I traveled halfway around the world to see what’s just around the corner.
One of the most-significant Australian novels, My Brother Jack, was written by George Johnston on the Greek island of Hydra.
Sidney Nolan moved the England in 1953, dying there there in 1992, yet the vast bulk of his work revived the Australia he carried in his mind.
Detail; Burke on Camel in a Landscape, Sidney Nolan (1917–1992) © Sidney Nolan Trust / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Aberystwyth University School of Art Museum and Galleries
“We have to remove ourselves to see things with fresh eyes.”
Evoking one world from another was part of their process. We have to remove ourselves from the familiar to see it again with fresh eyes.
To be honest, I never really understood this. Drawing from life gives and immediacy to a work, it captures a freshness that you can’t get from mimicking photographs.
One of the leading criticisms of the Archibald Prize in 2019 was that many of the finalists were too dependent on photographs to create their work, rather than painful hours of studio sitting.
“Here I am in Seattle, thinking of the local swimming hole in Braidwood.”
Since I have been immersing myself in the complexities of Shan Shui, I’ve been drawn in my mind to these old granite outcrops all around my home in Braidwood. These formations are perfectly structured for the complexities of the Chinese landscape. Now, perversely, when I am in lock-down far from home, the thing I most want to see is what I have taken for granted.
“Exaggerating the form, to create something new.”
So while I can’t get to the Bombay Reserve swimming hole, I can see it in my mind, I can play with its features, exaggerated its form and see it again through new eyes. Drawing and redrawing home from afar.