In April 2018, Anne and I spent a long weekend exploring art galleries in the South Gippsland area. At the time Anne featured a few highlights in her blogs. In case you have forgotten Gippsland is located in the south-east of Melbourne in Victoria – a very picturesque area and home to many artists.
By sheer chance we stumbled on the gallery of Emily Koenders hidden at the rear of her Australian colonial homestead located in Ruby, a tiny town in this area. Her home is perched on a hill with sweeping views of the Strzelecki Ranges in one direction and Wilsons Promontory in the other. Jutting out into her back garden, into this view is a two-storey glass cube, which houses her studio and gallery.
We were thrilled to chat with Emily – a very engaging and charismatic woman – time was of no importance as she described a deep connection with her art. Emily specialises in painting birds and other wildlife (as shown with her in the hero image and below)
Her skill is in the precise and meticulous detail of her work – every speckle, fleck and splash of colour intricately defined. Each feather for instance, is painted with the finest of brushes – perhaps just one or two bristles – you can image how long it would take to paint a wing…
(photos taken of her painting during our visit, with her permission).
Emily’s art career commenced at age 14 and as we chatted she mentioned that recently she learned of her connection to Vincent Van Gogh – being his great, great, great, great niece – now further inspiration to work with even greater passion and depth. It has helped her explain the core yearning she has always felt.
An article last year in The Star – a regional Gippsland newspaper, provides an excellent summary:
Emily’s style showcases her wonderful capacity to utilise light and form to create unique effects, with her works being executed in several mediums ranging from gouache and watercolour to pencil and pastel.
She seeks to elicit an emotional response from the viewer by the use of colour, atmosphere, behaviour and mood.
Emily invites you to come on a journey with her and participate in the drama of her beautifully realistic depictions of the wonders of the created world from the tiniest of birds to the largest land animals.
A quote of hers, which expresses her feelings deeply, is worth acknowledging: “Loving nature is perfection, and to capture that magic, even to give those who view my work a glimpse at it, is what I wish to achieve”.
Emily’s travels have taken her to studying art in the great galleries across Europe. She has had amazing wildlife encounters throughout the world, which have included feeding a Sumatran tiger a bottle of milk, giraffes, bears, and playing with cheetahs.
We only spent an hour with Emily, yet she has made a lasting impression.
Emily also completes commissioned work – although it is quite different to the impressionist style made famous by her renowned ancestor - wouldn’t it be fabulous to have a portrait painted by a descendent of Vincent Van Gogh?