11 August 2019

Chiang Mai Studies - March to May 2019

Building on practice that explores the way Place influences language of painting, this series of 24 studies are reflective on travel through Indonesia and Thailand.
Each painting acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm.

Social media comment on the city of Bangkok, January 2019:

'Bangkok is a city of opposites. Religion and State are everywhere. It is hot and humid with a hazy diffused sunlight. Orange marigolds are on every street at Buddhist Wat, contrasting with the greys of streets stained with pollution. The city has no centre, it is one big sprawl and bus journeys take an hour and a half in the choking traffic. Museum of Comtemporary Art played music and had no contemporary art. Queens gallery, better but traditional imagery permeates. It was the BAC Bangkok Art Biennale that saved the day at the Bangkok Culture Centre, with engaging works and a floor of performance stages each with video documentary. City wide works impossible to locate. The 1km mural of Ramayana at the Grand Palace best traditional work..stunning. A city of opposites.

My methodology of working on location is defined as creating ‘scapes’ (involving multiple facets of a subject) evolved through both exploratory studies and in the production of a definitive project portfolio (for exhibition or presentation). The new approach to thinking is defined by the response to Place: how different cultures perceive visual themes, particularly colour. My interest is broad and includes ecological, geopolitical and cultural indicators of Place.

07 December 2018

Light, Surface and Colour: Sauerbier House A.i.R. Practice Post #8

Grand River 2018 acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm

The final two large paintings were resolved over several days whilst working on the series as a whole. I felt intense involvement at this stage of the project and felt instinctively as it progressed, that the work had gone somewhere. Whether that remains to be seen is of course another matter as only time can tell if a painting is worth anything at all. I knew when I started this series and particularly the two larger paintings that I had again, whilst working on this residency, put myself at a place of unknown destination. Maybe it comes with a desire to make the best work one has ever made, exceed previous. When I started the residency and again when I began the paint studies, there is a trepidation; it is the unknown. This element of 'what on earth am I doing' has to be there otherwise you are not really painting anything worth while at all.

River Dream 2018 acrylic on canvas 75 x 100 cm

detail River Dream 2018 acrylic on canvas 75 x 100 cm

detail River Dream 2018 acrylic on canvas 75 x 100 cm

detail River Dream 2018 acrylic on canvas 75 x 100 cm

detail Grand River 2018 acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm

detail Grand River 2018 acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm

detail Grand River 2018 acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm

Blanch Point 2018 acrylic on canvas 35 x 45.5 cm

Ngankipari 2018 acrylic on canvas 35 x 45.5 cm

 Perkana 2018 acrylic on canvas 35 x 45.5 cm

Blewit Springs 2018 acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm

Willunga 2018 acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm

Tuit Yellow2018 acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm

Ngaltinga 2018 acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm

Exhibition statement:

Light, Surface and Colour

Evolved in direct response to the Onkaparinga River
estuary, this series of ‘scape’ paintings explore through
colour, ways of seeing and recalling landscape.

In preparation for the Sauerbier House artist in residence program,
Smith arrived with a number of agendas. These included exploring
landscape and place, the use of acrylic paint and the possibilities of
joint creative intervention. Connections and contrasts to his home
region of North Wales and particularly the place of Llanfairfechen, the
original name of Sauerbier House, made for a potent mix of contexts
from which to embark.

Working at Sauerbier House for the focussed and uninterrupted
residency, the Ngangkiparri River and the Willunga Basin facilitated a
new departure in Smith’s painting. Visual exploration evolved from
‘looking at’ to a focused studio based enquiry, assimilating experiences
of being on, moving over and thinking about place in relation to
making. Although familiar with a home national park landscape, the
challenge to respond to Sauerbier House and the surrounding areas
over three months has resolved new departures.

For Smith, this series of ‘scapes’, (involving multiple facets of
landscape) evolved through both exploratory studies, (an approach
which is different and challenging in terms of previous investigations)
and in the production of a definitive exhibition. The work developed
through specific stages; objective drawing on site, to look and
familiarise, larger charcoal studies of trees and rocks seen in the
Onkaparinga River National Park and finally, deconstruction of form to
get the essence of place. Materially, the study sheets (series of 9)
contributed to developing a greater understanding of the acrylic paint
colour systems. This in turn has led to a series of smaller paintings
produced on canvases brought across from Wales and the two larger
works painted on surfaces selected on site.

Crucial to the new series, Smith reached a point in his investigations
where he desired a greater flexibility in the handling of both paint and
form. In embracing the Australian acrylic paint systems, varying in
viscosity, spectrum and value, inclusive of fluorescent hues and by
applying less overt geometry in the realisation of a work, this vision was
accomplished. The final paintings on canvas demonstrate the shift of
Smith’s painting language to show new levels of vibrancy and
expressive application.

Painting small and large, on the floor and wall, and at all times in
series, (working on all paintings at the same time), the conclusive
‘scapes’ have evolved as a definitive statement on Smith's experience 
of place through colour, surface and light.

Review of nine 35 x 45.5 cm paintings riverside veranda 26.11.18

Supported by an International Opportunities Fund Grant from Wales Arts International

26 November 2018

Light, Surface and Colour: Sauerbier House A.i.R. Practice Post #7

Photograph by Suzanne Mustan

Photograph by Suzanne Mustan

The main and concluding series of paintings on canvas are designed to push my practice boundaries within a two fold reasoning. Firstly, to respond to the opportunity of a three month block of uninterrupted studio time (as an international resident regular routine is left behind) enabling an unusually focused time to concentrate only on the work in progress but also because crucially to the new series made during the residency, I had reached a point in my practice desiring a greater flexibility in the handling of paint and form with less overt geometry in realisation.

Photograph by Suzanne Mustan

The final works were to be made on the 19 canvases that I had brought with me from Wales and two further selected here in Noarlunga, all with basic standard pre-primed and ready to go surfaces. The 19 are in two sizes 20.5 x 25.5cm (9 canvases) and 35 x 45.5cm (ten canvases) with the two larger at 100cm square and 75 x 100cm. The square size is inherently challenging presenting four equal sides.

Photograph by Suzanne Mustan

The Australian acrylic paint systems used here has included varying paints of viscosity, spectrum and value including some fluorescent hues. The final paintings on canvas demonstrate the shift of my painting language to new levels of vibrancy and expressive application. The series of ‘scapes’(involving multiple facets of landscape) has evolved with the task of making new exploratory work, different and challenging in terms of previous, yet also to make a definitive exhibition. I feel also the process may have compounded future directions for my painting practice.

Initial paint application was to put down a base colour and get a feel for the canvas. The fluidity of the paint is noticeable yet pigment intensity high. (See previous post for further paint analysis) They work well with the canvases that are basic standard pre-primed surfaces.

Supported by an International Opportunities Fund Grant from Wales Arts International

21 November 2018

Light, Surface and Colour: Sauerbier House A.i.R. Practice Post #6

McLaren Vale from Lot 50 Kanyanyapilla

Lot 50 Kanyanyapilla, McLaren Vale. Joint Interventions. 

For nine days I stayed at Lot 50 K, the ecological and cultural regeneration project created by artist and cultural geographer Gavin Malone. It is based in the centre of the SA wine producing area, McLaren Vale, in the Wiilunga Basin. Lot 50 K is in year four of a ten year project and the 40 hectare site has been planted, defined and constructed to create a centre of cultural significance. Once an Aborignal campsite (6500 to 7000 years to c.1930) and now part of the protected heritage site of the area, the place is rich in archaeology, with artefacts found on site housed in the purpose built culture shed. 

Sunrise Lot 50 K

Additional sites and constructs include the Dendro theatre (open air performance space), Swamp deck (in the Maslin swamp) Sandhill shelter (on the sandy hill from where there is a grand view of the Vale) and Lorrie's Hut, the main reception point to the project. The project has senior custodians that include members frrom the Aboriginal Williams Clan and the project encompasses both European and Aboriginal agricultural practice. I learnt the Aboriginal soft burning of the land was common practice, to clear areas and generate seed growth, some seeds only germinating at a certain heat. Modern day bush fires are destructive with intense heat. 

Polly and Mam, the resident horses of Lot 50 K 

Whilst helping Malone water some of the 1500 new plantings (after three years some trees give shade today) he describes the project as"re-balancing agriculture on a micro level". I perceive the project as an art manifestation. Malone's work features in some of the constructions but moreover, the whole place has an element of creative thinking that is ongoing and developing, rich in cultural and ecological contexts and audience centred.

Insect traces across wood meander and create distinctive lines. The climate enables high visibility of this activity that has profound visual implication. 
Lorrie's Hut Lot 50 K

Initial sketches. The word reed was used to denote the swamp that seemed difficult to draw in this way.

Whilst staying in the Shed, the main accommodation place at Lot 50 K, I made numerous visual drawings as I walked the land. There is no electricity so early morning and late evening light were observed without interruption. The weather was very mixed with electric storm and high wind. I searched for an essence of the place and the objective, 'looking at' approach seemed increasingly not to connect with the essence of the place. The Maslin Swamp covers the lower part of the project and the reeds are left uncut. I became aware of the sound of the reeds, a distinctive flow. This became my overarching impression of the place. A series of reed watercolours were made directly in response to and about the sound of the place. 

My fellow A.i.R is Tristan Louth Robins, a sound artist based in Adelaide and who explores the landscape through sonic media. He has indicated his main A.i.R work will consist of multi-channel sound installation and small sculptural objects, both attributing sound events to natural and man-made materials located around the Onkaparinga area. Having observed Louth Robins working processes over the past few weeks I noted a number of visual diary notes referencing possible points of overlap. Stillness, wire (line), capture, acoustic shadow, compression, field, depth, resonance, silence, (space between) sound collage, fragility, and impermanence. Some, if not all terms familiar as visual art terminology. Sibilant is a term new to me in relation to art form. In discussion with Louth Robins the meaning of consistent texture and perhaps crackling sound, repetitive or unbroken seemed to resonate with the perceived sound of the reeds at the Maslin swamp. As a joint intervention (not collaboration) planned for the wash room space, a small brick built shed adjacent to Sauerbier House galleries, Sibilant form might be a possibility and a different departure to our main exhibition spaces in the gallery.  

The Maslin Swamp Lot 50 K with uncut reeds

Supported by an International Opportunities Fund Grant from Wales Arts International