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Historical Inspiration

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  • Kerry-Anne Blanket
  • 12/08/2021

A fresh new series of traditionally sized 9×5 inch en plein air works by Sally West have arrived at KAB Gallery. Inspiration has been drawn from the history and experiences of some of Australia’s best landscape artists. The paintings are full of light, beautiful texture and are available now at my Terrigal and Sydney KAB Galleries.

Cruising at Berry’s Bay (6.5.20) – Plein Air

Plein-Air (in the open air) refers to the practice of painting outdoors, in direct engagement with nature. It was coined by the French impressionists over 100 years ago to describe painting outdoors, capturing natural light and atmosphere in the landscape, and translating those elusive qualities with paint to surface.

In Australia this tradition was introduced by the Heidelberg School artists (from 1890s) such as Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Charles Conder and Louis Abrahams. Many of the paintings were referred to as “9 by 5s”, as they were often painted on compact and manageable 9inch x 5inch cigar box lids provided by Abrahams whose family imported cigars. It was a convenient, compact and affordable canvas on which to work. The artists visited various locations across Sydney and Melbourne including Berry’s Bay, Mosman Bay, Mentone and Box Hill.

Mentone,, VIC by Tom Roberts, oil on cigar box lid, 1888.

Sally West aims to honour this fine Australian tradition by visiting iconic Sydney vantage points to paint 9×5 sized artworks (23cm x 13cm, approx). The inspiration she has drawn from the dimensions of these historical works along with their Impressionist style and the experience of painting en plein air really shine through in this special series. Instead of using cigar box lids to paint on, she opts for a sophisticated conservation grade paper designed for oil painting. Some works are framed in simple elegant white frames, while others are professionally mounted under card ready for you to frame to suit your particular décor.

Sally West is a traditional en plein air painter who paints from life. She travels to the best locations and vantage points to find the perfect scene. Her experience of the outlook, weather, light and distance from the subject are captured perfectly in her work.

Below and in the Related Products section of this article are a selection of her 9 by 5’s – All available now at KAB Gallery and priced from $395.


Sail Boat at Berry’s Bay Study – Plein Air

Beach Manly Study 2 (4.3.21) – Plein Air

Beach Manly Study 4 (4.3.21) – Plein Air

Berry’s Bay Study 2 – Plein Air

Boat Shead at Berry’s Bay Study – Plein Air

Due to the 2021 Covid-19 restrictions imposed on NSW residents, Sally West has been limited for travel. Several new locations have been explored within the areas she is permitted to work plein air, including Newport, Narrabeen, Freshwater View Reserve and more. Works from this time will be available early 2022 when dry enough for exhibition and preview catalogues are available now. Contact KAB Gallery Director, Kerry-Anne Blanket via [email protected] for more information.

Kerry-Anne Blanket, Director & Curator - KAB Gallery
About the author

Kerry-Anne Blanket

Director & Curator - KAB Gallery

KAB Gallery’s Kerry-Anne Blanket holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts and two Masters degrees (Hons) from the University of Sydney. With an extensive career in art education along with the management of museums and investment art galleries, Kerry-Anne can offer premier art consulting to her clients and source specially requested works. 

She has a keen eye for detail, comprehensive art market knowledge and a love of all things beautiful. Kerry-Anne works directly with artists and collectors alike to curate interesting and eclectic exhibitions.