My work has always been about an intimate and personal experience of particular places where I have spent time. These are often remote and isolated places that are relatively free of the presence of human beings: Antarctica, Macquarie Island, Maatsuyker Island and most recently, Tasman Island. These are all places where the weather and the wildlife dominate and where the balance and order is still in favour of the natural world rather than the human world.
I aspire to making paintings that communicate something about the strength as well as fragility and the transience of the natural world. For me painting is not just about looking at landscapes, but experiencing them, being in them and being touched by them. Its about allowing the self to be changed by experiences of places. My work always starts with close observation of real spaces and forms. In this way I feel a strong connection to the artist/explorers and naturalists of the 17th and 18th Century. I try to imagine what it would be like to come upon these islands and to see and experience the landscape for the first time. It is the vegetation that captures my imagination the most, in particular the grasses.
Tasman Island is a wild and rugged place off the SE coast of Tasmania. The dominant vegetation on the island is a mix of native grasses and pasture escapees remaining from the time when the island was occupied by lighthouse keepers. The grasses; Cocks Foot, Yorkshire Fog Grass, Brown Top Bent, Poa Australis, Juncus, Gahnia Grandis, and Carex Apressa, are very dense and grow up to a metre high, covering about 70% of the island. The chaotic natural weaving of the grasses reflects the way they are shaped by the wind and weather, which can be quite extreme at times. Grasses are often disregarded or seen as insignificant in the ecological scheme of things, and yet they harbour a vast biodiversity and the mixture of indigenous and non indigenous species growing tangled together and competing for space strangely echoes the bigger world.