Kate Turner Fairfax @ Liverpool Street Gallery

Kate Turner Fairfax @ Liverpool Street Gallery

Citadel Evening, 2010 oil pastel and oil stick on unstretched linen

Liverpool Street Gallery is now showing Kate Turner Fairfax’s long anticipated solo exhibition, Sentinel, comprising new oil paintings, works on paper and etchings. The paintings are a “realistic depiction of light and atmosphere… capturing something uniquely Australian…”

Meticulously constructed and painted from memory, Turner Fairfax slowly layers veils of oil paint, building up the surface over time, resulting in a rich density of luminous colour. She is an alchemist, spending hours at a time mixing deep blues, warm greens, dusty pinks and golden yellows. Using a palette knife, Turner Fairfax scrapes and cross-hatches back through the surface, not only creating a luscious textured effect, but also revealing the painting’s histories.

Forms and colours recede and emerge, light emanates from the surface and the subtle tonal gradations in the colour fields create fluctuations or shifts for the viewer. The paintings demand considered time from the audience as they draw viewers into the meditative serenity of these sparce and vast compositions, evoking memories of the life of Sydney harbour.

Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix Canariensis) inhabit Kate Turner Fairfax’s latest series of paintings, as sentinels. They are the guardians of Sydney’s Southern Headland. The solitary tree sentinels, witness to the ebb and flow of the tides and the passage of time. These date palms, their trunks scratchy and rough to touch, mimic the textured surface of the paintings, texture created by the tenacious layers of cross hatching in drying oil paint with a palette knife, that has long been KTF’s application technique. The broken surface, refracting light, evoke the impression of palm fronds rustling in the breeze.

Sentinel explores Sydney harbour, specifically the areas around Watsons Bay and South Head. Silhouettes of floating clusters of yachts, glimpses of headlands and strong, weathered date palms evoke memories of the still calm or blustery atmosphere of the harbour at dawn, twilight or at night.

8th Oct – 3rd Nov, 2011
243a Liverpool Street
East Sydney, NSW

KTF has always been drawn to the Watsons Bay area on Sydney harbour, and has now made it her home and studio.

It is the ancient rounded forms of the date palms that have lured her into creative curiosity and elicited this recent body of works. It is a departure from previous paintings, perhaps made brighter in palette and deeper in texture by the arrival of her two small children. This new environment of parenthood has enriched her work and given it renewed vitality; her greens are intensely sage, her yellows vibrantly joyous

Prue Gibson ..   “The artist’s perception of the date palm as an unyielding watchful protector and loyal sentry stems from the visual memory of illustrations from colonial botanical prints, biblical storybooks, legends from faraway lands and Arabian nights. The date palms mark a sensory experience, forever standing nearby through childhood’s languorous summers, solid, reliable and round, stalwarts of psychological safety throughout the generations.

The philosophical perception of roundness is written about by Gaston Bachelard, who understood the basic and reliable nature of the round form. He proposed, “in a phenomenology of imagination, we receive a benefit of elementariness.” Here, the roundness of the date palm is a metaphorical allusion to the repetition of roundness in the natural world, and to the actuality of the eternally revolving sphere of the earth within the universe.”

Sentinel follows on from Turner Fairfax’s succesful exhibitions Harbour (2004) and Evening (2005) at Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney.

“… chart the passages of time, subtle seasonal shifts and the rhythms of the harbour…capturing the timeless and universal continuity of light on water…shimmering rose pinks, saffron yellows… are suggestive of the weft and weave of precious fabrics and of ancient sea voyages made by silk and spice merchants… the paintings’ bands alternate like striations of natural silk fibres, conjuring smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and the taste of sea salt. Her bands of crosshatching echo the rippling waves.” – (Prue Gibson, Evening, catalogue essay, 2006)

Inland Christmas, 2006

About Kate Turner Fairfax

Born 1968 Sydney, Australia

Kate Turner Fairfax completed her undergraduate diploma in painting at the University of California, Los Angeles before achieving her Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Art from the University of New South Wales, College of Fine Art.

After completing a residency at Arthur Boyd’s Bundanon studio in 1997, she exhibited in a number of solo and group exhibitions, notably at the Holmes à Court Gallery, Perth in 2003.

Turner Fairfax is represented in a number of distinguished public and corporate collections including Artbank, The Macquarie Group Collection, Parliament House, Canberra and the Holmes à Court Collection. Kate Turner Fairfax lives and works in Sydney.


1994-95 Masters of Art in Painting, University of New South Wales, College of Fine Arts
1992 Bachelor of Visual Arts, University of New South Wales, City Art Institute
1990-91 Undergraduate Diploma, Painting, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Sole Exhibitions

2005 Evening, Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney
2004 Harbour, Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney
2002 Winter, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
2001 Summer, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
1999 Harbour (and works from the desert), King Street Gallery, Sydney

Selected Group Exhibitions

2008 Melbourne Art Fair, (Liverpool Street Gallery), Melbourne, Victoria
2005 Liverpool Street Gallery 2005, Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney
The Collectors Exhibition, Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney
(Going) Out There, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, University of New South Wales, Sydney
2004 Liverpool Street Gallery 2004, Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney
Melbourne Art Fair 04, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne
2003 Steven Harvey, Peter Sharp, Kate Turner: a tribute to Western Australia, Holmes a
Court Gallery, Perth
The Western Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Fremantle, Perth
Works on Paper, The Delmar Gallery, Sydney
2002 Australian Painting 2002, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney
The Packsaddle Exhibition, New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale
King Street Galleries at Span Galleries, Melbourne
2001 Last Show of the Year, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
Monochromatic, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
Views, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
Floating, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
Bat, Ball and Bush, A Summer of Cricket and Art, Sydney Cricket Ground
2000 Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne
Women and the Landscape, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
Dogma, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
Last Show of the Year, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
1999 Last Show of the Year, King Street Gallery on Burton, Sydney
Scope 1999, Access Printmedia Studio Exhibition, University of Macarthur, Sydney
1998 Geelong Print Prize, Geelong Regional Art gallery, VIC
1997 Tutors Exhibition, Grafton Regional Art Gallery, NSW
Alumni Exhibition, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, Works Gallery, Sydney
Fowlers Gap Exhibition, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, Works Gallery, Sydney
1996 Soliloques, Arthaus Gallery, Sydney
Masters Graduating Exhibition, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, Sydney
1995 Echoes and Reflections, Arthaus Gallery, Sydney
1994 Selected Works, T.A.P. Gallery, Sydney
1993 Two Artists R.O.M. Gallery, Sydney
1992 Works on Paper Show, 10 Taylor Street Gallery, Sydney
Graduating Exhibition, City Art Institute, UNSW, Sydney
1991 Alias, 10 Taylor Street Gallery, Sydney
1990 New Artists, Santa Monica Studios, Santa Monica, Los Angeles


1997 Arthur Boyd Bundanon Trust, Artist Residence, Bundanon


Artbank, Australia
Culwalla Chambers, Sydney
Holmes à Court Collection, Perth
HRa and Associates Collection, Sydney
Key Pharmaceuticals, Australia
Macquarie Bank, Australia
Parliament House Collection, Canberra
Private and corporate collections in Australia, the UK and the USA


2007 Prue Gibson, ‘The Artist and the Dealer’, Australian Art Review, March-June 2007, p.50.
2006 Betsy Brennan, ‘Young at Art’, Vogue Living, March-April, p.66-67, (illus.)
2004 Anon., Vogue Living, July-August, p.179 (illus.)
Anon., Australian Interiors, April-May, p.82, (illus.)
Peter Hill. ‘All together now’, Sydney Morning Herald, Spectrum, 7 – 8 February, p.8
2003 Simon Blond, ‘Paint and Process’, The Western Australian, October
2002 ‘Galleries’, Art & Australia, 2002 Vol 39, No 2, p 129, (illus.)
2001 Courtney Kidd, ‘Critic’s Picks’, The Sydney Morning Herald, Metro, 6 April, p.27
2000 Art & Australia, vol 38, no2, 2000, (illus.)
1999 Sebastian Smee, ‘Getting All Fogged Up’, Sydney Morning Herald, The Galleries, 24
Aug, 1999, p.15
‘The Arts Show’, 2 RES, radio interview, 16 July, 1999

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