Hollow Bearing solo exhibition
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This exhibition titled ‘Hollow Bearing’ is inspired by the old growth trees in the Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains and the ancient rocks of Botany Bay National Park. It includes landscape paintings and drawings using acrylic on canvas and board, charcoal and gouache on paper and ceramic sculptures.
Trees with hollows are termed ‘hollow bearing trees’ or ‘habitat trees’ and only occur in very large, old trees. If there are hollow bearing trees in a forest, you know you are in a forest with history and one that needs protection for the survival of the unique species of Australia. I am especially interested in portraying old growth forest, landscapes and native animals and strive to travel to untouched wilderness places to record what is increasingly being lost from the world forever.
I have been up to Big Ci (Bilpin International Ground for Creative Initiative) as an artist in residence on three separate occasions. I keep returning to Big Ci and the Wollemi because it is old growth forest and wilderness, forests that essentially have not been significantly disturbed by humans. There’s a magical quality to an old growth forest that comes from its very age. The earth is ancient, and that vibration seeps through a wilderness forest like no other, as the gnarly trees and rocks remain undisturbed except for fire. The transformative effects of fire do not hinder the Australian bush but rejuvenate it for new growth.
For my most recent residency at Big Ci the landscape had completely changed due to the back burning, suddenly the landscape had opened up to offer secrets that were hidden beneath the undergrowth. Secret streams started running, rock ledges and caves appeared where before there was only scrub. Brilliant green of new shoots were peppered amongst the inky black of the burnt trees. It was fascinating to see how the brilliant yellow of the angophoras had remained amongst the other burnt trees obviously resilient to the fires.
All the paintings and drawings in this body of work have been painted plein-air or outside, at the Big Ci and a little wild remanent at Botany Bay National Park at La Peruse. From the more literal starting point I break up the space and overlay a more emotive response upon the observational under-structure. The colours are more artistic license than literal as I like to pick the colours from the landscape that inspire me to create an overall harmonious colour palette that gives the essence of the time and place rather than photographic representation.
There’s an expressive quality to the work that comes from the immediacy of plein-air painting and my desire to focus on form and negative space while retaining the early process drawing marks as part of the finished work. The process of abstraction through intense observation of the landscape is one I find endlessly challenging and interesting.