Term Two at Hale saw the historical Roundhouse return to its past role as an art studio on campus. The building that once saw Robert Juniper seated behind his easel, sharing his love of art with Hale students including Leon Pericles in the 1960s, became the home of Hale’s Artist in Residence.

Ross Potter was engaged by Fine Art@Hale, as part of the 60th Anniversary celebrations of Hale School’s move to Wembley Downs, to connect with the boys and staff, to showcase his artwork and to produce a community creative project on the theme of Belonging.

Born and raised in Brisbane, Ross is a Kamilaroi man who has called Perth home since 2007. Though he says he did not really experience school while he was a student as he was too busy drawing, he is relishing being part of the vibrant life of Hale School. Among classes with primary students and workshops with groups as diverse as the Philosophy Club and the Volleyball team, Ross has found the Hale environment surprisingly conducive to his art practice.

‘I thought that working in the Roundhouse was going to be crazy and busy and altogether too noisy for me to work, but aside from recess and lunch times, it wasn’t at all! It’s a perfect space to design with great light and plenty of walls to work on and create.’

During the year that Hale is celebrating the 60th Anniversary of its move to its beautiful campus in Wembley Downs, Ross has explored the grounds on which the school sits. ‘The first thing I do when I go to a new place is find Nature,’ he says. At Hale, this instinct lead to the natural bushland in the Junior School which has inspired a new work of a hollow tree trunk containing a thriving beehive. In his exploration, Ross aims not to disturb or alter the natural world but to use his artistic skills to shift perspective or emphasis. His aim is to invite us to observe what we might otherwise not see.  

Many of Ross’ works encourage the viewer to examine the detail of an object because they have been drawn at scale such as his life-size drawings of Tricia the elephant and that of a great humpback whale. He says his practice has evolved into an exploration of how emotion can be expressed through nature, with images of birds providing a cloak for human suffering and desolate landscapes speaking to loneliness and isolation. With his distinctive graphic style, Ross explores the detail in the everyday, often revealing more than meets the eye.

As part of his residency, Ross has developed a school wide project focussed on the concept of ‘Belonging’. All boys and staff have been invited to participate with instructional videos and resources made available.  Branching out from his predominant practice of graphite and pencil on paper, Ross set himself the challenge of working with collage for the first time, with contributions of feathers drawn from boys across campus as part of the concept.

Ross will also exhibit at the Fine Art@Hale 2021 Exhibition from 23-25 July and will be the guest speaker on Opening Night. His work The Witness is the image for this year’s exhibition. The drawing of a Black Swan with two heads is inspired by Maritime Archaeologist Dr M McCarthy, a keen observer of historical events and people and the image resonates particularly well with Hale School in this very special milestone year.

The Witness, 2020, graphite on paper by Ross Potter Image © Courtesy of Artist