Four artists to visit at the Margaret River Region Open Studios (MRROS)

During the Margaret River Region Open Studios (MRROS), 167 artists fling open their decorative doors and invite the public into their creative worlds from 10 – 25 September 2022.

As if Australia’s Southwest wasn’t already decorative enough. The Margaret River Region’s artistic legends spin creativity from Busselton to Augusta with their paintings, drawings, sculptures, stone carving, glass making, printmaking, woodwork, furniture, jewellery, ceramics, textiles, installations, metalwork, mixed media, photography and up-cycling, to name some of the creations exhibited during the Margaret River Region Open Studios (MRROS).

Rebecca Cool’s studio, credit Tim Campbell

The not-for-profit 16-day event is free for visitors who relish in the unexpected pleasure of not knowing entirely what to expect from each property, which could be an old timber mill cottage, dairy farm, straw bale home, a beach shack, a sprawling vista of delight like Rebecca Cool or a curious mix of oceanic oddities at master printmaker, painter and sculptor Leon Pericles’ studio.

Margaret River Region Open Studios

MRROS 2022 event guide

You can download a map from www.mrropenstudios.com.au or pick up a program from many outlets in the region. It’s almost impossible to visit all the artists, so I suggest focusing on an area and here’s my pick from Busselton, Dunsborough and the surrounding area.

Margaret River Region Open Studios

John Miller in his workshop, credit Tim Campbell

John Miller

It’s worth visiting John Miller Designs studio and store In Yallingup if only to lose yourself in the lush grounds and wearable art pieces. Approaching 50 years of metalsmithing, any chat you’re lucky enough to engage in with John is enlighting as he regales the process used to create his handcrafted creations. Traditional stamping is one technique he applies; as a result, he has developed a unique and extensive range of tools and punches. “I have to sort them into categories like birds, butterflies and tiny sea creatures, so I don’t lose any.” As one of the country’s most prolific and creative jewellers, particularly in silver, he has a team helping him, although he can often be found fusing, forging, stone setting, engraving and creating in his Yallingup workshop. You can also visit his store at the Margaret River Gallery in the Margaret River township for his distinct designs, often adorned with Argyle diamonds, Broome pearls, Australian sapphires and opals, and local and imported gems magically woven into images of local flora, fauna, landscapes and ocean vistas. www.johnmillerdesign.com/

Carmen McFaull in her studio

Carmen McFaull

Visiting Carmen McFaull in her walled studio is like stepping into a slice of Bali. Her tropical oasis is in complete contrast to the bold turquoise and pindan reds adorning her canvases. Beware, her current body of paintings showcasing the Pilbara and Coral Coast might leave you yearning for a trip up north from the powdery dunes at Sandy Cape in Jurien Bay to the majestic copper-coloured rock formations in Karijini National Park. Working from her home studio, Carmen has evolved her technique into an abstract form of expressionism over 25 years, “I still paint in a loose impressionistic style depicting real-life situations and scenes, then I continue to manipulate the composition and colour combinations, so there is a subtle or dynamic movement across the canvas.” Carmen opens her studio up to the public four times a year at Easter, Christmas, Labour Day weekend and during MRROS, where everything is for sale, including her canvases, prints, cards and books. www.carmenmcfaull.com.au

Margaret River Region Open Studios

Gerald Ashcroft at the ArtGeo Cultural Complex

Gerald Ashcroft

Situated in Studio Two in the ArtGeo Cultural Complex in Busselton, Gerald’s landscape paintings are certainly thought-provoking. On first impression, you might think you recognise specific destinations, but Gerald assures me they are all the makings of his mind in a kaleidoscope of imagery. His process starts with a vague idea of a colour palette, which he splatters on the canvas and works from there in a semi-impressionistic style. “I start by attacking the canvas, but the trick is knowing when to stop.” Despite this seemingly haphazard approach, his coastal horizons exude a subtle blend of balance, dark solid shapes against lighter and softer imagery and clever placement of highlights used to draw your eye to certain areas. 2022 is Gerald’s second time with MRROS, but something tells me after this exhibition that many of his paintings will find new homes, and he will have to start from scratch. With one of his paintings on your wall, you’ll lose yourself in the calm created from what began as a frenzy of paint and emotion. www.geraldashcroft.com

Margaret River Region Open Studios

Christian Fletcher’s exquisite use of light

Christian Fletcher

One of the most gifted landscape photographers in the state, Christian Fletcher has taken a unique approach with MRROS in 2022 by inviting local artists to interpret his photos through their unique artworks, including jeweller John Miller, Lauren Wilhelm, Mary-Lynne Stratton, Ian Mutch Ros Hamdorf, Ingrid and Josh Windram, Peter Scott, glassmaker Gerry Reilly, sculptor Voytek Kozlowski and Ian Daniells, who has a mural of a whale shark at Shelter Brewing Co. on the Busselton foreshore. “It was my wife’s idea to collaborate with other artists, and next year I might reverse the idea by interpreting their works through photography. It has been interesting how they have interpreted my work, some literally and others interpretatively.” Perfecting the art of light, composition, colour and post-processing, he believes flawless lighting is at the core of his photos. His gallery in Dunsborough is open year-round and a delight to visit, especially when Christian is there to share his inspiration. www.christianfletcher.com.au

Margaret River Region Open Studios

Check out Ian Daniell’s mural at Shetler Brewing Co.

To read more about MRROS, please read An Artistic Adventure in Margaret River

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