Artist Peter Schouten shares the treasures of the Manning

Wildlife artist Peter Schouten with just one of the works that will be on show during his solo exhibition, Manning Wild.

Wildlife artist Peter Schouten with just one of the works that will be on show during his solo exhibition, Manning Wild.

HIS work is exquisitely precise and has garnered attention from around the world.

Wildlife artist Peter Schouten, from Bobin, has been the artist-in-residence at the Manning Regional Art Gallery for the past two years and now the culmination of this work will be showcased at the gallery from this weekend (July 5-6).

Manning Wild The Art of Peter Schouten is a collection of 40 watercolour and gouache works featuring the diverse wildlife that inhabits the local region.

"All are painted life-size and I am trying to focus on areas people may not be so aware of in the valley," he said.

"My aim is to inform people and promote conservation and for people to know what we've got and that it is worth treasuring."

The exhibition will also offer a sneak peek at some of the paleo artworks (which he is famous for around the world) that will supplement his forthcoming book, The Antipodean Ark The Prehistory of Australasia.

"There's a lot more to the pre-history of the planet than dinosaurs. They are only one part of prehistoric period."

Peter said he's chosen paintings applicable to this area and that give a glimpse of past history relevant to the region.

These paintings are all for publication, so the painting size takes into consideration that the image needs to fit across a double page spread, as well as the style and formality of the publication.

His paleo work is meticulously researched and based on findings at fossil sites.

He will look at all the fossils in one deposit (one site) and from those fossil forms get a glimpse at the animals that occurred in that area and then use that information to reconstruct an image of the animals.

One of the works that will show in the exhibition was based on a fossil site in Victoria.

"It is applicable to here because they were seen along the south eastern coast."

Another of his paintings doesn't include animals but the first land plants that occurred.

"Four hundred and 19 million years ago there were no insects or animals, only plants.

"We happen to have the fossils here at a time when there were no land animals. I think that is as equally as interesting as dinosaurs."

A completely self-taught artist, Peter has developed his own style over many years.

"I haven't lost my childhood fascination with animals, particularly prehistoric. As soon as I could pick up a pencil I started drawing dinosaurs."

Originally, his professional work in publications was limited to pencil drawings, but on the insistence of his publisher who wanted colour images, he taught himself how to paint.

Over the years he's fine-tuned his skills so he can paint any animal.

"So it was circumstances that saw me learn how to paint."

Peter's enormous amount of research ensured his works are scientifically accurate.

His skills sees museums and other authorities from around the world calling on him to assist in their work.

"When there is a depiction of a new species that needs to be announced I'm asked to reconstruct it based on the fossils...they need an image they can show the media."

His most recent work was for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington where he reconstructed an image of two bats that had been discovered at Sulawesi.

He's also reconstructed a cave person from a human fossil discovered in China, and the 'hobbit' from Flores ("I did the first depiction of the species").

Peter began his artist-in-residence at the gallery two years ago and thoroughly enjoys it.

"I love it. I live up in Bobin and I never see anyone, only occasionally".

As well as having social contact with people, he also enjoys imparting some of his knowledge to people as well as hearing their stories about these animals.

"I get a really good insight into the distribution of these animals."

Peter will continue his artist-in-residence (he's at the gallery on Wednesdays and Saturdays).

"I'm looking forward to starting a new collection using oils".

Peter, who was announced the winner of the visual arts award at the Manning Winter Festival Visual and Performing Arts Awards said he felt very honoured to be the recipient.

"It's nice to be recognised for your craft and know what you're doing is making a difference to the area.

Manning Wild is on at the Manning Regional Art Gallery from this Friday (July 4) to August 3.

The official opening is on Saturday July 5 at 6.30pm. Tickets are $10 or $7 for FOGs members. Entry at other times is free.

RSVP to 6592 5455 or email gallery@gtcc.nsw.gov.au

Manning Regional Art Gallery, in Macquarie Street, Taree, is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sundays from 1pm to 4pm.

Also opening at the gallery this weekend is Emily Valentine's Feathery Friends, Faye Collier's Unguarded Moments and the NSW Artists Blacksmiths Association exhibition, Force.

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