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Artist Piers Bateman paints the Vodafone Australian Safari

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SATURDAY, AUGUST 26: Internationally acclaimed Melbourne artist and motorsport enthusiast Piers Bateman is travelling on the Vodafone Australian Safari this week and is producing a collection of exclusive oil paintings capturing the atmosphere...

SATURDAY, AUGUST 26: Internationally acclaimed Melbourne artist and motorsport enthusiast Piers Bateman is travelling on the Vodafone Australian Safari this week and is producing a collection of exclusive oil paintings capturing the atmosphere and spirit of the event.

A sample of his works on the international cross country rally, featuring former 500cc world champion Kevin Schwantz, is now on the official Australian Safari website (www.australiansafari.com.au).

Bateman, who races an MG midget in hill climbs and club events in Victoria, has an impressive list of customers, who include golfing great Greg Norman, politician Andrew Peacock, business magnate and former British Lions rugby union Test winger Tony O'Reilly, and Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet Company.

During Bateman's 30-year career as an artist, his unique and self-styled work has been exhibited in leading Australian galleries, and overseas at the prestigious Mac 21 festival at Malaga in Spain and at the Australian Embassy in New York.

Bateman said he expected to exhibit paintings from the Safari, contested by motorcycles and four-wheel-drive vehicles over a 4,067km course from Alice Springs to Darwin, at the Delshan Gallery in Melbourne during November.

"Painting and motorsport are both passions of mine, and going on the Safari is a fantastic opportunity to combine the two," said Bateman.

"More than likely, the paintings will be impressionist, rather than realist, although I'm open-minded."

"I've done a lot of travelling through the Northern Territory and the possibilities with the Safari are endless when you combine the action of the competitors with the wonderful colours and texture of the terrain."

Some of Bateman's best-known works are outback landscapes, prompting Wendy Donald of Art Approach to write: "Bateman is part of Australian landscape painting, seeking not only to paint its beauty, but to find its spirit. He goes out into its vastness and harshness, he sits on the ground and walks its terrain so that he is feeling the land beneath his feet. The heat, the dryness and the dust become part of him and his art. He takes the very earth itself and builds with it."

Bateman said he would complete his works from the Safari in two stages.

"During the event I'm doing three to four acrylic sketches on paper each day to capture the atmosphere of the event and the conditions," he said.

"These sketches will be 'memory jolters' when I get back to my studio near Melbourne and do the major works on canvas."

"It may take several weeks to complete the collection from the Safari, depending on size, and there are also technical issues to consider such as how long it takes for the paint to dry before you move on to the next stage."

Bateman said his largest paintings were generally around 4x2-metres, and prices ranged from $1,000 up to $20,000 each.

The paintings from the Safari will eventually be on sale through Bateman's new website (www.piersbateman.com.au), and from event promoter Octagon Motorsport.

Mike Porter, mikep@qldnet.com.au

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