Contribute to Ron Edwards retrospective exhibition at Tanks Arts Centre
The life and work of late great Cairns artist and folklorist Ron Edwards will be honoured with a retrospective exhibition at Tanks Arts Centre and curators are putting out the call to the local community for assistance.
Ron Edwards was an artist, craftsman, publisher, storyteller and musician, who was a significant figure in the North Queensland arts scene since his arrival here in the late-1950s.
His contribution to Australia folk music was especially notable, with his Big Book of Australian Folk Song published in 1976.
For this and other work detailing Australia's social history, Ron was awarded an Order of Australia in 1992.
"Ron Edwards led an astonishingly productive life in both quantity and diversity," says Mark Thomson, the curator of the exhibition.
"He was a recorder and maker of almost every creative aspect of rural Australian life. The stockman's leather gear, indigenous songs, local boatbuilding methods, the bushman's ballad, bush cooking techniques, the sailor's knotwork it was all fascinating to Ron. He meticulously recorded all these details and methods with a distinctive drawing style that was functional and precise yet relaxed and evocative."
Sadly, Ron died in 2008, but since then, much of his work has been kept and ordered by his daughter, Lee Edwards of Kuranda.
The massive task has given birth to this new retrospective exhibition in May and now Tanks Arts Centre and Mark Thomson are asking the community for stories about Ron and the gallery he operated at Holloway's Beach, or more about his song collecting days.
To this end, a website has been set up at ronedwardsretrospective.wordpress.com and people are invited to leave a comment or tell a story about Ron and his impressive work.
"Despite an immense output of work, very few of Ron's paintings watercolours or prints have ended up in major collections," Mark says.
"For the Tanks show, we're trying to pull in some notable works of Ron's and we don't even know how many there might be or who has them. We do know that there were regular collectors of Ron's work and we would love to hear from them.
Our biggest challenge is how to do justice to the breadth and spirit of Ron Edwards' activities without neglecting one part or another.
"Of necessity, we will only be able to give a glimpse into Ron's extraordinarily rich and vital life.
"But in doing so, we will start the process of giving Ron his due as a brilliant practitioner of the arts and skills he championed.
"A beautiful draftsman and painter, a great teller of stories and a singer of songs, he broke the convention that there was a divide between artist and craftsman or observer and participant."
Leave your comment at ronedwardsretrospective.wordpress.com
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Retrospective: The late Ron Edwards, pictured in his studio in Kuranda in 2006. Photo: Marc McCormack