Review / Andrew Sayers paints clear air

‘A lense of clear air’ at Beaver Galleries, 81 Denison St Deakin, until Nov 29 reviewed by Anja Loughhead

‘A LENSE of clear air’ is an intimate exhibition providing Canberra audiences with a glimpse into the art practice of the late Andrew Sayers.

Andrew Sayers - 'A lens of clear air II', gouache on paper.

Andrew Sayers – ‘A lens of clear air II’, gouache on paper.

A curator and art historian, Sayers was director of The National Portrait Gallery (1998 – 2010) and The National Museum of Australia (2010 – 2013) before retiring to focus his attention to painting. Completed before his passing in early October this collection of works, painted predominantly on paper, reflect the artist’s interest in the light and landscape of the Canberra and the surrounding coastal region.

Andrew Sayers - 'Sea beaten rocks, Haywards Beach', gouache on paper.

Andrew Sayers – ‘Sea beaten rocks, Haywards Beach’, gouache on paper.


There is a decisive nature to Sayers’ application of paint throughout this exhibition, an indicator of furious moments spent capturing a shift or break in weather. The immediacy of Sayer’s brushwork is however counterbalanced by his specific colour palette, a ranging tonal field that visually communicates a considerable attention to light and how this resource influenced his visual articulation of the natural landscape.

The championing piece of this exhibition is undoubtedly ‘The rowers, Herring Island’. The only large-scale work included in ‘A lense of clear air’ this oil on canvas piece is a poignant depiction of Sayers’ time spent watching rowers passing by. Projecting an austere quality within the gallery space this piece exposes the scale and intimacy of Sayers’ additional works such as ‘Sea beaten rocks Haywards beach’ and ‘Middle Beach, Mimose Rocks National Park’.

‘A lense of clear air’ is an introspective collection of works that denote Andrew Sayers’ nostalgia for the essence of stillness that comes from his time spent in the Australian landscape.

Anja Loughhead is currently Writer in Residence at M16 Artspace, Griffith.


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