Earth used to create paintings

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2013
Gary Freemantle
DIRTY JOB: William Hodges Fellow Gary Freemantle looks at the substances used in this exhibition.

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An exhibition using natural earth oxides from Southland's quarries and beaches opens at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery today.

The exhibition, called Digging Deep, is the work of 2012 William Hodges Fellow Gary Freemantle and features a series of mostly landscapes.

It runs until March 17.

Freemantle said he picked up haematite rock near Riverton, volcanic rock near Otautau, glacial dust from Balclutha and greywacke and quartz from around the area and mixed it with water to paint everything from images of Lake Wakatipu on a still day to objects in Southland's cemeteries.

A quartz mix - one of 70 colours he created by grinding up the rock - was used to paint cherubs there, he said.

Most of Freemantle's work was familiar territory, and viewed through a tourist's eyes, so he had struggled to make the exhibition fresh.

Using substances out of the region's earth added a whole new meaning to keeping it local, he said.

People often questioned how difficult it was to grind up the rock and use it as a paste for canvas - but this was how painting first began, he said: "It was fingers in mud, on cave walls."

The William Hodges Fellowship was Freemantle's third major residency, after a fellowship at Wellington's Rita Angus cottage in 1988 and Tylee cottage in Wanganui in 1994.

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- The Southland Times

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