Artist Eion Shanks has returned to his home town of Oamaru “for keeps”.
Since returning in 2016 he has created a body of new works for an exhibition, Neither Here nor There, that opens in the Forrester Gallery tonight.
Shanks has chosen evocative names for the 15 works on display – such as “Comet veering into the land at the dawn chorus”, “Surveyor landing lightly”, and “Taniwha meets the seahorse”.
They are all charcoal and oil on board.
“Painting is my way of obscuring and giving back my take on the world,” Shanks said.
“I have done this steadily from the time I could hold a crayon.
“These new works are both internal and external views of my life here and beyond Oamaru.
“I paint mostly on plywood with a palette knife. I find the naturalistic surface of the woodgrain energetic and inspiring.
“I also paint and draw on paper and make etching prints. I sometimes use images from my drawing and etchings in my paintings.
“My paintings are essentially landscapes painted en plein air or studio-created images from dreams about my life, or a combination of both.”
Shanks said his views of life were “either stolen or enticed out” from their hiding place.
“As my works progress I am shown or understand things in them beyond my waking consciousness.
“When I see or find something in or about my work, I am grateful and appreciative. To me this gives my work greater relevance.”
He hoped they would move and inspire viewers.
Kurow-born Shanks attended the Dunedin School of Art Oamaru Campus in the late 1980s. He has held numerous exhibitions throughout New Zealand, including two previous solo exhibitions at the Forrester. A 2005 work is on display upstairs in the Built Heritage exhibition.
Shanks now paints in an Oamaru studio in between building a house on Cape Wanbrow.