Nexus Community Gallery exhibitions celebrate nature

Bellingen artist Stephen Leek opens his exhibition at Nexus Community Art Gallery on Sunday, 6 November.

DEPICTIONS of nature as seen through the eyes of Bellingen artist Stephen Leek and Armidale artist Tess Cullen come to Nexus Community Art Gallery at the Old Butter Factory in Bellingen.

‘Paintings by Stephen Leek’ hangs in the Main Gallery and ‘Walking The Land’ by Tess Cullen features in the Studio Gallery.

Tony Gordon Septic Tank & Grease Trap CleaningAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

Both exhibitions open with an all-welcome celebration at 3pm on Sunday, 6 November and run through until 2 December.

Originally from Melbourne, Stephen came to Bellingen in 1993 and studied with artist Ted Hillyer from 1993 to 2003.

“With Ted as a mentor, I was introduced to painters like Max Beckmann and Pierre Bonnard, as well as German expressionism,” said Stephen.

“My practice as a painter is about recognising elements in the landscape and people in nature and seeing them as formal shapes that can be arranged together to make a strong composition.

“I then introduce my own sense of colour to evoke an image that is hopefully poetic.”

Tess Cullen grew up with a high school art teacher as a mother which, for her, meant exploring art around the kitchen table was the norm in her childhood.

“In my teens I travelled the world looking at art, in my twenties I studied painting, in my thirties I discovered pastels and in my forties I found the art of mosaics where I could incorporate the use of recycled materials,” she said.

She has now come full circle and her practice has returned to painting.

“As always, I am inspired by a love of nature and first picked up a paintbrush to express the beauty of our natural environment, from the flowers in our gardens to our stunning landscape and our national parks and in particular trees.

“My art practice soothes my soul and allows me time deep in a space where I let go of the everyday world to focus on a process that absorbs my whole self for a while.”

Living in Armidale, whilst surrounded by fire, living with smoke and driving through burnt-out forests in recent years, a photo taken by work colleague Maria Cotter “captured the devastation that hit our forests”, prompting Tess to start painting it.

“Then I had to paint the regeneration, the epicormic growth common in eucalypts that comes after fire.

“And then more trees and waterfalls caught my attention and became the content of this exhibition.”

Some of the images she captured herself and some are courtesy of those with a passion for photography.

Two works are from images taken locally by photographer Terry Cooke; ‘Sentinel’ captures the power of a solo tree as it towers or stands guard over the landscape and ‘The Roadside’ shows a remnant group of trees, which once would have been amid a forest.


‘At Rest’ by Tess Cullen, from the ‘Walking The Land’ exhibition at Nexus Community Gallery, Bellingen.

Leave a Reply