Solo Exhibition at Anthea Polson Art

October 22 – November 12 2022

View the work online here

Judy Oakenfull’s inaugural exhibition at Anthea Polson Art conveys a deep engagement with the natural world. She describes its coastlines and native flora as the ‘protagonists’ in her paintings. “There seems to be something within that draws us towards the ‘untamed’ coast,” Oakenfull imparts. “My work explores this yearning and aims to capture something of the calming, grounded feeling we derive from being at the ocean’s edge.”

The Murwillumbah-based artist relates that the Wild Coast paintings evolved from an earlier series of botanical works depicting various species of Australian banksia plants and flowers. “Following an exhibition of them at the Tweed Regional Gallery in 2019, I began to focus on the banksia varieties local to Northern NSW and South East Queensland. As these plants are generally found in coastal regimes, it became a logical step to include their surrounds in my current paintings,” Oakenfull explains. “Initially, this took the form of ocean glimpses though banksia leaves, but then expanded to portray the seascape beyond. Other types of coastal foliage were introduced and the ocean itself became a main component.”

Layers of oil paint across the canvases express Oakenfull’s experience of seaside environs. “I appreciate the meditative essence of this medium,” she muses. “Painting allows the time and space to grow a type of intimacy with the subject. It is a meeting of observed components and one’s inner self.” Oakenfull tells that visual interconnections developed between the ocean and the flora she was depicting. “The blue of the sea and the yellows of the flowers are almost complimentary colours, each one intensifying the other and giving resonance to the paintings. Vegetation and panorama are equally important aspects in the works, neither one is the dominant element.”

A thoroughly contemporary approach to the seascape genre is evidenced in her carefully balanced colours and subtly geometricised forms. Imagined topographical features are often included for compositional fulfilment. Sweeping crescent shapes invest several of the paintings, Paradisiacal Yearnings being a prime example. Here the shoreline’s distinctive arc correlates with the overt curvature of grassy landforms and distant hill. The positioning of pandanus and banksia trees encourages the viewer’s eye to circle the work and find immersion amidst the horizon’s shimmering light.

Oceanic Inflorescence has a similar contemplative ambience. Warm-toned crescents band the sky above the headland. Round hillocks harmoniously grace the foreground and counterpoise the horizontality of sea and small, ochre strip of sand. Prominent yellow banksia flowers stretch up in seeming salutation. It is a consummate composition emanating a sense of wholeness and integration.

In part, Oakenfull credits her remarkable facility of synthesizing landscape and botanical detail to the couple of years she spent in Japan after completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at VCA. “There I became well acquainted with traditional and contemporary Japanese aesthetics and pictorial devices. Ukiyo-e artists, such as Hokusai and Hiroshige, were of particular inspiration.” European Post-Impressionists are also cited as having influenced her art making with their unconventional and imaginative responses to the vistas they observed.

“During current times, the wild coast is ever more important in its offering of a spacious and restorative respite from crowded cities and busy lives,” Oakenfull opines. “I feel that as a society, we are undergoing a cultural shift towards a greater respect for nature and the environment. Acknowledgement of a coastal site’s history and pertinent reclamation are now also in evidence. I hope my work can reflect and celebrate this change.”


Ordinary Love 12 – 26 August

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This month I am organising a group painting exhibition at The Field, Artist run space at M-arts in Murwillumbah. This is an exhibition of fabulous observational painters from the region, focusing on Still life, interiors, yard scenes and local views. The exhibition celebrated the way painting can elevate the ordinary with relevance to lockdown experiences and the ordinariness of home.

Participating painters are Tamsin Ainslie, Phil Barron, Narelle Bretherton, Sharon Mcillwain, Andrew Hmelnitsky, Trish Tait, Jenny Sayer and myself.

The Field is at Studio 4 in the M|Arts Precinct. Crn Proudfoots lane and Brisbane St Murwillumbah.

Exhibition hours are Weds – Fri 10 – 5 and Sat & Sun 10 – 1.



I will be exhibiting some oil paintings of gumnuts found on the footpath outside my house.


Banksia Hunting – South West WA

As Banksias become a major feature in my painting, I realised a trip to South Western WA would be required. Of 122 species of Banksias and Dyandras, WA has all but 14. I looked at airfares to Perth a lot, but never went through with a purchase. Having never been to WA before, I had mythologised the landscape and the flora in my mind and getting the plane didn’t quite seem to cut it in my imagination. There was also the expense of accommodation to consider and the challenge of making artwork on the road.

In the end a 1996 Diesel VW tranporter was the answer, and with my trusty little terrier companion I set off into the outback. There was fear. There was caution being thrown to wind. There were a few hiccups at the start, but all up, the road journey to WA was as fabulous as I thought it would be. I loved the changing climate from the East coast the West. I loved driving via Wilcania and Broken Hill in NSW in spring through incredible light rain with wildflowers lining the sides of the highway. I loved getting in the ‘zone’ driving on the Nullabor, after a few hours of driving where it became quite mediative and dreamy. I loved the openness and the expanse. I loved the strong orange red soil colour contrasted with the green grey tones of saltbush. I loved the eucalypts of the Great Western Woodland, after passing the WA border. And I loved that thrill of each movement forward being into a relative unknown, travelling relatively slowly to a places I had never been before.

The Van and the Dog.

The road trip

Some amazing Banksias from Kings Park, Perth

And from the South West.


An exhibition of four local artists at the M-arts Upstairs gallery in Murwillumbah.

Exhibiting alongside local artists Phil Barron, Belinda Smith and Scott McDougal



From August 2018 to August 2019 I rented a funky container studio at the M-arts Precinct in Murwillumbah. It was great to part of such a vibrant arts community for a year.



Botanical Bazaar – Exhibition Sept. 16 2018

Botanical Bazaar Image collage.jpgThis September I will be putting together an exhibition of Contemporary Botanical Art for the Botanical Bazaar Event on the Gold Coast. You can read more about the exhibition and the Artists involved here.

Contemporary botanical art, for this exhibition, is defined as art that responds to the botanical and natural world or peoples interactions with it.

It may be inspired by and respond to traditional botanical art, but may also include more Contemporary artistic techniques and concepts.

It may or may not be interested in traditional concerns of botanical artists . A scientific representational approach may be taken, but other approaches may also be embraced. Contemporary art or conceptual approaches may be explored. Modern art may be admired and extended upon (especially the Still Life tradition). Ecological perpectives may underline some of the work. Nature may just be represented or it could be considered as co-artist.

Postcard Show – Case Mullumbimby

I was really happy with these small works I did for the Postcard Show in Mullum. I did these quite quickly after a week or so of painting more detailed Grevilleas. It was actually at the end of an 8 hour painting session, where I was was able to ‘let go’ entirely. Though I know I would not have had nearly the same result without having painted the Grevilleas more realistically beforehand.