"Head frames in Outback Shadows" by John 'Rowdy" Wylie

Nestled in the serene embrace of Port Elliot, on the windswept shores of the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, lies a sanctuary of creativity known simply as The Shed. Here, amidst the salty tang of the sea and the whispering winds, resides the fabulous naive artist known as Rowdy Wylie.

Stepping into Rowdy's realm is like entering another world—a world where vibrant colors dance across the canvas, telling tales as old as time yet as fresh as the morning dew which often appears on the outback landscape.

In each stroke of Rowdy's paint brush you can see the spirit of the outback, often where the rugged landscape of Broken Hill meets the relentless march of the structures of the mines.

Head Frames in Outback Shadows (Outback Broken Hill NSW) by John "Rowdy" Wylie

If we move in closer to the landscape we can see the wonderful textures which are so much a feature of Rowdy's paintings. In this his latest painting the colours symbolise the richness which is waiting to be discovered beneath the red soil of the outback. A wonderful contrast in colours which Rowdy describes as the “deep rich” marvellous colours of light and shadows in outback Broken Hill NSW… with a few engineered “Head Frames”….

Close up view of Head Frames in Outback Shadows (Outback Broken Hill NSW) by John "Rowdy" Wylie

But don't be fooled by the seemingly tranquil yet textured scenes that adorn Rowdy's canvases. Behind every swath of color lies a narrative, rich with the echoes of history and the resilience of the human spirit. The Australian outback is a beautiful but cruel environment and mining is its companion.

Rowdy's visual narratives speaks of hardship, toil and triumph, all set against the backdrop of an unforgiving land that has been both friend and foe to those who call it home.

And so, as we step into "The Shed", we step into a world where art and narrative intertwine, where each brushstroke is a thread in the rich tapestry of life. For Rowdy Wylie, the value of storytelling is as intrinsic to his art as the paint on his palette, and in his hands, even the harshest realities of outback Australia are transformed into something beautiful, something to be cherished and celebrated.

Composition Details:
Title:"Head Frames in Outback Shadows" (Outback Broken Hill NSW)

Medium:Oil on Timber Board

Size:W50cms x H40cms (Framed)


Additional Information:
*This painting is inspired by the wonderful colours of the Broken Hill landscape… encompassing the numerous magnificent mining industry “head frames” dotted across the desert horizons… often highlighted by the marvellous “hot”….red / orange sun-sets… over the red dusty… dry landscape… Once the sun has “set”….. the evening light & shadows “showcase” this amazing land in all it’s glorious colours… truly a painters landscape paradise!!

Tomorrow, Julie is taking us back to the late 1800s to see the paintings of the Australian portrait artist Agnes Goodsir (1864 – 1939) who although living most of her adult life in either England or France, spent two years in her mid thirties (1898 and 99) being educated in art at the Bendigo School of Mines, which is actually a technical school related to the mining industry!

And so it is a natural segue from Rowdy's painting of Head Frames to Agnes because as a very proud Bendigoian I know that Agnes would have seen many poppet heads on the mines (as we call them) in her daily walks around my home town.

Bendigo has always had a rich interest in art and the Bendigo School of Mines no doubt had much influence on this especially, as you will note below, Frank Cusack titled his history of the Insitute Canvas to campus... Here is the Wikipedia entry for the Bendigo School of Mines and yes Agnes Goodsir is listed as one of the notable past students!

The Bendigo School of Mines was established in Bendigo, Australia in 1873 to provide technical education, predominantly for the mining industry.

It was then known as the Bendigo School of Mines and Industries from 1883 to 1959, Bendigo Technical College from 1959 to 1967, and Bendigo Institute of Technology from 1967 to 1975. Its changes of name reflected the broadening scope of the technical education it delivered.

A history of the organisation was published in 1973 – "Canvas to campus: a history of the Bendigo Institute of Technology", written by Frank Cusack.

In 1975 it merged with the humanities focused State College of Victoria at Bendigo (previously the Bendigo Teachers' College) to form the generalist Bendigo College of Advanced Education (1975–1990), which became the La Trobe University College of Northern Victoria on 1 January 1991. This body maintained much academic independence from the greater La Trobe University organisation until the early 2000s.

It is now La Trobe University's Bendigo Campus.

Notable past students
Richard "Dick" Hamilton c. 1875, general manager, Great Boulder Mines
Samuel Prior, c. 1887, later editor and owner of The Bulletin.
John Scaddan, c.1889–1895, later Premier of Western Australia
Edward Heitmann c.1896, later Australian M.P.
John Michael Higgins c.1882, metallurgist
Agnes Goodsir, 1898–1899, portrait painter
E. J. C. Wraith, one of Australia's earliest wireless telegraphy experimenters, 1901

And also in terms of the art culture and art community in Bendigo, let us not forget the famous Bendigo Art Gallery with a world wide reputation for presenting remarkable exhibitions since its birth in 1887.

To conclude with our focus back on Rowdy Wylie ... who at heart I am sure would have liked to be a miner in another life ... in a few days you are going to see Rowdy's work of another kind... he frames people!!!


1. en.wikipedia.org