Kerry Bruce: A Floral Fetish

BE IT A PRETTY POSY, FECUND FOLIAGE OR A BEAUTIFUL BOUQUET, KERRY BRUCE’S SUMPTUOUS PAINTINGS OF FLOWERS TAKE ON A LIFE OF THEIR OWN. ERIN IRWIN WRITES.

Kerry Bruce alone could probably support the local flower industry of her area. Such is the power that a bouquet of blooms holds over her. At present, it’s natives and wildflowers tickling her floral fancy. “They have been in abundance in my local florist and I cannot help myself when I arrive to choose my subjects to paint,” she admits. “I usually leave with a huge amount of floral bliss.”

Based on the pristine South Coast of NSW, the artist and director of Gerringong’s Fern Street Gallery finds inspiration in her surroundings, painting from a lofty, light-filled seaside studio. The space is home not just to her solo work, but also to the workshops she regularly runs, where she teaches small groups her signature style involving bold pigment (we’re talking 50 shades of pink!), sensuous application of paint – often with a palette knife – and an all-pervasive sense of joy.

Approaching two decades as a full-time artist, her subjects have included human figures and animals as well, but it is flowers she repeatedly returns to. “I love to abstract my impression of the floral, always working from a still life of blooms,” she says. In these works, colour is intensified, and texture is accentuated. “Shapes and movement are what I am after,” says Kerry, and there’s no doubt she succeeds, with her flowers imbued with such energy and exuberance that they appear ready to burst forth from vases only just containing them.

“Each artwork is a unique creation derived from an intuitive practice that spontaneously evolves from one mark to the next,” says the artist.

Exhibiting in both solo and group exhibitions throughout Sydney, regional NSW, Melbourne and London, fortunately, she shows no signs of tiring of her subject matter. “No matter how many times you paint the vase of flowers in situ, a new interpretation of that beauty evolves.”

Featured artwork: Kerry Bruce, Pink Bliss. Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40cm. Courtesy: the artist.

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