the Alexander Mackie College. There he worked with assistant to the painter John Firth-Smith, who had a profound influence on his approach to art-making.
A year later he was in Melbourne studying at the Caulfield Institute of Technology and in 1981 he moved to the rural tranquillity of Briagolong, in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria’s Gippsland. Whilst there, Dino painted, taught art and raised his baby daughter.
Lottie was brought up in a small mudbrick house in the village surrounded by her father’s paintings and his artist friends and pupils.
This life continued when they moved to Melbourne where Dino founded a successful commercial art business while pursuing his fine art practice.
But there was never pressure for Lottie to follow in his footsteps. Her decision to complete a degree in business studies, rather than fine art, was partly due to her father’s urging to add some security to her life should she choose to travel down the artistic path.
When Dino left Newcastle for Sydney in 1976 he said he’d be away for about a week. But it was some 37 years before he returned "home" to rejoin his parents, daughter and grandchildren in 2012.
Since then both father and daughter have continued to build their careers, regularly exhibiting in Newcastle as well as Sydney and Melbourne.
While Dino’s carefully composed paintings are the result of keen observation and direct engagement with his immediate environment, be it the working port, the coastline, bridges or people, Lottie’s paintings have dropped figurative references. Her immersive, bold, gestural abstracts erupt from long periods of thought and contemplation.
From the Mudbrick House explores the different trajectories these two dedicated artists have taken since their earliest days in rural Victoria to the present, exposing the contrasts and connections between their practices. The University Gallery is the ideal venue to accommodate the large range of works selected.