Exhibition showcases 20 years of artwork

Artist Eileen Ferns in front of her artwork, Scenic Southland, at her exhibition Eileen Ferns Reviewed at the South Alive Community ArtSpace Gallery in South City. Photo: Janette Gellatly

INVERCARGILL-BASED artist Eileen Ferns is exhibiting an assortment of art from her body of work over the past 20 years at the South Alive Community ArtSpace Gallery.

A life member and Southland Art Society past president, Mrs Ferns has been exhibiting her work since 1951.

Now aged 90, Mrs Ferns had recently been encouraged by her many friends to exhibit some of her more recent artworks which demonstrated her wide range of artistic abilities, including pastels, watercolours and acrylics.

An art teacher for many years, both in England and Invercargill, many may remember Mrs Ferns when she taught at Southland Girls’ High School.

She began painting while living in England, aged 10. During her early years, it was the coastlines of Devon and Cornwall which inspired her the most.

After leaving school, she studied full-time at Manchester Regional College of Art, where she passed the National Diploma of Design (Illustration) and was awarded a Teacher’s Diploma.

She then became a full-time secondary school art teacher for 10 years, working in the north of England and the Isle of Man, as well as her home town of Bury in Lancashire, where she joined the Bury Art Society and took part in annual exhibitions.

One of her highlights while teaching was during Queen Elizabeth’s coronation year (1953) when she was living in Derbyshire, helping her pupils learn about and design heraldic shields for knights to use in Shakespeare’s Henry VIplay which was being performed in a local park, she said.

“The heraldic things were really interesting.”

Another was teaching at the convent in her home town of Bury, she said.

A keen traveller, she visited the Channel Islands, Paris, Spain, Corsica and Southern France during the school holidays, where the colour and warmth of the ancient villages and coastal regions of Southern France also inspired her.

She also enjoyed painting Lancashire scenes and local people, and was invited to hold a solo exhibition at the Bury Art Gallery before embarking to live in New Zealand.

Mrs Ferns has continued teaching art, as well as attending art classes in portraiture, etching and ceramic sculpture.

Eileen Ferns Reviewed, South Alive Community Artspace Gallery at the rear of the South City Mall, until Friday, December 14, Monday to Saturday, 10am-2pm.

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