Venita Salnajs

V e n i t a   S a l n a j s

Towards Mount Hay

For as long as I can remember, I have been inspired by the natural beauty of God’s created order in the landscape – His flourishes of colour and detail, texture and structure. Consequently, many of my works are landscapes, particularly the Blue Mountains where I lived for many years.

My painting, which is characterised by a love of line, does not begin with a predictable plan. Random patterns of gouache and watercolour create backgrounds that form starting points for the imagination. For me, the process is as exciting and mysterious as the result. Using sponge, spatula, collage and photographic resource material, the artwork grows, transforms and evolves.

Art cannot be separated from my spiritual self. It is an activity that is as much about the unknown as the known. Reflection and meditation, research and meaning – it all flows from the core of my faith and being.

Born in Zwickau, Germany, to Latvian parents, Venita Salnajs arrived in Australia at the age of four. After completing studies in art education at the National Art School from 1963 to 1966, she taught in secondary schools in New South Wales. In 1976, she moved to the Blue Mountains, where she painted extensively for 27 years before returning to Sydney in 2004.

Since 1977, Salnajs has exhibited regularly in the Blue Mountains, Penrith and Sydney, holding solo exhibitions at the Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney, Breewood Galleries, Katoomba and Kenthurst Galleries, Kenthurst, New South Wales. In a review of her 1992 exhibition, Maladies of Love, the art critic of The Australian, Elwyn Lynn, wrote, ‘Her linear line and vigour are remarkable.’ Two years later, Salnajs was guest artist at an international workshop in Brande, Denmark, which resulted in another solo exhibition on her return, Journeys.

In 2005, her work was included in the exhibition, Land Out of Time, which toured regional galleries. Other group exhibitions include Seven Australian Watercolour Masters, curated by Max Taylor, A Collector’s Choice and Truth in Origin: Five Truths, Five Lifetimes, at Artsite Gallery, Camperdown, and Three Artists (2007) and Spring Exhibition (2017) at Artarmon Galleries.

Among her awards are the John and Elizabeth Newham Pring Memorial Prize for Watercolour, Art Gallery of New South Wales, which she won in 1976.

Venita Salnajs has been a member of the Australian Watercolour Institute since 1974.