The Yilgarn lacunae
Art Taipei 2016
School of Arts and Humanities / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
I am looking to compress some of the space and the immensity so often associated with landscape painting in Australia into a series of small devotional paintings. In renaissance devotional works (the early renaissance in particular), paintings were undertaken for private devotional uses, commissioned by wealthy patrons. These paintings needed to operate as a small, intimate conduit and medium of transportation to a much larger realm – the immensity of the Christian faith and the complex structure of heaven and earth, mediated through the Holy Spirit. Small biblical paintings, often of the Virgin Mary, the crucifixion or other portraits of martyred saints and biblical narratives were exclusively representational and in their tangible reality were seen to give devotees something recognizable (and earthly) to allow transportation to the intangible or transcendental reality that was at the heart of their faith.
My small paintings will be less representational, and will not be hierarchical or embedded with the linear narrative so present in the history of Christian painting. They aim however, to transport the viewer to a much larger space that for many, remains distant, unrecognised and little understood. The subject matter is derived from investigations into isolated landscapes of Western Australia – many of which are landscape fragments or remnants. These works are meditations upon the residues of country. They are consciously condensed into a crowded pictorial space and the hope is that these works create some sort of rebound in the viewer, allowing them to reimagine a completed or untouched landscape; a complex operating system tended to by the aboriginal custodians who recognise it as theirs.
So these little tableaux are addressing ideas of restoration, repatriation and repair. They also by necessity, need to acknowledge what has been lost and how this came to be, so they can be read as annals of destruction, templates of fracture and harrowing memorials to loss and emptiness.