Peter Sharp: Accidental Tourist

National Exhibition Register

  • Fowlers Gap
    Peter Sharp Fowlers Gap, 2018
    oil on board
    30 x 40cm
    Image Credit
    Courtesy the artist

About the exhibition

Manly Art Gallery & Museum is delighted to announce that it will be touring a special 'in a box' exhibition of paintings and photographs by renowned artist Peter Sharp, Senior Lecturer, Art and Design, UNSW Sydney.

The exhibition, titled Accidental Tourist, is a selection of 40 small plein air paintings from Sharp’s practice over the past 30 years. They reflect his travels around regional Australia and have become part of his ‘toolkit’ for larger abstract works.The artist will create additional work in each of the host regions and is keen to present workshops and artist talks as part of this exhibition project.

Painting locations included:

• Fowlers Gap, Broken Hill

• Dog Fence, near Tibooburra

• Yeppoon, Northern Queensland

• Darling River, Western NSW

• Bay of Fires, Tasmania

• Royal National Park, Sydney

• North Coast, NSW

• South Coast, NSW

The exhibition will be launched at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum in April 2021 and then be available for tour to selected regional galleries through NSW, Victoria & Queensland from June 2021 to December 2022.


This group of paintings would seem to me, to present a dilemma. My main practice for over 25 years has been about looking at the Australian landscape and abstracting it, starting with drawings of the subject and ending with constructed, abstracted painting and sculpture. Sometimes the work doesn’t even end up looking ‘like’ the subject. I would argue what I’m trying to come up with is a new language to help explain an old and very loaded subject matter, as any landscape or place is charged with social or political layering.

'You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.' R. Buckminster Fuller

An interest in Aboriginal painting has influenced my way of seeing, introducing non-western ideas of land into my thinking. How do I accommodate or include different non-linear views into my own practice and ways of experiencing place? Consequently, the dilemma for me is where this body of work fits into my current practice? At art school, I wasn’t taught how to paint ‘en plein air’ which basically means to paint the landscape in front of you in the most direct way possible. ‘Direct’ can mean many things and an artist’s paint technique produces its uniqueness.

I was always a fan of the Australian Impressionists so after art school I taught myself how to paint outside directly from the subject. I even had an exhibition of ‘en plein air’ paintings in 1994 at Coventry Gallery, Sydney. The reaction was interesting as some people loved the new direction I was taking while other painters thought I was digressing from the bigger picture of abstract problem solving. I could even argue that abstraction includes a more conceptual framework and that the ‘en plein air’ work is lacking but I think this is simplifying the argument. I’ve continued to make these outdoor works for over thirty years, for my own engagement and enjoyment without the intention of ever showing them. Until this show!

I continue to create them as demonstrations when I take students out to far western NSW for an annual Fine Arts Field Trip with the Faculty of Art and Design, UNSW. Maybe in the end making these pictures is simply a way of keeping my work honest as I like the ‘friction’ or visual challenge these paintings bring to my practice. They are an asset and not a dilemma and I hope this conversation is relevant to all artists who enjoy the immediacy and challenge of plain air painting.

Artists and Curator

Katherine Roberts

Peter Sharp

Available Dates and
Exhibition Details

Available dates
05/08/2021 - 24/12/2024
Exhibition size
Under 50 sq or running metres
Originating state
Organised by
Manly Art Gallery & Museum
$2,500 (inc. freight) - Contact to discuss
Web Site
Accompanying materials available
Catalogue/Book, Digital Catalogue, Exhibition Tour Manual, Interpretative/Didactic Panels, Labels, Media Kit, Public Program Opportunities, Public Workshops
Primary contact
Katherine A Roberts
Senior Curator
Manly Art Gallery & Museum