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Adele Compton's Strangely Familiar | Gloucester Gallery

An exhibition with a magic rebel heart

In the lofty peaks of Copeland Tops State Forest, mix medium artist Adele Compton walks every day. It was on these ambles that she found her imagination swept along by the magic of the environment, and the characters that once walked among the woods.

“It’s an old, local goldmining place,” the artist told Regional Arts NSW. “Every day I walk at this place and get all these feelings that there are stories behind it. I went down the imagination mine, sort of like a wonderland and I had all these stories in my head that I felt had happened in the bush. The idea for the photos grew from there.”

Her photography exhibition, Strangely Familiar, is on at the Gloucester Gallery until the 28th of this month. The images celebrate Compton’s unique vision of nature and whimsy, with highly staged scenes featuring local models. With names like ‘The Gift’, ‘Enormous Tea Party’ and ‘Land in the Enchanted Forest’, the work revisions the bushland as a fantastical playground.


Her works search for a common element of humour and often embark on a rebellious journey… [that] enables the viewer to see beyond the contours and shapes of the forest… Adele’s images convey the essence of what it is like to be human with a honest and deliberate exploration of human emotions portraying fragility and sensuality in a magical wonderland.

– Artistic statement, Gloucester Gallery


Compton’s family have lived in the Gloucester Shire region for six generations, and she has been photographing and working with wool since 1970. She is the president of the Gloucester Arts Society. Strangely Familiar is her first solo art show and combines her strikingly imaginative photography with her iconic knitted beanies. Her flamboyant and spirited nature reverberates throughout this joyful exhibition.

“I’m a spinner, you see, since the seventies I’ve always worked with wool,” she says of her felt fibre pieces, included in the exhibition. “In a moment of madness, I started doing the beanies about eighteen months ago and they’re selling like hotcakes.” The ‘wearable art’ is available for sale at the show.

The artist revels in her own quirkiness, and invited the viewed to suspend disbelief and go for a tear down the rabbit hole this Easter.


Interview by Estelle Pigot.