A local artist who didn’t touch a paintbrush for 43 years and began painting seriously only five years ago, has been selected to exhibit her works alongside the Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery’s Collection when the gallery reopens after COVID-19 this month.
Lorraine Moll, who works from her home studio in College Road, Stanthorpe, specialises in atmospheric landscapes and seascapes featuring clouds, often with approaching rain and mist.
Gallery Director Mary Findlay aptly chose ‘Cloudland’ as the name of the exhibition, which has a soft opening on June 25 and the official one on July 11 so as to enable 50 people to attend for the first time after attendance restrictions are further eased the day before.
“Lorraine has a lot of artistic talent, she’s local and because she specialises in clouds it seemed appropriate to name this first exhibition in the reopened gallery after that former iconic building in Brisbane that was a dance hall where many of Brisbane’s youth met , fell in love and danced the night away. The building was sadly demolished in the 80’s and like the ever-changing clouds, the Brisbane architectural landscape has also changed,” said Ms Findlay.
Born in 1944 the only child of Walter and Louisa Witt in Hawthorne, Brisbane, Lorraine loved drawing and colouring from an early age. At Cavendish Road State School in Coorparoo she excelled at English and Art and after moving to Sydney in 1961 with her parents, started a job one day after leaving school in the David Jones’ advertising department as a layout artist.
Ten years later she left to have her only child, Elissa, and remembers having a creative burst during pregnancy, during which she painted only portraits. From 1972 to 2015 Lorraine did not paint, moving during those years between Sydney and Melbourne while raising her daughter and working various jobs, the happiest of which was 12 years as Merchandising Manager for the Australian and New Zealand subsidiary of the world renowned china manufacturer Villeroy & Boch.
In 2003 she left the Company to return to Brisbane and become a grandmother when her daughter had the first of three daughters. “I’d been pining for Queensland, so this was a great opportunity to come back.”
As a four-year-old, one of her earliest memories was being brought to see the Stanthorpe apple blossoms by her parents, recalling it as “a magic place”. More frequent visits when her daughter married a rural GP whose first posting was to Stanthorpe, led to her buying a vacant block in College Road where in 2006 she designed the house where she has lived ever since. “Despite the hardship of floods and drought, I’ve loved every minute of it. I love the four seasons, the cold and the unique community spirit,” she says.
It was in 2015 that Lorraine once again turned to painting. By then, her daughter and family were living in Moree. During the regular four-hour drives via Texas and Warialda, she was struck by the endless horizon and the enormity of the sky and clouds that it held.
“I started with small 5×7-inch paintings, gradually increasing the size as I gained confidence,” she said. “There was never a gum tree, building or person in sight. I like the remoteness that I try to convey. It’s all about the horizon, the big sky and the clouds. I’ve always been fascinated by clouds and feel compelled to capture their fleeting beauty: sometimes frail, sometimes angry, always beautiful. I love painting approaching rain, and mist.”
Unlike many landscape artists, Lorraine does not paint outside. Her studio used to be a large guest bedroom for her three now teenaged granddaughters. She starts with a blank canvas and has no idea what will appear until it does. “Each work comes from pure imagination. With only one exception, that of a painting taken from a photograph of the clouds over Bondi Beach in Sydney taken by my husband’s daughter Sophie, every work in this exhibition is from my mind’s eye.”
As with all good artists, Lorraine realises the importance of frames and mounts. She scours antique and second-hand shops and has found some magnificent old frames, some with gold leaf. Accomplished local fellow artist and frame maker Graeme Schreiber has been invaluable not only with his framing but with his encouragement and praise of her work. Another to whom Lorraine gives credit is Mary Findlay, who always encouraged her to submit works for the Gallery gift shop and was constantly supportive.
Cloudland, an exhibition by Lorraine Moll, opens at the Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery on June 25 and runs until August 3. The official opening is on July 11 and there will be an Artists Talk the following day by Lorraine. More than 60 landscapes and seascapes will be displayed, all of them for sale.