A Legendary Exhibition: The Art of Ben Hall by Ross Morgan
This weekend we’re hosting a special exhibition to celebrate the DVD release of Australian western The Legend of Ben Hall. Artist Ross Morgan was asked by writer-director-producer Matthew Holmes to create artwork for the film. All the first draft sketches and art used in the film and for promotion will be showcased.
In the great tradition of handmade film posters, the star of the The Art of Ben Hall is the original hand-drawn artwork used for the main poster, the composition reminiscent of epic adventure films like Indiana Jones and Star Wars. “As a boy, I was always fascinated by hand-drawn film posters, book covers and advertisements,” explains the artist, Ross Morgan. “In some ways this poster was a way of fulfilling the dream of that little boy inside me. During the process I even felt that little boy jumping for joy saying, ‘you’re doing it, you are really drawing it!’”
“The other reason for creating the poster is that I was extremely excited about the film. I could see it was a project filled with passion, generosity and amazing people.”
For The Legend of Ben Hall’s writer-director-producer, Matthew Holmes, Morgan was the obvious choice. “I’ve known Ross all my life and we’ve been friends since childhood. We grew up together collaborating in film and art, and he provided some post credit artwork for my first film Twin Rivers in 2007. Ross was very keen to do some artwork on TLOBH, so it was a very natural progression to collaborate as we always have.”
“Ross brings an incredible sense of reality and emotion to his art, along with a professional level of skill. Plus, he is deeply passionate about his work and you cannot buy that level of passion. He was the perfect choice for this film, because he knew exactly what style it required.”
The exhibition includes a series of character portraits that feature at the end of the film in the credits, alongside preliminary sketches for all the final artworks. “I’m normally a painter so it was great to revisit my sketching and drawing with so much intensity,” says Morgan.
“With the portraits I was originally inspired by the style of some of Rembrandt’s academic style etchings. I also looked closely at sketches by well-known American illustrators such as Norman Rockwell and J.C. Leyendecker – and one my many favourite Australian artists Hugh Ramsay. I love the gritty look of the end credits in the modern Sherlock Holmes films so used them as inspiration.”
“I felt like I found part of myself in this process and really believe it will influence my artwork in the future. I also learnt how to push myself much further than I normally would. I really wanted to ‘get it right’ and the feedback and direction I received from Matt helped me push my work to another level. I can see this experience helping me for years to come – I think it made the little boy inside find his direction.”
For fans of the The Legend of Ben Hall, Holmes has promising news: “We hope to start working on the next instalments later this year, but it comes down to financing.” And it’s good news for Morgan too: “If we get the next ones up, Ross will definitely return as our artist.”
The exhibition opens on Friday the 24th of March, from 6pm to 9pm, with refreshments provided, and will remain open for the following Saturday, from 11am – 5pm.