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Eccentric late artist Lorry Humphreys honoured with exhibition in Mt Gambier

Posted February 24, 2017 13:27:43

Kate Czaban in gallery Photo: Lorry Humphreys’ friend Kate Czaban in the gallery ‘studio’ says “she is here”. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill )[1]Related Story: Mount Gambier artist leaves a lasting legacy[2]Map: Mount Gambier 5290[3]

A blue eyebrow pencil is not the kind of item normally on display at Mount Gambier’s Riddoch Art Gallery, but in an exhibition from late artist Lorry Humphreys, it makes perfect sense. The elderly lady famous for her blue eyebrows, knitted hats and love of art, donated her entire estate — valued at £1.4million — to a Mount Gambier philanthropic foundation after her death in 2015. The bequest included Lorry’s vast collection of artworks, both her own and that of other artists that filled every room of her brightly-painted limestone cottage from floor to ceiling.

Lorry's blue eyebrow pencil Photo: Lorry was famous for her blue eyebrows, so her last pencil features in the exhibition. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill )[4]

Fascinated by the story of the 84-year-old artist and her incredible gift to the Stand Like Stone Foundation, chairperson Ruth Schubert decided Lorry’s legacy should be honoured with a final show.

“I was intrigued by this lady who would give her entire estate to the foundation and who made such a huge donation,” Ms Schubert said. “She never exhibited very much and one of her major exhibitions was with a friend Kate Czaban very late in her life.

“We can honour Lorry and her legacy by giving a major exhibition of her work.”

On Friday night, the Life and Works of Lorry Humphreys will open at the gallery where exhibition curator Jacqui Porter has painstakingly recreated Lorry’s studio, with the late artist’s own chair, brushes and little touches from her life. Lorry’s good friend Kate Czaban said the colourful late artist would approve, as she liked people to see her work as it was presented in her own home.

“She would be thrilled. This is what she was. Art was such an integral part of her life,” Ms Czaban said.

Stand Like Stone Foundation chair Ruth Schubert Photo: “I was intrigued by Lorry’s story.” Stand Like Stone Foundation chair Ruth Schubert. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill )[5]

Life dedicated to art

Born in Sydney in 1930, the aspiring young artist studied art and sculpture at schools in Canberra and Sydney, Ms Czaban said.

At the age of 20, the sudden death of her father was to affect her life dramatically and she effectively put her art on hold to look after her severely deaf mother with her brother. But whenever she got a stolen hour to paint or sketch, Lorry took the opportunity and her work was exhibited in many galleries across the years. Although her distinct abstract style won her recognition on a local and national level, including being named a finalist in the acclaimed Sir John Sulman Art Prize, Lorry never held her own exhibition.

She moved to Mount Gambier around 20 years ago following the death of her mother, and quickly became an active member of the local arts scene. Age did not slow her. In her later years, Lorry was still challenging herself to hang a new set of pictures in her home each year and holding large and music-filled ‘open houses’ which went on long into the night.

Lorry Humphreys Photo: Late artist Lorry Humphreys, who left her entire estate to a Mount Gambier philanthropic organisation. (Supplied: Kate Czaban)[6]

Ms Caban said Lorry never married or had children and had a huge circle of friends across several states.

Ms Schubert believes the late artist chose the foundation because it would be able to channel her bequest to fund local grants and scholarships in areas she felt strongly about — trades, arts and the community. “She loved Mount Gambier, even though she came here relatively late in life, and she wanted to give back,” she said.

“Lorry was a very generous person. Some of the money she has donated will become a major bequest for trades, because her father was a carpenter.”

Ms Schubert said the value of Lorry’s bequest would be felt by the city of Mount Gambier for many years.

The final show

One of Lorry’s final artworks was a charcoal sketch inspired by a Glencoe pine forest blackened by bushfire, a project she worked on with Ms Czaban.

It was found on her easel after her death.

Little touches of Lorry Photo: Little touches of Lorry feature in the exhibition. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill)[7]

“People are going to see how incredible she was, just the depth and breadth of her ability,” Ms Czaban said, smiling. When the gallery fills with friends and members of the local arts scene on Friday, Ms Czaban believes the lady she knew as simply ‘Lol’ will be there in spirit.

“You can feel her here,” Ms Czaban said.

“‘Unbelievable’, she would say. I think she had given up expecting any sort of recognition so I think she would be amazed.”

Particularly for the after-party, an event she was extremely fond of. “She did love an after-party,” Ms Czaban said. “All the elements she loved — music, art, food and friends.”

The Life and Works of Lorry Humphreys is on at the Riddoch Art Gallery until March 26.

Topics: visual-art, library-museum-and-gallery, arts-and-entertainment, community-and-society, painting, mount-gambier-5290, sydney-2000[8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

References

  1. ^ Photo: Lorry Humphreys’ friend Kate Czaban in the gallery ‘studio’ says “she is here”. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill ) (www.abc.net.au)
  2. ^ Related Story: Mount Gambier artist leaves a lasting legacy (www.abc.net.au)
  3. ^ Map: Mount Gambier 5290 (maps.google.com)
  4. ^ Photo: Lorry was famous for her blue eyebrows, so her last pencil features in the exhibition. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill ) (www.abc.net.au)
  5. ^ Photo: “I was intrigued by Lorry’s story.” Stand Like Stone Foundation chair Ruth Schubert. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill ) (www.abc.net.au)
  6. ^ Photo: Late artist Lorry Humphreys, who left her entire estate to a Mount Gambier philanthropic organisation. (Supplied: Kate Czaban) (www.abc.net.au)
  7. ^ Photo: Little touches of Lorry feature in the exhibition. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill) (www.abc.net.au)
  8. ^ visual-art (www.abc.net.au)
  9. ^ library-museum-and-gallery (www.abc.net.au)
  10. ^ arts-and-entertainment (www.abc.net.au)
  11. ^ community-and-society (www.abc.net.au)
  12. ^ painting (www.abc.net.au)
  13. ^ mount-gambier-5290 (www.abc.net.au)
  14. ^ sydney-2000 (www.abc.net.au)

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