Wednesday, June 22, 2022
HomeCultureShape of things to come – An interview with Johnny Bell

Shape of things to come – An interview with Johnny Bell

In past months Bell has contributed works to the triennial ukulele exhibition at Gallery East in Clovelly. He has also been teaching clay sculpture classes at the Orchard Gallery (South Sydney Uniting Church) in Waterloo.

“I love to paint the ukes,” Bell says. “I painted two for this recent show.” The Hula Dreams exhibition at Gallery East is the brainchild of curator, artist, gallery co-owner and uke teacher Carol Ruff. Every three years Ruff presents a ukulele to over 50 artists from around the country, and waits for the magic to wind its way to her small and much-loved gallery.

The sculpture classes at the Orchard have been well attended. “We’ve met three times now,” Bell says. “I know this place at Homebush that has good quality clay, so we just work with it and allow things to take shape. It’s such a simple process, working with clay – just working with our hands and the earth. It’s very immediate, there’s nothing to get in the way.”

Participants have created a wealth of intriguing and beautiful works, from wild animals to Nativity figures and more abstract expressions. Some have been painted and varnished. “We’ll spend more time on this early next year – and experiment with different glazing techniques too,” Bell says. There is talk of a group exhibition.

Bell plans to travel a bit over the summer, possibly to Bali for a few weeks. “There’s a place I can stay and work there,” he says, “drawing and painting mostly.” The artist hopes to gather a new collection of works for a solo show at the Orchard Gallery in 2014. “I really enjoyed staging the show there last year – it was such a good time with friends and the community.”

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