SHOW READY: Maryke Miller and Laurie Astill have been in the art game for several decades.
SHOW READY: Maryke Miller and Laurie Astill have been in the art game for several decades. Matthew Purcell

Art partnership keeps giving

A LOVE of art, borne from opposite sides of the world, has come together as one for a unique new art show.

Stanthorpe's Laurie Astill and Maryke Miller have teamed up for their fourth joint exhibition.

With Laurie's paintings and Maryke's pottery, their artistry is worlds apart, but the duo say their pieces manage to perfectly compliment one another.

Both their careers can be traced back roughly forty years, but their appreciation for art goes back some time before that.

"The thing that I always remember is standing at my grandfather's house in Holland, in the farm house,” Maryke said.

"He had this beautiful crockery, porcelain. I used to stand there and try and touch it and really admired it and that always stuck in my head.

"Maybe that's where my love comes from,” she said.

For Laurie, it was a mentor that proved to be his early inspiration.

"It would be the teacher I had, a backyard teacher on Saturday afternoons. June Harvey, she inspired me just by what she knew, her knowledge of colour was phenomenal.

"I wasn't ever overly fussed with her art style, but I appreciated what she was trying to do with tonal value.

"At the time I never really understood totally what she was doing until now and I reflect back on it and look at how I paint and see what she was trying to do and that comes out in my paintings now,” he said.

However, his earliest memory pre-dates that, when he won a school art prize. A little 'English' watercolour he crafted in grade 6.

"I can still see it.”

Forging a career focused on art doesn't carry the same reproach it did half a century ago.

"My age group, back then, you were encouraged to get a 9-5 job in the government. Parents did not reflect back that art was a worthwhile pursuit in those days,” Laurie said.

So he did just that. He got a job with Queensland Rail, where he brags to still hold the record as their youngest ever junior clerk to this day.

"I did a little bit of art on and off over that time frame, but nothing special.”

When he set up house in Paddington in the late seventies, he took art jobs on the side.

"Once my son Adam passed away, he was 18-and-a-half, Anna (Laurie's wife) and I reversed roles early in the piece and I became Mr Mum at home.”

While a hard job, caring for his disabled son, it did allow him some time to do art in the latter stages of Adam's life.

A few things proved to be turning points. His daughter helped him snag some art jobs through the Education Department and he undertook a gateway TAFE course that involved ceramics and sculpture.

"That just all opened up a whole new world.”

Then he ventured out of the city and found himself in Stanthorpe. Now retired, he's got a little more free time on his hands.

"You've got the time to do what you want and paint what you want.

"I don't paint for anyone in particular... I don't paint for judges that's for sure.

"Gone are the days where I'd think I can just do another landscape, which you can put a blindfold on and go wop, wop, wop and it's done. There's more thought involved now and greater skill needed.

"But you're always learning - you never stop,” he said.

Maryke's expedition into art began in a similar fashion to Laurie - a backyard tutorial on pottery.

"As soon as I touched clay that was it - I was hooked and basically never looked back.

"I guess after a year of doing those lessons I decided I'd take a job at a pottery supply place in Brisbane to see what they do.”

It was an eye-opening experience, that spurred Maryke to test herself.

"I got my own pottery wheel and a small electric kiln.

"My last child moved out which opened up a whole big area under the house (in Ferny Hills) which I turned into my studio.

"I used to pot after that every day.” From potting daily, to attending markets - her nous and ability grew.

"I picked up a lot of galleries that quite liked my work. My husband John and I went to the Riverside Markets in Brisbane for 19 years.

"Then from there my work went all over the world... Dubai, America - I had regular customers coming from overseas.”

During that time the volume of work she needed to create didn't allow for a lot of experimenting.

"There's been a few times where I've thought maybe I need to give this away... but you touch some clay and can't walk away.

"When we moved to Stanthorpe a whole new world opened up for me.

"I went and saw the then gallery director and asked if they wouldn't mind if they showed some of my works.

"From there I started leaning towards more artistic pieces,” she said.

Over time she forged a friendship with Laurie and the pairing have now held four well received exhibits.

They've also pulled Dean Ford in on the exhibit which is set to run for another couple weeks.

"We had over 100 at the opening. It's always very exciting,” Maryke said.

The duo will hold an art talk at the Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery this weekend where they'll share some insight into their work.

An Art Talk with Maryke Miller and Laurie Astill, Saturday morning from 10am. No RSVP necessary.

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