Wendy Talbot | Collection Stories


Story: Bronwyn Clark-Coolee. Artwork: Wendy Talbot, Portrait of Joyce 2018, acrylic on canvas. Fraser Coast Regional Council Art Collection. © The artist.

For local artist Wendy Talbot (b 1954, Maryborough), art has always been part of her consciousness. As she says, "art was always there." Talbot’s mother, an accomplished dressmaker and artist, fostered a home environment where, "we always had crafty things to do, anything creative we were into." While Talbot has "no real formal training" — for her generation, the pathway to art wasn’t clear — this early imprint was nonetheless strong. Once she had established her own family, it re-emerged through the support of community classes and drawing groups. The friendships created with fellow artists, along with the experiences gained through specialised workshops, have been central to the development of her practice.

An early guiding force that emerged through this community of practice was local artist Joyce Bott (1933-2020). It was a relationship that developed into an affectionate and lasting friendship. "Joyce," Talbot remembers, "was very encouraging. She was very passionate about her art … I first met Joyce in the late 1980s through the Mary River Drawing Group. We used to meet on a Monday night in what is now Galleries 3 and 4 of Gatakers Artspace. After the group dissolved, I started meeting with Joyce at her house. Tuesdays became drawing day. At some point however, Wilf [her husband] would always have to go out for his daily coffee. So it eventuated that we combined the two and started meeting at Station Square, drawing people in the café."
Another significant influence has been artist Jo Williams. "Jo always has egged me on to do things. She’s my motivator, my mentor." The ‘Portrait of Joyce’ came about through William’s guidance. "Every year Jo, Joyce and I submitted an entry into the Andrew Fisher Portrait Prize [at Gympie Regional Gallery]. That year, I didn’t know who to paint and it was Jo who asked, ‘Who’s your favourite artist?’"

The distinctive vitality and spirit of Bott’s work is captured to great effect in Talbot’s affectionate portrait. Bott was a founding member of the Maryborough Art Society, a long-time supporter of Gatakers Artspace and a beloved local artist. She is pictured surrounded by her artwork of local Queenslander houses, along with a portrait of her husband, her wonderful hand-built ceramic chooks and her dear cat, Socks Bott. It is a rich and rewarding depiction. Having submitted it into the 2018 exhibition, Talbot reports that she overheard one of the judges remark: "What was this artist thinking? She’s thrown everything into the painting." Nonetheless, the virtue of her approach was recognised as it was awarded 2nd prize.

Portrait of Joyce is currently on display at Gatakers Artspace

Wendy Talbot, Portrait of Joyce 2018, acrylic on canvas. Fraser Coast Regional Council Art Collection. © The artist.