Adrienne Hmelnitsky is one of nine local artists currently exhibiting in ‘Choice Cuts’- the pop-up free range art exhibition in the old butcher shop in Urunga. This bronze sculpture, “Unity”, features in the current exhibition. The exhibition came about because another of the exhibitors, Gethin Coles, was approached by Bellingen Council to put together a group of local artists to transform and utilise the space that had been vacant for quite some time. The result is an eclectic mix of styles and art forms. We chat to Adrienne Hmelnitsky about her art and life in the shire.
Adrienne was born in Sydney into “an artistic environment.” Her parents and grandparents were all classical musicians and Adrienne can’t remember a time when she wasn’t drawing. However, her true passion early on was gymnastics. “Gymnastics was my world between the ages of eight and thirteen.” She was actually NSW state champion until injuries saw her retire from the sport. However, the one constant in Adrienne’s life has been art. In her teens she attended various community art centre classes and a little later Julian Ashton Art School in the Rocks. During the late 80’s Adrienne was living in Yamba where she studied fundamental art and design short courses at Maclean Tafe, before moving onto full time studies back in Sydney at Meadowbank Tafe. After this she started exhibiting as a practicing artist.
Adrienne had been visiting the Bellingen Shire for years, seeing friends and attending the Global Carnival, when the desire to be out of Sydney resulted in a permanent shift. “I am calmer and more inspired by having a closer connection to nature than was possible in the city. Moving up to the shire has helped to totally reactivate my art practice.”
Adrienne’s work is characterised by a mix of mediums and art forms. Her pieces in the current exhibition include drawings, collage works and sculptures. Her approach to her work is also varied, “I tend to bounce between a very spontaneous and intuitive response when working directly with the figure, in contrast to a more considered development of ideas for sculptures. These may boil around in my head for some time before I select materials or processes for each work.” However, when asked about a favourite medium, Adrienne admits “drawing underpins all that I do.”
Variety is certainly a key element of Adrienne’s life. Along with her art practice, Adrienne also teaches art and is a Rotai Therapist. “I really love teaching. Sharing my knowledge and seeing the students work blossom is very rewarding.” She teaches ‘Life Drawing’ at Camp Creative. The course is open to all ages, which can create a lively dynamic in the classroom. “I’ve had students as young as thirteen(with the consent of parents for those under eighteen as the models are naked), right through to students in their eighties.” Her role as a therapist came about because of her search for a solution for her own injuries. “When I find a treatment that makes a big difference in managing pain I like to learn it and share it.” Rotai is a form of Body Therapy which “focuses on ligament alignment, muscle release and activation, along with stimulating meridian flow to alleviate pain and blockages. I give treatments from my home or I can make house calls.”
So where to from here. Adrienne has now embarked on a Diploma of Furniture Design and Fabrication at Coffs Harbour Tafe, having completed a Certificate IV last year. “The teachers, facilities and equipment are fantastic. I’m expanding and developing my skills and knowledge in joinery processes and machinery along with a plethora of products and applications to incorporate in future sculptures.”
Adrienne is also cherishing the opportunity to show her work with so many talented artists in this new space. All of the artists involved are hoping that the Urunga Pop up Gallery remains a permanent fixture in the township, a space where a variety of art classes can be offered and art events can be staged into the future.
Choice Cuts includes: Photography and short films by Gethin Coles, Assemblage Sculptures and Short Film by Nick Warfield, Oil Paintings by Christine Wilson and David Southgate, Printmaking by David Bromley, Graphite Drawings and Sculptures by Paula Whiteway, Pastels and Paintings by Gail Cardow, Button Mosaic Art by Sandy Brennan and Drawings, Collage Works and Sculptures by Adrienne.
“The Artists of the Urunga Pop up Gallery are very grateful for being offered this space and welcome the support of the community as we aim towards a permanent Art Space in Urunga.”
If anyone is interested in being on their mailing list or is interested in art classes there is an ‘Expressions of Interest’ list at the Urunga Pop up Gallery to which they can add their details. The gallery can be found in the old butcher shop, corner of Bowra and Bonville Streets Urunga, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm. More examples of Adrienne’s work can be found here. There is also a new Facebook page for the Urunga artists ‘The Art Space’.
A link has been established for people to have their say and support the Urunga artists as they move towards keeping the space into the future as an active, living arts space for the community. Click here for details.