Art and creativity along the rail trail

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Arts on the Rail Trail this year features around 40 artists along the trail from Clyde to Middlemarch.

Exhibitions run until the end of April in sites including cafes, museums, hotels, shops and home studios.

Two artists on the route, Ross Cowie, and Debbie Malcolm, explore their love of Central Otago in different ways.

Pottery, ink on shells, cards, prints, paintings, drawings, dragons, geckos, rabbits and even a rocket greet visitors to Ross Cowie’s home-based studio at 5 The Stonestack in Clyde.

Mr Cowie brings his imagination to life in a wide range of styles.

“I enjoy experimenting and having a go at different things, really,” he said.

This was his first year as part of Arts on the Rail Trail, having just opened his studio and gallery in January.

Mr Cowie had a lifelong love of art and had trained in printmaking at Otago Art Society but also exploring ceramics, painting and drawing.

“You have a go at a lot of things and see what you can come up with,” he said.

Mr Cowie had done several charcoal drawings, including some nudes.

“I quite enjoy doing charcoal; it’s messy, though.”

A charcoal portrait of his father, who was a cabinetmaker, looked out over the studio space.

“He’s keeping an eye on me. I can say to him, ‘are you quite happy with this piece?'” Mr Cowie said.

Picture perfect . . . Artist Debbie Malcolm, of Alexandra, sits at the old railway station at Clyde, where her paintings are being exhibited until the end of April. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON

Debbie Malcolm’s distinctive photorealistic landscapes grace the walls of Shebikeshebikes, in the old Clyde railway station in Sunderland St.

She said the Central Otago landscape was a compelling source of inspiration.

“The local landscape, the colours and just the starkness of it,” she said.

“I like to photograph and I have a huge collection of photos I have taken, and I just use those for reference,” she said.

Mrs Malcolm has a precise style in her paintings, but said it was hard to explain why she painted in that way.

“I think if I tried to paint any differently I probably couldn’t; it must just be your personality,” she said.

Many buyers of her works were from other parts of New Zealand.

“A lot have been people that have visited the area and have just fallen in love with the landscape, and they do want to take something back,” she said.

For information about other artists on the rail trail visit www.centralotagoarts.com