For me, art is a space of refuge, where I am challenged to see things differently. In this exhibition–Shorelines, water and the coastal environment are central themes, because they’re also places for wonder and contemplation.
Since moving to Millowl, Phillip Island, I’ve spent hours wandering the coastline, marvelling at the beauty of Bass Coast and Westernport Bay and wondering about their histories. I’m always enthralled by the mysteries of the tideline, where seaweed, seashells and marine fauna gathers and scatters.
The beauty of seascape is familiar from my childhood on the Mornington Peninsula, and therefore comforting. But the unfamiliar interests me most–the partial shells and plants, and strange forms of sea life that aren’t easily identified. Perhaps I like these so much because it feels as if I am seeing something for the very first time. Chance and seeking the unseen are important aspects of my creative process; attention to the strange and curious helps me to explore and to reimagine the environments I am in.
These paintings were generated by the curiosities that emerge from the shoreline–the littoral zone, where sea and land transition into one another. Neither one nor the other, it is an essential part of the environment that shifts constantly between exposure and submersion with the rising and falling tide.
The inspiration for many of these paintings came from long walks, watching the ebb and flow of the waves and how they incessantly reshape the sand and the shoreline. I captured split-seconds in these fluid transitions on my iPhone.
Back in the studio I chose images that offered alternative ways of seeing and engaging with the coast, such as asymmetrical reflections, ambiguous shapes of floating seaweed, conglomerations of sea debris or enigmatic creatures. After editing to a point where the digital images felt resolved, I made colour prints, which became sketches for the paintings.
My approach to painting, (which I have been doing for many decades), is perhaps best described as, dancing with pigment and chaos until some kind of order emerges on the canvas in front of me. When I paint, I always aim to capture a sense of the joy of making art. I hope you can find some evidence of that joy in the works here tonight, and maybe also aspects of the shoreline that you may not have noticed before.