I have been working very hard in the studio for my forthcoming SALA Festival group exhibition at Milan Rouge, an art gallery up at Stirling in the Adelaide Hills.
I have been pondering my fascination with the shapes I keep making, referencing the landscape around the Fleurieu Peninsula here in South Australia, but also landforms evident in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
I’ve been thinking about a family trip undertaken when I was 14 or 15 years old up to Northern Territory. We explored some iconic sights: Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta (known as Ayers Rock and The Olgas at the time). I had quite the eerie experience at Kata Tjuta, an amazingly large grouping of 36 massive domed rock formations millions of years old. I distinctly remember the feeling of being unsettled in this place, of feeling a powerful energy there which wasn’t necessarily malevolent, but nonetheless, very uncomfortable. This experience is very hard to articulate. At the time, I certainly had no knowledge of the significance of Kata Tjuta to the local custodians, the Anangu people. This is a very significant place to the Anangu people, who have lived in the region for at least 22,000 years, and there are several Dreaming stories associated with Kata Tjuta.
Questions I continue to contemplate are: What knowledge is embodied in a landscape? How does that manifest for humans, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people? What was I feeling and why? Is it possible for places to carry, for lack of a better word, energy?
These landforms are like sentinels. They are (impassive ?) observers to our journey and those who have come before. My response to the Australian landscape is very intuitive, and difficult to articulate, perhaps this is why I continue to paint it.