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Wendy Sharpe exhibition focusses on her long fascination with ghosts

Posted on Friday 6 November 2020

A new exhibition by Sydney-based Australian artist Wendy Sharpe called Ghosts will open at the Mosman Art Gallery on December 16 with many of the new works created during the COVID-19 period.

“The phenomena of the unseen worlds of spirits, of ancestry and cultural practices are subjects which have long fascinated Wendy and there are often references in her work to the afterlife and ghosts”, said John Cheeseman, Director, Mosman Art Gallery.

Wendy’s interest in Sydney’s heritage and areas such as Mosman aligns with her artist research into phenomena and she will create a series of large new site specific mural paintings specifically designed for the exhibition spaces within Mosman Art Gallery. In addition to the large scale murals there will be more than 50 works including oil paintings and works on paper from Sharpe’s studio which explore the intersection between the real and the imagined worlds – the seen and unseen – and our human experiences of the spirit world.

“The exciting thing that regional galleries can provide artists with is the opportunity to expand their usual studio practice and be experimental on a grand scale. In Wendy Sharpe’s Ghosts the artist’s ephemeral mural works will traverse the spaces, transforming the Gallery and creating an immersive experience for viewers”, said Katrina Cashman, Assistant Director/Senior Curator Mosman Art Gallery.

The exhibition has a personal connection to Sharpe’s own ancestry with her Russian-Jewish family background. Sharpe’s maternal grandmother Bessie Fishman and her great aunt Ann Fishman were both psychic and were followers of Madam Blavatsky (1831- 1891), a Russian occultist, philosopher and author. Ann Fishman in particular became a well-known psychic and medium in her day, who gave public readings and performances in Russia and the UK.

Sharpe references this family history as well as Victorian ‘ghost’ photographs from the late 19th century, where double exposure imagery created portraits that also captured a lurking spirit within them. Sharpe uses such images as a basis to explore the beliefs that lie within us.

While Wendy Sharpe is known to many as a painter of large scale portraits, in this exhibition, Sharpe employs a range of scales from large mural works through to oil paintings as well as miniature works that depict people, both real and imagined, images of spirits, ghosts, memories of people, imaginary friends, alternate lives and alter egos.

The exhibition includes a performative element with people being invited to witness the artist’s creative processes on site as the murals are made, opening up opportunities to create discussion with people of different cultural backgrounds to share with their own cultural practices, beliefs, customs as well as stories from the community.

  • Wendy Sharpe: Ghosts
  • 16 December 2020 – 7 March 2021
  • Open 10am – 4pm daily. Closed public holidays.
  • Mosman Art Gallery, 1 Art Gallery Way, Mosman.
Public Programs:
  • Live Mural Painting
  • 14, 15 & 16 December: 11am – 12 noon & 2pm – 3pm
  • Bookings essential due to limited numbers: RSVP via
Last updated Wednesday 13 January 2021