Inspired by a deepening appreciation for specific elements and shapes in the landscape, these recent works focus on the trees and plants of places I love and a recognition that these are the things that shape and define me. As I've reflected on Judith Wright's poem 'The Eucalypt and the National Character' I've been considering her post-pastoral post-colonial message and what emblems have meant and could mean, the heavy difficulties and hopeful possibilities of a 'national character', and the responsibility we accept when we look to nature for definitions and reflections of ourselves.
I like to think of the gum tree as the background music to the life of every Australian. However, the Eucalypt is far from commonplace. These works present the familiar shape on a noble scale, and with rich regal colours, like a portrait. While she may be informal, she is certainly not undistinguished.
"She can wait grimly for months to break into flower
or willingly bloom in a day when the weather is right." (Judith Wright)
These works and this poem are not about sentimentality or patriotism- they are in fact the opposite. They are beautiful protest. I hope the viewer will engage with the humbling and hopeful challenge to reconsider our relationships with the land and with each other.
"She, on the other hand, follows a delicate bent of her own. Worn by such aeons, dried by such winds, she has learned to be flexible, spare, flesh close to the bone..." (Judith Wright. The 'Eucalypt and the National Character')