New web series inspired by the NGV’s Australian Impressionism exhibition

NGV-Adam-PyettA new web series produced by the National Gallery of Victoria celebrates and explores the continuing legacy of painting outdoors – en plein air – and its impact on the practices of contemporary Australian artists working today, including Adam Pyett, Mary Tonkin, Lyn-Al Young and the Victorian Artists Society.

The video series is inspired by the NGV-exclusive exhibition, She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionism, a large-scale presentation of 270 works by some of the most widely recognisable and celebrated Australian Impressionists, including Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Jane Sutherland, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, Clara Southern, John Russell and E Phillips Fox.

“Throughout history, the natural world has always been a source of inspiration for artists, but especially for the Impressionists,” said Tony Ellwood AM, Director NGV. “Painting outdoors enabled these artists to capture his or her environment with immediacy and a freshness that was hard to replicate indoors.”

“This NGV-commissioned series shall reveal how the technique of painting en plein air and capturing the beauty of our natural surrounds continue to be a source of inspiration for artists working today.”

Commencing 12 May, the web series features contemporary landscape painter Adam Pyett, whose practice deeply explores the very nature of painting using Australian landscapes as a subject to explore relationships between light and colour.

Also featured is Victorian-based contemporary landscape painter Mary Tonkin, who works entirely en plein air in the dense bush on her family’s farm at Kalorama which is surrounded by the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

Mary paints extraordinarily detailed compositions, seeking to convey sensations and emotions that arise in response to the surrounding bushland, grappling with changing light over the weeks and months creating the work.

Celebrating her practice of painting on Country, fashion designer and Gunnai, Wiradjuri, Gunditjmara and Yorta Yorta woman, Lyn-Al Young is also featured in the series.

The episode will celebrate Lyn-Al painting outdoors at her home in Warrandyte, Victoria and the nearby Currawong Bush Park where she takes inspiration from nature and paints directly onto silk textiles, which are then designed into vibrant one-off wearable art pieces, each one telling a story connected to herself, her family and her Country.

The series will also spotlight the thriving creative community of the Victorian Artists Society, where the Australian Impressionist painters including Frederick McCubbin, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton formally gathered during the late 1800s.

This episode will feature today’s members of the Society who continue the en plein air legacy by gathering monthly to paint outdoors at locations across Victoria such as Mentone Beach, Merri Creek and further afield in regional areas of the state.

The video will also highlight the contemporary practices of Society members today and the diversity of programming including annual exhibitions and oil, still life, portraiture, and life group painting classes.

She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionism is now showing at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia until 22 August 2021. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Adam Pyett (supplied)