Lew Walsh

Several months ago I attended a Pecha Kucha evening at Dunedin’s Art Gallery. They are always fun evenings and a great way to find out what’s happening about town and who’s doing what and where. One guy had a great presentation and his artwork was terrific. I immediately thought hmmm, Bellamys at Five. So I emailed Lew, explained what the exhibition was about and asked if he would be interested. And his answer? Well let me introduce you to

Lew Walsh

Lew has been painting for less than 10 years and is self taught, although he has studied Design at Otago Uni. Although he has drawn and doodled all his life Lew was told he couldn’t be an artist as a child when he received a diagnosis of mild colour-blindness at age 12. Lew’s interest in music started early and he was lucky enough to follow bands such as Snapper, Straight Jacket Fits and the Verlaines during Flying Nuns golden period in the 80s and 90s. He started playing bass in bands from the age of 17, and moved to Auckland at the age of 21 to follow his passion. In 2002 he moved back to Dunedin to look after his folks and began playing with Tristsan Dingemanns and Heath Te Au in Rollercoaster. Lew always did the posters for his bands.

Seven years ago he did his first portrait of his father who passed away soon after. This sparked an interest in portraiture and paintings of family and friends followed. Having picked up the paintbrush and realising he could use colour it was a short leap to begin painting his friends and fellow musicians. Lew feels that the musicians and artists of our community are the people worthy of being honoured in this way, not just the CEO’s and Business Heads, as it is they who add colour, word and song into our lives and help make Dunedin what it is!

Lew’s favourite artists are Leroy Neiman and Francois Neilly, for their use of colour, old school such as Singer Sergeant and Norman Rockwell, and Jenny Saville and Milt Kobiyashi. Street and pop artist such as Vhils and Shepard Fairey and Voka. He loves to devour images regularly for inspiration.

I’m hoping Lew might come along to Bellamys Gallery for a couple of afternoons while the exhibition is on and just sit himself down and work on a portrait. If I can persuade him, I’ll let you know dates and times.  Some of Lew’s portraits are painted in a realistic style, while others (singers, songwriters and poets) he uses hundreds of song/poem words to create the face.

 Lew says, I can assure you that both Bellamys at Five  pieces will be visually interesting and unique, and with a bit of luck I hope to be able to sell them at the exhibition, crossed fingers! I’m not giving too much away but Lew’s two paintings have been inspired by a Margaret Mahy poem and Jan Hutchison’s poem about Hone Tuwhare.

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