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Alan ANNELLS (b.1947)

Alan Annells was born July 1947 in Sevenoaks, a sleepy stockbroker town located 40 kilometres from London. His father ran an electrical contracting business and was a talented engineer. Annells remembers spending hours in his workshop with him involved with lathes, milling machines and other machinery. Alan attributes his affinity with metal sculpture to this early introduction to working with tools and making things. *

Annells enjoyed art at school. His art master, Mr Edwards, was an inspiring educator. Annells and two of his school friends would occasionally meet Mr Edwards on a Saturday morning on the steps of the National Gallery, where Mr Edwards introduced the students to the wonders of renaissance art, in his own time.

After this introduction, Annells was a regular visitor to the great art collections in London, throughout his school and college years. He remembers being particularly blown away by early encounters at the Tate Gallery, London with pop art works such as Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam! and David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash. Since then, the early Los Angeles and New York art scene became a constant obsession. Annells says: “I’m nostalgically drawn back to make paintings featuring iconic scenes in the theatrical and minimalist style”. **

After finishing school, Annells attended Maidstone College of Art, a regional art college in the county of Kent, UK. He graduated with Honours in Graphic Design in 1970. *** His time there, in the late sixties, was an exciting time for the art and design scene and Annells credits it as firing his passion for the visual arts. He was inspired by lecturers that were to become icons of the 21st century: David Hockney taught etching and William Delafield Cook taught art history whilst Quentin Crisp, the infamous life model, was also part of this eclectic 60’s scene. **

After graduating, Annells worked in the advertising industry in London. He moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1970 and continued working in this field. He established Response Design, a multi-disciplined advertising and design studio and consultancy in 1989. He was creative director, shaping the visual direction of many national and international brands. ***

In 2004, he followed a lifetime passion with the visual arts and started to paint and sculpt full-time. *** He opened and ran an art gallery, Artestablishment Contemporary Art, in Armadale, Victoria for 10 years and has delivered exhibition opening talks. *

Annells lives in Melbourne with his wife, Julie. He enjoys sailing his yacht at Sorrento, where he has a holiday home. Annells has travelled widely, including a studio tour of New York and to the Venice and Hong Kong Biennales, as well as visiting the galleries of the UK and Europe most years. * Annells credits the motivation for his work as being “shaped from travel, sailing, architecture and the light-hearted events that make life so stimulating and interesting”. **

Annells has exhibited widely since 2004, including with Artestablishment Contemporary Art, Green-Wood Gallery, Barry Sherman Galleries and Gallery 550 in Melbourne and Soho Galleries in Sydney. His work has been included in the Balmain Art and Craft Show in 2008, the Toorak Village Sculpture Exhibition in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the Toyota Sculpture Exhibition in 2012 and ArtPark Sculpture Exhibition in 2017 and 2018. Annells’s work received a High Commendation at the International Flower & Garden Show in 2012 and he was a Finalist at the V Awards in 2015 and the C Awards in 2021. ***

Annells’s early work centred around painting. His first body of work was a visual comment on our urban life and landscape. The style is realism, with limited modelling and bold graphic imagery. Perspective is precise, but license is taken to balance the structured composition. The rigidity of line creates a stillness, to which the use of bold contrasting colours adds an ominous undercurrent. **

Annells had studied sculpture during his time at Art College and his interest was rekindled after a visit to the Kimberley region during 2010 which he described as “surreal”. The resulting FarWest is a collection of paintings and sculpture that developed as he “came to a crossroad, unable to interpret the landscape in [my] more graphic approach. The highly charged landscape looks barren, but is haunting, inspirational and spiritual”. The recurring circular and elliptical shapes that feature in the FarWest series is a reference to the balanced environment and the setting sun reflecting on the landscape. **

Annells more recent work includes both paintings and sculpture. An extension of Annells early encounter with realism appears in his more current paintings that are highly detailed, with the narrative bordering on dystopian undertones. **

Annells describes himself as “always looking for new directions”. ** His latest sculpture is a collaboration with Robin Stewart, a constructivism painter. The work is based on twentieth-century constructivism art, focusing on the relationship with human forms in popular culture. Cubic figures are sculpted from flat polished and painted steel in abstract geometric shapes. **

Annells’s works are held in various corporate Collections including Ernst & Young Accountants, TVA Partners Chartered Accountants and Transfleet in Melbourne and Medway House in London as well as private Collections throughout Australia and in the UK. ***

* Email exchanges with Alan Annells, Emily Ballinger, 15 and 16 November 2022 ** Alan Annells Biography, Alan Annells, 10 November 2022 *** Alan Annells Profile, Annells Art website, updated 2018


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