Guido Maestri: Stories From Homedale

12 November 2021 – 9 January 202Guido-Maestri_The-fire-after-the-flood-part-I-and-II-banner.jpgImage: Guido Maestri, The fire after the flood, part I and II, 2021 
Photograph by: Mim Sterling

Guido Maestri (or Guy as he has also been known) was born in Mudgee in 1974. He grew up at Homedale, a Federation property set on four acres of vines in Eurunderee, north of Mudgee. He has strong memories of his childhood in the region when his father, Anthony, established the first unisex hair salon in Mudgee and his aunt and uncle owned the French restaurant Bijou, which is warmly remembered by locals for its fine dining and live music.

Upon leaving school, Guido began a career as a shipwright however the call to formally study art became too loud to ignore and he enrolled at the National Art School, Sydney in 2000. Already an accomplished draftsman, he honed his painting skills and during his honours year was offered his first solo exhibition in Sydney. His life changed dramatically after winning the prestigious Archibald Prize in 2009 with his portrait of blind Aboriginal singer, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. In 2013 he won the Premier’s Plein Air Painting Prize and in 2014, the Kings School Art Prize. He is regularly a finalist in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW and his work features in nearly all major art collections in Australia.

The artworks exhibited at Mudgee Art Precinct’s inaugural exhibition were a significant departure from the artist’s more realistic landscapes. Some of the artworks were started in his typical en plein air style, painted outside at a farm in Riverlea by the banks of the Cudgegong River. They were then reworked in the artist’s studio and the final paintings were embedded with nostalgia and memories of growing up in Mudgee, both real and imagined. The iconic children’s book The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek and its highly detailed illustrations have also heavily influenced the artist. The theme of the river and water is integral to the exhibition, typified by the thickly-painted, surging brown river. This whimsical and exuberant exhibition comprise some the largest paintings produced by Guido and were created specficially for Mudgee Arts Precinct’s first exhibition.

“I spent my childhood in Mudgee in regional NSW, and was asked to hold the inaugural exhibition at the town’s new gallery, the Mudgee Arts Precinct. I’ve been returning to paint there for a decade, and started this series of large-scale works en plein air by the Cudgegong River. When lockdown hit, I was forced to finish them in my Sydney studio, where they became infused with memory and imagination”. 1

 1 Guido Maestri, Good Weekend Saturday 24 October 2021