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I have always been interested in art since I was a small child. Both my parents paint and draw and it was inevitable that I would find some paper and pencils and begin sketching very early on.
I had a deep interest in the old masters of the European Renaissance and the Baroque.Through my schooling I was privileged to have very enthusiastic art teachers. Most were painters, some were poets and others came from different fields like sculpture and printmaking.
My time in the National Art School in Newcastle from 1977 to 1981 was exciting and gave me an opportunity to find a particular field that I was interested in. The fashion in 1977 was German expressionism, though my own desire was to learn painting and drawing skills to have a good grounding in realism and traditional techniques.Sadly these were not being taught and therefore, I found myself having to develop through a series of trial and error exercises.
Having said that, I was still exposed to other fields in art school, such as printmaking [etching and silk screening], photography and conceptual and kinetic sculpture. So, I never considered my time there as ever wasted.
Silk by Rod Bathgate
Crisp Nobbys Arvo by Rod Bathgate
Coinciding with my Diploma and Post Graduate Diploma, I went to Tech. college and gained a journeyman certificate in signwriting, that would take me to work all over the country. For a time, I worked with a trade sign writer in Nelson Bay, which led to many years painting sideshows and carnival backdrops.
It was in 1988 that I launched into pastels as a serious field. I found the medium very natural and soon developed a naturalistic/quasi photo real style of seascape where my focus was dappled sunlight in shallow water. After a short while I established my 'signature' in pastels with water being my main subject.
Ever since that time I have honed my pastel skills as well as illustration and cartooning [which I loved from a very early age].
I work mainly in pastels these days, but I enjoy all mediums including oils, acrylics, gouache and of course pencil and pen and ink.
The 'boutique market' to which I have supplied years of work has given me a reasonably established name and without the help of curators like Mark Widdup at Cooks Hill Galleries, I would have found it very difficult to reach my goals.
I never tire of the work I do and there is always new insights and things to learn about the medium and my subjects.
Bathgate captures more than realism, that is an understatement! An aura and familiarity of a location gets developed in his art yet with his observation he extracts the essence of a place as though he knows the local intimately. That he does for much of the beachscapes of Newcastle however Rod delves into a subject to explore it in a 3d fashion! Typical subject matter to highlight this phenomena is his over, through and underwater light and water fracture. The viewer of a Bathgate pastel has the ability for one’s eyes to pass through the composition as would a 3 dimensional scan or passage! The best examples to illustrate this is the artworks titled ‘Crystal voyager’ or a wave composition ‘Silk’ where you become immersed.
There is the experience of ‘being there’ that is revealed to the viewer within a Bathgate landscape! He makes you look, feel and react.
The pastel medium is transformed by Bathgate, developed by layering, rubbing back and what I describe as an innate understanding of subject he chooses to paint and how the pastel needs to be applied. Combine this with his vision of place (the subject) he elects to paint he is the master of what is to be revealed.
Flameout by Rod Bathgate
Vintage Cowrie Hole 2 by Rod Bathgate
Rod has elected to stay with the visual art of realism, however he can/could easily transcend to ‘street art; or ‘cartoons’ The later he continually enjoys for his own pleasure and distinctiveness.
For beach lovers this exhibition of 20 artworks is a Newcastle’s ‘Bathers way’ of discovery! Post the Super cars finale in Newcastle last month it is so pertinent a reminder that Bathgate has been observing and remarking on our coastline well before the national and international media exposure of Newcastle. In fact he can tell and give the viewers of the region far more insights than a camera pan over the cities landscape. Set Bathgate to work and he enhances the obvious locations and the overlooked with an artist vision achieved through decades of experience and knowledge.
The digital exhibition catalogue containing exhibition introduction, artist statement and CHG Director's statement can be downloaded here following the opening.
Vintage Cowrie Hole 2
Reef Hopping in the Cowrie Hole
Vintage Cowrie Hole 2 AP
Cowrie Hole 3
Cowrie Hole 2
Cowrie Hole 1
Nobbys on Storm
Gloucester Morning Fire
The Jade Room
Bar Beach Sojourn
Wuthering Heights Merewether
Late Arvo, Horseshoe Beach Entrance
September, Dixon Park to Merewether
Ocean Baths Beyond the Stretch
Stroll, Nobbys Beach
Crystal Voyager (Pledge)
Crisp Nobbys Arvo
65 Bull St, Cooks Hill, Newcastle
Wed, Thurs, Fri & Sat 10am - 5pm
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