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Lou inspires artists to capture something of home

July 15, 2019

Capturing the essence of artist Lou Anderson would confound any portrait artist. Should it reveal the teacher, the renowned ceramicist, the resilient parent or the 1980s hipster who helped establish galleries and artistic communities in Victoria?

Lou, who moved into Rushall Park in 2017, is all these things and more. She had barely unpacked boxes in her cottage when she put up her hand to help organise the art show celebrating OCAV’s 150th anniversary. A display of art boxes, telling people’s experiences of home, will be exhibited at the Rushall Park Garden Party on Sunday 27 October from 1pm until 4pm.

Born and raised in Tasmania, Lou, who is better known in the art world as Marie-Louise Anderson, moved to Melbourne to pursue demanding careers in ballet and graphic design. One had to give, and although she gave up ballet barres and pointe shoes to pursue her art, she recently returned to the ballet studio and is loving her regular dance classes.

Lou attributes much of her success as an artist to mentors who guided and supported her along the way. Even as a young artist in the 1960s when she was employed in the Audio Visual Aids at Melbourne University to type, draw graphs and make medical drawings, Australian surrealist Eric Thake mentored her.

“I have been incredibly lucky to meet people at each stage in my career who wanted to help me,” she said.

She studied graphic design and in the 1970s she and her husband and fellow artist, Steve, moved to regional Victoria where she established herself as a potter. The Andersons and other artists founded the Ray Riddingtons Gallery in Yackandandah, which became a hub for emerging and established artists and a place to exhibit and sell their own work.

Lou juggled two children, building a mud brick house at the top of the Indigo Valley, studying ceramics at Albury Institute of TAFE with John Dermer and setting up Indigo Valley Pottery in the 1980s. It was a time of great artistic exploration for Lou, but also a time of personal challenges. She continued with her pottery, but was keen to take her art a step further. Lou moved back to Tasmania and in 1998 shecompleted a Bachelor of Fine Arts, First Class Honours at the University of Tasmania, Launceston, followed by a Master of Fine Art by Research in 2001. She later moved back to Melbourne to study and was awarded a PhD from Monash University in 2010, her thesis titled, Land, Hope and Allure: living and connecting to world.

While residents at Rushall Park will get a glimpse of her work at the 150th open day celebrations, many people around the world are familiar with her ceramics and many Australians own a Lou Anderson original.

She has had several exhibitions that included digitally constructed photographic prints, etchings and lithographs, ceramics and large installations. In 2006 she exhibited an installation of 150 ceramic figures, titled Schemes, at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

Lou loves teaching and is still working with students at the Beaumaris Art Group Studios. She has taught ceramics at the Riverina Institute of TAFE, Albury, Box Hill TAFE, Melbourne, University of Tasmania, Launceston and Kyung Hee University in South Korea. She has also worked as a tutor in Art Theory at Monash University. Though she can no longer sit at the wheel and create ceramics because of back problems, she has taken up painting.

“I have never been brilliant at any one thing, but I think I have been successful as a teacher. I love to draw ideas out of people and encourage them to find their own voice in creating their work,” Lou said.

“That’s what I love about the art boxes. People can use them for conceptual or literal interpretations of what home is.”

Come to the Rushall Park celebrations and meet Lou and some of the village’s other talented artists.

Keith White, who had heart surgery two years ago, reckons he’s better now than he has ever been. He puts his state of health and well-being down to the life he has found at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa.

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