Mannum artist Steve Oatway breaks out with 'Face to Face' at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery

Steve Oatway could be on the verge of something big.

That's the hope of Scott Rathman, who launched the Mannum artist's exhibition "Face to Face" at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery on Sunday.

On display at the Sixth Street gallery are a dozen or more faces Mr Oatway assembled using pieces of "found materials" - in layman's terms, rubbish and spare parts.

Mr Rathman said he had never met anyone so passionate and excited about art.

"His ability to climb out of the lows (he has experienced) is the passion that drives his artwork," he said.

"All of those emotions are captured in every single one of those faces.

"There's something in those faces that's been discarded by someone.

"He sees other people's junk as a new treasure for him to create something magical."

Mr Oatway created the works after a zen moment in which he sought to empty his mind and simply started welding things together.

Like magic, he said in a preview of the exhibition, faces appeared.

Several dozen people attended the opening of Face to Face and two other exhibitions on Sunday afternoon.

The main gallery space was filled with drawings by Carole Bann, who used metalpoint, a Renaissance technique in which marks are left on abrasive paper using a shaft of silver or gold.

Flinders University Professor Roger Rees, who introduced that exhibition, "Obsessive Nature", waxed lyrical about her painstaking attention to detail.

"(Her work) tells us how much we miss if we don't take the time to gaze," he said.

"I'd compare her control to that of the most skilled neurosurgeons."

Finally, a room full of words by writer Glenn Stenson and images by painter Uta Mooney, "Penetralia", was presented by arts marketer Jack Condous.

"It will challenge you, it will be evocative, it will make you think about what you're seeing, but I think it's worth seeing and worth telling your friends to see," he said.

The three exhibitions will remain on display until May 28.

Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, is open from 10am-4pm Tuesday to Saturday, excluding Anzac Day and other public holidays, and 11am-4pm on Sundays.

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