Study: Ancestral Clouds II, 2017, Oil and beeswax on canvas, 30.5x30.5cm
We often speak of having a ‘clouded memory’ of an event or a face or a feeling. The clouds in these paintings represent these ‘clouded memories’. In this case, the memories are of forgotten forebears who lived, married, bore children and died on the lands around Mt Remarkable in South Australia.
Having no photographic records to evoke these lost members of the family, I did the next best thing, and travelled to the towns where they lived. Some of the towns are now just a dot of the map, bustling townships rendered to dust through the vagaries of the boom-bust cycle of our economic world. While the towns have long gone, the land remains, and is a tangible connection to those who lived there.
I stood on the land where only the foundation stones remain of the church that my great-great grand mother and father were married in on their way north from Adelaide in the 1860s. I stood in front the graves of many – some only infants, some living to a grand age, some surrounded by extended family, some solitary - and wondered what brought them here.
I travelled through the landscape of my pioneering forebears in early winter and the clouds hung low to the ground for the whole week we were there. They were like a soft veil over the land, softening the colours and sounds, casting a damp sheen over everything.
So, these paintings capture something of the experience of bringing into the light - the present - the names and the places that make up my father’s legacy. When I started painting I was drawn to a monochrome palette -ultramarine, black and white, reflecting a somewhat dark and sombre mood. As I progressed, the palette expanded and the ground I started with became the warm ochre orange of the land, instead of the deep blue of sky. It was as though the clouds were lifting: the mood lighter and brighter now.
Approaching Mannanarie, 2018, Oil and beeswax on linen, 46x57cm
Approaching Georgetown, 2018, Oil and beeswax on canvas, 87.5x96.5cm
Study: Ancestral Clouds IV, 2017, Oil and beeswax on canvas, 30.5x30.5cm
Travelling to Melrose, 2018, Oil and beeswax on canvas, 45.5x45.5cm