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Painter of light in the dome
The 2011 painting, which Roberts says ‘had been in my head for a number of years,’ captures the effect of light streaming into the room from the glass panels of the dome.
Roberts recalls, ‘I love the light that floods into the dome on summer days when the sun is high, and the biggest challenge for me with this painting was depicting this diffused light.'
In doing so, he was inspired by the renowned ‘painter of light’, JMW Turner: ‘I had about six or seven of my Turner books opened around my studio as I studied his superb atmospheric watercolours, attempting to imbue the work with something of this ethereal effect.'
The painting also captures the vast scale and ornate design of the room, as viewed from one of the galleries that encircle the space. Roberts deliberately chose this elevated vantage point. ‘As you ascend the levels, the elegant "wagon wheel" layout of the furniture really becomes apparent, and this is the view I chose.’
Jason Roberts is known for his intricately detailed watercolour paintings of some of Melbourne’s great old buildings; previous subjects have included the Hotel Windsor and the Royal Exhibition Building. Recently he has become inspired by thoroughbred racehorses, painting champions including Australian mare Black Caviar. Roberts has exhibited widely in Australia and overseas since the late 1980s.