The Working Shed – 2020 Exhibition

A photo of Christine Porter standing in front of the first wall of her exhibition in Gympie in March2020. The text on the wall above her head says "the Working Shed" "Christine Porter" and there are two of the four paintings below, visible.


When this exhibition was touted a year ago, as a direct result of the
Radio National interview with Ed Ayers, it seemed that everything would go along as planned. This is my 39th solo show, it should have been straight forward. In fact, the systems in place, and the experience of the team at the Gympie Regional Gallery, made the preparation for this show one of the easiest ever.

I didn’t, however, anticipate suffering an eye injury late January, right at the time allocated for a new body of work about the current gender equality in the sheds. Paintings and drawings of a female shearer and shed-hands were curated out before they were even created.

Nor, like the rest of the world, did I anticipate the Coronavirus. The exhibition was hung the week before the Australia closed down. I am grateful to everyone at Gympie Regional Gallery for the attention to detail that meant that the exhibition is sitting there, perfectly presented, doing the Marie Celeste tango, all alone. 

Hence this page.

If you didn’t get to Gympie, and I know so many of you wanted to, then you can see it here. It’s not going to have the same impact as a hands-on gallery visit, nor as many bubbles as an official opening. But I wanted to share it with you anyway. Perhaps this way more people will see it? Perhaps the stories this show has to tell needed a wider audience than simply those who could get there in person?

For whatever reason, here it is. Enjoy.

My thanks to the current owners of several of the works in the exhibition who have lent them back for the duration. Likewise my thanks to the staff and volunteers of the Gympie Regional Gallery for all your excellent work.

Christine, Lismore,  March 24, 2020




The Gallery Installation

The Artwork

Which Shearing Shed is That?
Paintings in this exhibition are from recent series about sheds on the New England, and Queensland. They include: Timber Built about the “Boorolong” shed, near Armidale, The Hundredth Shearing Shed (“Deeargee”, Gostwyk, Uralla), Painting “Newstead” (“Newstead” Inverell), Formerly “Belah” (“Bundanoon” Texas), and The Deepwater Project, which includes Sheep of the New England

Colour Variations
The paintings on this page were photographed at different times so there are variations in the quality and colour cast of the photos. If you’d like to see different files of any painting contact me. 

The paintings are framed traditionally or presented in artist-made Perspex boxed frames. Either can be kept as is, or your framer can easily take them apart to be framed differently. I’m happy to take artwork from frame and ship it matted. However,  we’d need to talk on the phone to change price. Approx difference for large frames is $200 (small $50), for perspex $50 (small $20).

How to Buy an Artwork 
Most of the work in this exhibition is still available. Until Anzac Day the gallery will be organising any sales. We will be working together so if you’d like to check on anything, to purchase, or organise a laybye, contact either of us by phone or email. Gympie Regional Gallery: 0754810733 email contact  or Christine Porter: 0407170471  email contact

Download the exhibition room-sheet catalogue or read the artist statement at the end of this page. 

Large Works

full sheet sheet of watercolour paper is 76x56cm.  Work in this series is close to this full sheet size, as well as variations on half sheet strongly horizontal, which is one of my preferred formats. There is only one vertical painting in this exhibition, which is about on a par. All the large works are framed in white or lime-washed timber frames. 

Click on any image to open slideshow. 

Square works

I like working square, and I like working small. For many artists, even the work in this section would be considered “small work”. For me, I start by drawing up most to fit in a mat 20cm square. Often the image makes other decisions though. The paintings in this series are one of three main sizes – 20x20cm, 25x25cm, 27x29cm, 16x16cm, and one or two ring-ins. Most of these paintings are framed in the custom Perspex frame. 

Click on any image to open slideshow. 

Small Works

These paintings are all 10x10cm, presented in artist-made Perspex frames measuring 19.5 x 21 x 2.3cm. 
Click on any image to open slideshow. 

Artist Statement

My paintings are about the architecture, and how the buildings relate to the landscape: buildings  that are purpose built for activity. During shearing it’s a bustling, efficient place. There are people, machinery, dogs and sheep all rattling around noisily, at top speed.

However, even in their absence, when the sheds are silent, there’s an echo of those who’ve worked there before.

Many of the sheds I visit are old, so my practice has an historical element. Much about sheep and shearing is similar to the golden years when Australia’s wool warmed the world. People working the sheds in 2020, aren’t just carrying on a tradition for tradition’s sake. They are part of a vital, energetic, current industry that is continuing to move forward.

 Sheep and wool production has evolved. Selective breeding has resulted in sheep with different characteristics, needing different handling. Sports shearing celebrates the athleticism in an industry still dependent on the strength of a shearer’s back. Women, once banned from the board, now represent close to half the workers in the sheds.

Every shearing shed painting I’ve ever created is about those who’ve peopled it, even if they weren’t in that picture at that time. Every shed I make artwork about is a working shed, even those now in disuse.

Thank you

Thank you to the Gympie Regional Gallery for all their hard work getting this show here. The installation photos on this page are theirs, used with their permission. Thank you to my framers – Moree Frame and Art in Moree, and Armistead’s Framing in Lismore. Thank you to my Lismore back up team – you know who you are – I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you to my out-of-town back up team – those phone calls and texts were lifesavers. 

We are living in unusual times, so thanks to all of you who continue to follow my work, and include me in your lives. Some of you have been with me since that first exhibition at Gunya Crafts back in 1990. Who would have thought, back then, that this would be what the art world would look like now. 

I look forward to seeing you all out there in the real world soon. Until then, stay safe, and enjoy having a good long look at what I’ve made for you. Take care.