Shadowing Tom – “Newstead” Inverell 2015-16

Title : Shadowing Tom
Artist: Christine Porter
Place: Inverell Art Gallery  5 Evans St Inverell.

Dates: February 25 – March 26
Opening event: 5pm Saturday February 25
$10 entry with cash bar operating. For catering please RSVP to the gallery
Closing weekend: The Opera in the Paddock is the same weekend so the gallery will be open on Sunday 26th until 2pm. Join Christine for a glass of champagne or lunch ( from midday: bar operating, lunch available) to celebrate the closing of this exciting exhibition.
Opening times: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm Sat 10am -1pm Sun closed except for the last weekend (March 26) where it will be open 10am-2pm
Extra activities: Watercolour classes: Christine will be teaching a watercolour class the Thursday and Friday before the closing weekend – 23-24th March, which can be taken as one day or two day. Contact Christine for more information. Weekend residential art workshop will be held in the woolshed on a property near Tenterfield the weekend of March 11. More details contact Christine

Short exhibition description
An exhibition of paintings, drypoint etchings and mixed media work about the shed at “Newstead” where Tom Roberts painted ‘The Golden Fleece’ 120 years ago. Also included will be 30 paintings from projects about other shearing sheds across the New England and Queensland.

More details This is a series of paintings of the two shearing sheds at “Newstead” near Inverell on the northern tablelands of New South Wales. The original shed was made famous 120 years ago when Tom Roberts, who was a regular visitor to the property, used it as the basis for his large painting “the Golden Fleece”. This painting was also called “Shearing at Newstead” which is why, one day about twenty years ago, I recognised the name and wondered firstly if it was that same “Newstead” or indeed if making artwork about this could be an option. For years it was in the back of my mind. I heard rumours that it was a Victorian shed, I imagined exhibitions, opportunities. An invitation to show at the Inverell Gallery was the perfect opportunity to follow a dream.

To prepare for this exhibition, I spent several days late 2014 drawing on site at both the original shed and the “newer” shed. I did prep drawings for what would be ultimately result in 30 watercolour paintings of both sheds – a major body of work.  It was hot and quiet in the old shed. It hadn’t been used for a number of years. I didn’t see the ghost I’d heard about, but I was conscious that this was more than just a shed. I was very aware of the importance of this shed in the pantheon of shearing shed paintings. And at the same time, I was aware that it didn’t look the way it did in Tom Roberts’ time.

From that recurring thought came a second body of work about the experience of painting on site – how the view of this particular shed has been informed for 120 years by one particular painting. But how the act of sitting down and drawing what I was seeing was changing how I saw both this site, and how I saw his painting. So I chose ten images from my sketchbook to draw onto perspex sheets. By scratching the surface with an engraving tool, dremmel and sandblaster some areas on the sheet became opaque. I then constructed boxes with this perspex drawing as the face of the box. On the back wall of the box I placed a postcard of “the Golden Fleece” so the audience is literally looking through my drawings to see his image. It is such a famous image, and we are so used to seeing it in it’s entirety. Subverting what was being seen – to allow my version of that place to inform how the original work is seem- lets me notice different parts of the image, but it also described the decay of an understanding, how time is itself a filter.

Before I made the boxes I printed from the engraved surface. creating a small edition of each of the ten images. In this exhibition they will be installed with the parent work, but they’ve already been exhibited in their own right out of context, away from this place. For me it became about how we are distant from the Tom Robert version of sheep and shearing, and even of making art. So distant that eventually it really will be simply an academic exercise. The world won’t exist that way any more. We can’t ever relate to that image the way he intended. We, the audience, if we are in the sheep and wool industries or not,  or if we are artists or not, can only ever read what we are seeing in relation to our own lives. And those lives are so very far away from the version of grazing and art-making that he represented for us, and growing more so.

The painting “The Golden Fleece” is now on permanent show at the New South Wales Art Gallery.  I visited it there, but the exciting part of the off-site research was being allowed access to  Tom Roberts’ actual sketchbooks at the state library. It was an astonishing experience to see and handle the small books that he used to prepare his major works. I went to Canberra too, to the blockbuster exhibition there at the National Gallery, though it was a smaller work at the National Portrait Gallery that rounded out my experience for me.

This is a series that is years in the making. From the initial idea twenty years ago, to the first tentative approaches made to the current owners to get their permission to create this work. From the few days on site which was followed by nearly 6 months of painting and another two solid months developing the mixed media work, this project has been an important part of my own development as an artist. I painted my first shearing shed in 1984. Thirty years later I was sitting in one of the most famous shearing sheds in the history of Australian art. It would take another two years before the artwork would be  completed and another six months before it would be exhibited to the public. This is a career exhibition.  The title of this show is about how the word shadowing means following, but it also means living under his shadow. Sometimes it feels that every shed painting I paint references the work of Tom Roberts. Have I been living in his shadow, or shadowing him?

This is an opportunity to  invited you to the Inverell Art Gallery in February 2017 to help me celebrate the official launch. 5pm Saturday February 25th 2017 $10 entry, cash bar. RSVP to the gallery. (Contact us if you know of anyone who would like a personal invitation from Christine) The exhibition continues for a month, finishing at 2pm Sunday 26th March  coinciding with the popular “Opera in the paddock” weekend.

Artist photos and other promo photos for this project

Full size files available. Please contact Christine .
Click on each picture to see full image – all photos by the artist, except the first which is by Elspeth Berger  IMG_2274

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Other writing about this work


Artist statement that went with the etchings to Blackall this year.  Shadowing Tom Etchings Drypoint etchings framed in Perspex boxes

These drypoint etchings are part of a body of work entitled Shadowing Tom, from drawings Christine made on-site at “Newstead” near Inverell. It’s a body of work about the implications of the visual heritage of Tom Roberts, who painted “the Golden Fleece” there 120 years ago. The series includes paintings of the shed, some mixed media works and a suite of drypoint etchings. These 4 works are selected from this suite of drypoints. Installing them in a place geographically distanced from the original site, and separated from the other work that makes up the exhibition, further emphasizes the way art can be both of one place whilst simultaneously belonging everywhere.

Other publications
The Australian Artist Magazine
issue 392 February 2017
8 page feature

Border Living
December 2016
article and photos

Verandah Magazine
February 2017 (Digital magazine)
article and photos
read article 

The Art of watercolour
international watercolour magazine
6 page feature
March edition. Published in French and English.


Opening Function – February 25 2017

Click on thumbnails to see full image – photos to be uploaded soon


Available Artwork – the old shed

Several paintings from this part of the series and of the new shed, have sold into collections in NSW and Qld.

" The Old shed from the east" 2015 watercolour on paper 63x18cm
” The old shed from the east” 2015 watercolour on paper 63x18cm
“Brown gate” 2015 watercolour on paper 29x27cm
“Two gates” 2015 watercolour on paper approx 29x27cm
“Horizon view” 2015 watercolour on paper 63x18cm
“Blue gate” 2015 watercolour on paper 16x16cm
“Two races” 2016 watercolour on paper 50x48cm SOLD
“Corrugated iron” 2015 watercolour on paper 16x16cm
“Engine room” 2015 watercolour on paper 20x20cm
“The empty board” 2015 watercolour on paper approx 16x16cm SOLD
“Central alleyway” 2015 watercolour on paper 74x54cm SOLD to an art collector from London who saw it in the international watercolour magazine “The Art of Watercolour” which also published in French as  l’Art de l’Aquarelle and distributed across Europe.


Available Artwork – the new shed

“Dusk” 2016 watercolour 70x44cm SOLD
“Engine room” 2016 16x16cm SOLD
“Hand piece” 2016 watercolour 20x20cm
“Hanging on the press” 2016 watercolour 20x20cm Highly Commended Aspects Art Show Goondiwindi 2017
“New shed from the east” 2015 watercolour 45x14cm
“New shed” 2016 watercolour 63x18cm SOLD
“Newstead” 2016 watercolour 74x54cm SOLD This was the key painting for the “Shadowing Tom” exhibition in Inverell in 2017, being the invitation image as well as the main image used for other advertising. in 2016 it was awarded the ‘In and around Inverell” award in the gallery’s annual competition.



“Oilcan” 2016 watercolour 16x16cm
“Shed and silos” 2015 watercolour 45x14cm
“Single stand” 2016 watercolour 16x16cm
“Std pcs” 2016 watercolour 16x11cm
“Press from the board” 2016 watercolour 16x16cm SOLD
“western view” 2015 watercolour 38x14cm
“Two trees at the shed” 2015 watercolour 16x16cm SOLD

Available Artwork – Shadow Boxes (mixed media)

These are some photos of the Shadow Box series of mixed media works. They are engraved perspex boxes, with gallery postcard. Size: 15x19x5cm
There are ten boxes in the series, with the exhibition presentation of these including the engravings printed from the front surface of the box.
Christine is happy to consider expressions of interest for items in this series, on the proviso that they be available for exhibition in February.

Click on the thumbnail to see full image.

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Available Artwork – Shadowing Tom (printed engravings)

“Two skulls” 2016 drypoint 18.5×14.5cm edition:10
“This one’s for you Tom” 2016 drypoint 18.5×14.5cm edition:5
“The golden fleece” 2016 drypoint 18.5×14.5cm edition:10
“Looking in ” 2016 drypoint 18.5×14.5cm edition:10
“Once were yards” 2016 drypoint 18.5×14.5cm edition:5
“The empty board” 2016 drypoint 18.5×14.5cm edition:5
'locked' 2015 drypoint 18.5x14.5cm. Highly commended Open Section Mitchell Art Show 2016
‘locked’ 2015 drypoint 18.5×14.5cm. Edition:5 Highly commended Open Section Mitchell Art Show 2016
‘gates’ 2016 DRYPOINT 18.5×14.5CM EDITION: 5.

Selected Archive

These painting have been sold into private and corporate collections across Australia


“Old shed from the north” 2015 watercolour 70x28cm SOLD
“looking out” ( new shed) 2016 watercolour on paper 44x38cm ON HOLD
“one race” (old shed ) 2016 watercolour on paper 44x38cm ON HOLD
“looking south” (old shed) 2016 watercolour 44x38cm ON HOLD
“wool room” (old shed) 2016 watercolour on paper 74x54cm SOLD