Retrospect Galleries
52 Jonson St, Byron Bay
Exhibition runs through to September 21

The Drawing Group is Rene Bolten, Michelle Dawson, Hilary Herrmann, Kellie O’Dempsey and James Cruickshank. As a group of practicing artists they are endlessly grateful for the casual collision of circumstances two years ago that conspired to bring them together on a fortnightly basis. Drawn Together is a cross section of the work they have produced within these meetings.

The Drawing Group sees this exhibition as a great opportunity to share the creative fun and explorations had over this time. What has naturally evolved in these sessions is a propensity to work in turn on each others artwork or to work collectively on one piece of work. Their combined skills have coalsced in such a way that defies dissection into who did what and in this way the finished artworks have come to have their own identity. It is as though the five very different ways of seeing and mark making have created a 6th artist, or as Rene puts it, ” 5 is more than 5, 5 is one”

The diversity of their individual practices is perhaps the key to the success of their collaboration. Such a collaborative process is a fine blend of respect, trust, and let go, of not worrying about the outcome or being too attached to individual mark making. They all concur that what they do in these meetings feeds back into their individual practice. James, never one to mince words reflects ” While there is the simple pleasure of their company and working without expectation… but what I really love about working with these seasoned campaigners is I get to see how they solve problems and then steal their ideas for my own.” For Kellie “drawing together resets my compass.” And for Hilary it is, “fun, inspiring and reassuring…” Michelle simply speaks of it as “a tonic’

Each meeting is facilitated by a different artist who sets the exercise, be it a still life of apples or fish or the old surrealist game of “the Exquisite Corpse.” The element of chance has become an important factor. The works from the series “Lucky Dip Words” involved pulling a word out of a paper bag and drawing it before passing it to the next person who drew a new word out and had to incorporate an image of that word into the existing picture, this process was continued until the drawings had gone full circle. These are the most narrative of the works produced by the group.

Over Christmas when the group scattered across the globe, they hit upon a game to keep them connected until meetings could resume. Each artist sent out 4 postcards they had altered in some way. The recipients in turn responded to the change and sent the card on to a new recipient who did likewise. The results of this process are the small artworks in the show entitled “Missing You”.


In keeping with the spirit of their fortnightly meetings the Drawing Group drew names out of a hat and took on the task of encapsulating what each member brings to these fortnightly Wednesday meetings.

Of each other they have this to say:

Hilary Herrmann
“Intrinsic and instinctual with a complexity that belies their primal execution, Hilary paints a world , her world with a stroke that can break you heart…”

Rene Bolten
“Whether drawing on the heritage of Rembrandt or the honesty of scratching shoe polish across paper Rene Bolten’s work is always considered , mercurial and tender.”

Kellie O’Dempsey
“a visual collision of line and energy.”

Michelle Dawson
“Michelle the artist is as Michelle the person, gentle, concerned, amusing.”

James Cruickshank
By emoting every mark he makes, be it with frustration, doubt, passion or pure joy, James constantly reminds us of the vulnerability, excitement and struggle of what we do.

The simple truth and affection of their responses perhaps best illustrates why they work so well together and why Rene Bolten sums up what The Drawing Group means to him by saying ‘wish it was Wednesday.”

For further information visit ; www.retrospectgalleries.com