Many talents on show in Moe

Anne Simmons

Moe Art Society president Ken Downs remembers the first time he exhibited his work, 23 years ago.

It was a feeling someone once described to him as like running across a ballroom naked.

“The first time is daunting. It is exciting but daunting at the same time because you’re unsure where you fit against others,” Mr Downs said.

The art society will host an exhibition for its 40 or so members this weekend, but for many in the group, it won’t be their first exhibition.

There are three life members with about 50 years of membership apiece.

Mr Downs has painted a watercolour of Flinders Streets’ iconic steps with undeniable skill.

He jokes it took him “23 years” to paint, nodding at the long-term discipline an artist must have for skill development.

In particular, watercolour is a “very difficult” medium because of the “inside-out” thinking required to plan ahead for white spaces where no paint is applied.

This will be the first year members will contribute photography to the exhibition.

Newborough artist Debra Laurie will exhibit some seascapes but her experience photographing the water goes deeper.

She has been an underwater photographer for 10 years and has come to believe Victorian reefs have more colour than the Great Barrier Reef, with the “beautiful” soft corals and sponges.

“We have a lot of blue-ringed octopus around our jetties down here. Then we also have big stingrays, bull-rays, that like to come in and watch what you’re doing,” Ms Laurie said.

Scuba diving with her camera around jetties has introduced her to “the most colourful little slugs” called nudibranchs in pinks, purples, yellows, greens and black-and-white.

“I had an amazing time with dolphins once when I was drift-diving hanging onto the end of the rope – having 11 dolphins just sit an arm’s length away from me and just look at me. I could see every little detail on their skin,” Ms Laurie said.

She finds a therapeutic quality in the pastime she now does with a GoPro – she used to take a covered “land camera” – where three-and-a-half-metre grey nurse sharks have slowly drifted past her.

“If you chase them they just move away from you so you’re better off to just sit still and just observe them,” Ms Laurie said.

The exhibition will be on September 29 and 30 at the Masonic Hall at Old Gippstown, Moe from 10am-4pm each day. Free entry.