Written by Shaun Ryan
Showcasing her artwork and having other people view and interpret her favourite pieces is something Valerie McIntosh has always enjoyed.
The Maryborough local recently had a collection of her work displayed at the Portside Café and Restaurant overlooking the picturesque Mary River.
“Showcasing my art is something I have always done. Ever since we were at school teachers would be selecting artwork and hanging it on walls,” said Valerie.
“It’s something you always have to keep practicing. Art came second for me for a while – I had other responsibilities like work and family.”
But it’s often after the children have flown the nest that artists really refine their craft.
“It’s also at that time that you don’t have ongoing work responsibilities and you can really get into it,” explained Valerie.
She said the local art scene in Maryborough was a vibrant one and the Heritage City had a way of inspiring artists.
It could be the beautiful Mary River meandering its way towards the coast, the clocktower at City Hall or the natural fauna and flora just outside town.
“Artists are drawn to the area and there are so many different groups and societies that people can join if they’re creatives, interested in art or just new to the area.”
Valerie said she draws her inspiration from the environment and representing local history.
For this reason, many of her pieces reflect native Australian flowers and animals, the importance of conservation and historic buildings.
The many galleries, cafés and restaurants that showcase local art play an important role in Maryborough’s identity as a creative city.
Not only do they provide a wall for artists to hang their work, but the artists also help keep venues fresh and vibrant. It’s a two-way street.
“The cafés are basically decorated at no cost and the artwork is changed on a regular basis so they’re always fresh and exciting,” said Valerie.
Venues offering a space for artists to exhibit their work also help newcomers to the scene prepare for what is expected.
“When you show your work there is an expectation of how it should be done. Having your paintings nicely framed, for example, is important. Cafés and restaurants that support locals give them that taste of what it’s like to present your work at a gallery.”
Valerie urged people who are interested in art to reach out to their local art society.
“There is a sense of community among creatives and its not all about making sales. Selling a piece of art is the icing on the cake. It’s actually about getting out there, doing it, and learning on the way.”