Jo Ernst is drawing people into the Manning Regional Art Gallery space

Interaction and art: Matthew Alley and Dushka Winkley with artist Jo Ernst, who has drawn their portraits. Photo: Lachlan Leeming.
Interaction and art: Matthew Alley and Dushka Winkley with artist Jo Ernst, who has drawn their portraits. Photo: Lachlan Leeming.

The beaming faces of Matthew Alley and Dushka Winkley say it all.

The two young people from Valley Industries made a visit to Manning Regional Art Gallery last Friday and had their portraits drawn on the spot by figurative artist Jo Ernst, who has been an artist-in-residence over the past couple of weeks.

It was a positive experience for all involved.

“I love the interaction with people,” said Jo.

“I love connecting with their emotions, portraying that and going deeper than just the facade. I find peeling away the layers fascinating. There’s something real about it and you go deeper.”

Jo’s current work of art is part of The Wall Project, an ongoing activity at the gallery that is bringing artists into the space to work and gives the public an opportunity to meet them and to see how they work.

“It’s a really good idea. It seems to be attracting people.

“I heard about it on the gallery website and thought ‘I want to get involved in this’.”

Her idea was simple - to draw everyone who walks in the door of the gallery.

“To cover the wall with paper and people just walked in and spontaneously asked to sit or I could do a little sketch while people were wandering around the gallery,” said Jo.

The wall at Manning Regional Art Gallery where Jo Ernst is creating portraits of people who come in and sit for her.

The wall at Manning Regional Art Gallery where Jo Ernst is creating portraits of people who come in and sit for her.

“It’s not particularly complicated but sometimes the less complicated something is, the more powerful it is.”

Jo has had a steady stream of people coming in and said one woman who came in with her four young children made an impression.

“The children wanted to draw too, so one little girl was drawing me while I was drawing her.

“They were sprawled out on the floor and got out their pencils and paper. It was wonderful.”

At the conclusion of Jo’s residency the gallery wall will be covered with many faces who represent the people of the Manning Valley.

Subjects of all ages are being drawn by Jo Ernst at Manning Regional Art Gallery.

Subjects of all ages are being drawn by Jo Ernst at Manning Regional Art Gallery.

The artwork is being created using a variety of mediums.

“It’s mixed media. I started with an acrylic wash and worked into it with pastels. I’ll add some acrylic and put on some graphite and will use some charcoal. I’m overlapping and splashing.”

Jo, from Mooral Creek, has been a practising artist for the past 25 years and can complete portraits like these in about 15 to 20 minutes.

“I’ve developed the skill. It was one of things I was determined to do.”

She said sitting for a portrait can be quite relaxing and “not as daunting as a photo”. 

Jo will be at the gallery this Friday and Saturday between 10am and 4pm for people interested in having their portraits added to the wall.

Jo Ernst draws a portrait at the Manning Regional Art Gallery.

Jo Ernst draws a portrait at the Manning Regional Art Gallery.

This story Drawing people into the art gallery space first appeared on Manning River Times.