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Artist scratches surface with intriguing exhibition

By Patrick Nelson

“A Bull’s Story”, one of the works that went on display in What Lies Beneath “A Bull’s Story”, one of the works that went on display in What Lies Beneath

Renowned portrait artist Dr Al Strangeways and spouse Bean have shared their journey into the nature of what lies behind the surfaces of things with an intriguing exhibition in Alice Springs recently.

At one level, the “What Lies Beneath” exhibition contained a series of works in paint and digital media featuring bones, masks, shells, and other objects from the natural, man-made and imagined worlds.

But equally it was an interpretation of how surfaces operate to protect, obscure or reveal.

Education lecturer by day and artist by night, Dr Strangeways said: “I’ve always been interested in exploring the identity of things, and have enjoyed taking a different direction to my usual portraiture to address the conceptual and technical challenges of still life.

“We don’t normally look at a skull and find beauty, but I’ve found unexpected qualities in these things as I’ve been working towards the show.

“We are also both fascinated by masks, as they always prompt that question ‘what’s behind it’? And of course preparing for a joint show on a single theme has really given us an opportunity to talk in different ways about our usually quite disparate work. It’s been a marvellous journey.”