Meet the Locals

Meet The Surf Coast Locals: Artist Kathryn Junor

There’s no doubt that we are blessed to live in an incredibly beautiful part of the world.

For local artist Kathryn Junor, the natural environment of the Surf Coast forms the inspiration for her vibrant contemporary landscape paintings. I caught up with her for a chat about her work.

So, Kathryn, how did you come to be an artist?

I was a graphic designer for about 30 years, I’ve always painted and had some periods where I painted a lot and then not much at all. These last five years, I’ve been on this journey of painting, it started when I got a studio at Ashmore Arts in Torquay.

I had a business in Torquay called Zeally and Cliff, doing art lessons with kids, music and workshops for adults. I did that for a few years, it was a fantastic experience. When that finished, I was lucky enough to get a studio out here at Ashmore. First of all, I just did graphic design here, but being out here really brought me into the landscape. And so that’s when I really wanted to paint more. Ashmore was a real catalyst.

What kind of work do you do?

Contemporary landscapes, oil on canvas. I started off doing the local beaches. The first lot of paintings I did, I made into prints and cards. Even though I still do that, now I’m more focused on doing stuff for galleries, one-offs and commissions.

Tell us about some of your recent work.

Most of the commissions I do come from locals, so I’m familiar with the landscapes, although I have done commissions of people’s favourite beaches that I’ve never visited just using photographs.

I’ve also done commissions for galleries. Last year I was chuffed to be approached by writer and curator Amber Creswell-Bell to be part of a show for Studio Direct – Michael Reid Gallery in Sydney. I hired a boat on the Hawkesbury River and did a series on the Hawkesbury. That was really successful. I’m about to be in another group show at Michael Reid Northern Beaches in July.

I also recently had a solo show at a fantastic gallery called Boom Gallery in Geelong that went down pretty well. For that one, I did a series called Views From Cars. It was COVID inspired, being on the inside looking out.

And you recently painted Bellbrae Hall!

That was a fantastic community project. We got the grant before COVID, so of course, the whole project was put on hold all last year. Then we tried to get some more grant money because we decided we wanted to paint two of the walls instead of just one. We weren’t successful in getting any more money, but I said let’s just do it.

Thinking of selling?
Just researching the market?

I did all the outlines and then a whole lot of people came and helped me paint it. And it was so great. One particular lady, who had been going through a really hard time was there for so many hours, she just loved being involved. That community part of it I just found so nice. We were able to whip it out in three days, where it would have taken me a lot longer on my own. You can see it as you drive down through Bellbrae on the Anglesea Road. It looks really good.

How long have you lived on the Surf Coast?

I moved here in 1993, so I’ve been here for 28 years. I moved down with my one-year-old son, and I rented a house in Jan Juc for the first seven years and then finally bought one in Torquay. Spring Creek is nearby, which coincidentally also runs past where my studio is, further up the valley.

How gorgeous. What makes this part of the world special?

The natural environment is really fantastic. The choice of beaches we have within fifteen minutes is totally amazing. The views from my Ashmore studio and its surrounds, they’re really special. I’m passionate about saving Spring Creek, which is a great big bit of land on the edge of Torquay, we’re fighting at the moment to keep that rural.

I think this area is particularly fantastic for small children. When my son was younger meeting at the beach after school and making new friends down at the beach, that was fantastic.

Sounds like an idyllic Aussie childhood. Thanks for the chat, Kathryn. To see some of Kathryn’s stunning artwork, visit her website.