Thursday, July 09, 2015


Privileged Landscape? Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm 2015

Privileged Landscape? is another of my cosmic landscapes. Yes, there's Earth with a cut-out of Australia floating around in space, but still tethered to Earth via a thin ribbon.

The title, a question itself, poses many the Australian landscape privileged? If it is, who or what privileges it? What about all the other national landscapes? What about an Earth landscape? What happens if one landscape is privileged over another? And, could the landscape infer other kinds of 'landscape' like a political or economic one?

Pale Blue Dot
When I was painting this painting, I was thinking about the influence of the famous photograph taken from the spacecraft Voyage 1 as it left the solar system in 1991. At Carl Sagan's suggestion the camera was turned back towards Earth and the subsequent photograph called Pale Blue Dot entered into humanity's image lexicon. The perspective of Earth as literally a pale blue dot against a vast universal landscape had a profound impact on people who questioned how special Earth and humanity are? From this vast distance no discernible characteristics of Earth's landscape were a sense landscape, as we know it, disappeared. However, I propose that a new cosmic or universal landscape made an appearance in a reality that had never been documented before. With its appearance, perspective was able to reveal itself as a magnificent and flexible lens to probe the close and far distances of the Universe.

Perspective as a Tool
So, using perspective as a lens or tool, how special is any one country, continent, nation, state? If we think about the sustainability of the planet, privileging any landscape becomes problematic. Indeed, for humanity to survive we need the planet to be nurtured as a whole. Whilst potential Earth-like planets may have been discovered, orbiting the Goldilocks zones of distant stars, there is currently no alternative home for humanity. This is likely to be the situation for a long time. We need to think of Earth as a living whole landscape ... a landscape that exists in a horizon of time and scale that is universal, and possibly multiversal. Our survival may depend on it...

I entered a similar painting to Privileged Landscape? in this year's Wynne Prize which is awarded annually for 'the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or for the best example of figure sculpture by Australian artists’. Alas, my entry was not selected as a finalist. I will upload it in a blog post in the coming weeks. Many of my thoughts expressed above were also drivers for my Wynne Prize entry. Plus, I liked to think it critiqued, in an expansive way, the privileging of the Australian landscape in the prize criteria which was set in 1895, ninety-five years before Pale Blue Dot!

Exhibition of new paintings.
Doors open Tuesday 21 July at 10 am!
Exhibition Dates: Tuesday July 21 - Sunday August 2
Open Daily: 10 am - 6 pm
Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthyr Rd, new Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
For more images and words please visit  BLOG page for CODE


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