I've suddenly dropped back down to earth after a busy period during which my latest book came out. And now, in the weeks and months ahead, I plan to catch up with visiting more theatres, galleries, and shows. So, today when I found I was early for a Christmas date with some old friends, and ~ being near to Trafalgar Square ~ I decided to go and take a look at some art in the National Gallery. 

Heading up the central stairs I was drawn to the Caravaggio posters, but that show will wait for another day. With only half an hour to spare I decided to take a look instead at the exhibition showing work by Australian Impressionists. 

Allegro con brio, Bourke Street West by Tom Roberts ~ 1885-86

What a good decision that proved to be. When I emerged from the gallery into a grey and rainy day my head was swirling with the heat and shimmering colours of gardens, of the bustling life of city streets in Victorian Sydney and Melbourne, of the dusty expanses of ranch lands, or the tunnels that run through mountains where men had mined the age-old rocks to forge the lines for railways.

A Holiday at Mentone by Charles Condor ~ 1888

The work of the artists Tom Roberts (1856-1931), Arthur Streeton (1867-1943), and Charles Condor (1868-1909) may not always be considered great. But, the sophisticated world they show ~ the industrial and urban development ~ is something that surprised me. I couldn't help but feel inspired by the cultural pride and identity in these views of a nation's history. 

John Russell (1858-1930), the fourth artist featured in this show, cast a different spell on me. He had mostly worked in Europe, where he had also been a friend of Van Gogh, Matisse, and Monet. Their influence is obvious, as is that of the French countryside which results in quite a different mood; with a more experimental use of colour and composition. 

I have to say I loved this show ~ so vivid and so dazzling that even a dreary winter's day looked brighter when I re-emerged.  

A Clearing in the Forest by John Russell ~ 1891

Australia's Impressionists is hung in the National Gallery's Sunley Room and will remain there until 26 March 2017.

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