10 Local Canberra Artists You Should Know
Canberra’s current claim as Australia’s coolest city may be met with some hot contesting, but there are plenty of grounds on which its up-and-coming status stands. As the country’s capital – surprising though that nugget of knowledge may be to tourists – Canberra is affectionately known for its sweeping nature reserves and mountain ranges surrounding the city. While our Melbourne team might grumble in disagreement, Canberra’s art and culture scene is growingly named ‘incomparable’. Naturally, if you’re looking for a local Canberra artist, you’ll have your fair pick to choose from. Here are ten of our top, making names for themselves due to their established footing, collectable reputation or emerging talent.
1. Sophie Lawrence: Bluethumb’s Number One Bestselling Artist
Any frequent collectors on Bluethumb will be well familiar with the work of Sophie Lawrence. As our bestselling artist of 2020, this local Canberra artist is on track towards smashing her own record again this year. Her large-scale paintings are reliably bold and vibrant pieces, displaying abstraction and pops of colour. In more recent months, Sophie Lawrence has been exploring various degrees within her style. Described as an ‘intoxicating kaleidoscope of colour and energy’, she has quickly become a favourite with Australia’s collectors since joining the platform in January 2019.
2. Susan Trudinger: A Longstanding Landscape Artist
One of Bluethumb’s most successful landscape artists, Susan Trudinger paints vivid, high-spirited landscapes that emphasise the incredible colours and shapes in the natural world around us. Her abstract approach to various scenes offers a new perspective to traditional settings to the viewer. Her work has been influenced by many years and life experiences, including parenthood, career changes and travelling through the Middle East. It was during these travels Susan found herself “in awe of the landscape, the culture and the fine intricate designs on mosques and other buildings”.
3. Sally Dunbar: A Local Canberra Artist Making Naive Magic
With an impressive array of exhibitions already under her belt, Sally Dunbar has been climbing the ranks in popularity since she first joined Bluethumb in 2017. Sally Dunbar is currently living and working in Canberra and sees art as a sustaining part of her life. Her two-dimensional characters range from Australia’s native animals to classic pet friends at home. Sally’s simplified approach to the canvas provides a sense of candour and ease, much like naïve art so often does.
4. Valentyna Crane: An Artist Rich in Vibrancy
Light, movement and colour are all prime decisive factors in Valentyna’s contemporary impressionist landscapes. Committed to fostering atmosphere throughout her work, Valentyna Crane comes from a classical artistic background and uses her deep knowledge of art history to permeate her art. All of this creates a strong sense of freedom and vibrancy, and carries the crispness of Canberra air.
5. Uschi Novinc: A Bestselling Abstract Artist
Self-taught abstract artist Uschi Novinc has in more recent years utilised painting as a means of catharsis. Her practice relies on intuitive painting and deals in rich and vivid tones and textures – qualities she often contemplates within her life. Drawn to greens, blue hues and darker tones, Uschi Novinc relates to the wild in her work, such as the dark fertile rainforests of south east Asia and northern Australia.
6. Jan Matson: A Favourite of Fun
Oil painter Jan Matson boasts one of the most varied selection of subject matter in her portfolio; from fun beach paintings, to peace ocean views, to floral still life pieces, her bright and saturated colour palette creates a slightly surreal touch to her work. Much of Jan’s painting aims to convey the emotions of our own memories spent in her place of choice.
7. Grace Costa: An Established Canberra Photographer
Canberra born and bred, Grace Costa has spent the past 20 years building her career as a commercial photographer with a multi-award-winning portfolio. The recognition for her skill as a photographer and as a photo-based artist includes a finalist position in the 2014 National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. More recently, in 2020 Grace became a finalist in the Head On Photo Prize, as well as exhibited in the Head On Photo Festival in 2017.
Though her portfolio demonstrates technique and talent with a variety of subject matter, Grace’s heart lies with contemporary portraiture. She is best known for her striking and prolific character portraits of horses. Her love for these portraits developed from her time growing up with her father, a well-respected horseman in Canberra. Bringing this niche area of art into the 21st century, her contemporary equine portraits show a powerful representational image of Grace’s relationships to these animals. This led her to producing her TEDx Canberra talk ‘Finding your creative truth through personal story’ back in 2017.
8. Gosia Orzechowska: An Artist with an Eye for Florals
“I paint, therefore I am” is the motto with which Gosia Orzechowska live. Originally from Poland, Gosia is now happily living in Canberra, seeing Australia’s ecosystem with the fresh eyes of a migrant. Gosia’s current works are representative, detailed pieces, yet there is consistently space for moments of abstraction within her work.
9. Victoria Collins: A Contemporary Impressionist
The deft little flecks of colour Victoria Collins brings to her artworks are ultimately what she is best known for. Her attention to detail in nature’s many scenes mimics the dashes of light by which we so often feel mesmerised. Much of Victoria’s work typically looks at the humble habitats of flora and fauna, which thrive without reference to humans and yet connect us to the natural world. Expect rich tones with complementary colours executed with an impressionistic touch.
10. Brenda Runnegar: A Local Prize Finalist
Local Canberra artist Brenda Runnegar has twice been a finalist in the Portia Geach Memorial Portrait Award, the Eutick Memorial Still Life Award and a semi-finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. Such an impressive assembly of prizes makes her work an idyllic choice of the city’s best.
An avid traveller, Brenda’s work seeks to examine the natural landscape and its relationships with people, both physically and spiritually. Part of her process involves spending extended periods of time in a new place, and experiencing it from the perspective of resident, visitor and privileged interpreter.
Looking for Another Local Canberra Artist?
The ten artists you’ll find above are by no means a definitive list. Discover our full list of artists creating in the country’s capital by clicking here.