Lost Topography

29 October - 22 November 2008
I am interested in the built and natural environment, history, natural forces and processes of change. The works in “Lost Topography” have come out of my preoccupation with knowing more about the places I inhabit and move around in, and thinking about how to represent these places visually.

I enjoy discovering what physical processes made these places, what occurs beneath the surface of the visible environment, what clues they leave to past uses or states. More insights come through recording my visits in photographs, and delving into visual and written records, particularly maps and plans in which library collections and internet archives are so rich. It is a process of either envisaging what lies behind a place as I can visit it now, or a process of reconstructing a place’s former appearance from the schematised maps or sketchy descriptions of the past: or sometimes both.

“Lost Topography” focuses on some places around the City of Melbourne, and the wider Melbourne area: places which have been irretrievably changed over the last 200 years as the surface topography has been scraped, filled, covered over, cut up and built upon layer after layer. A river with a removed waterfall, a European style park in which vestiges of former vegetation remain, a school oval built on a former billabong. At a larger scale, the landform of Melbourne before it was Melbourne- as I might deduce it from the beautiful 1850’s “Quarter Sheet” geological maps held in the Victorian State Library map collection.

The work has also been fed by thinking about alternative ways of representing places or landscapes in two dimensional format - including multiple perspectives as used in the Chinese landscape painting tradition. Also, about some of the different ways of viewing used in the multiplicity of source materials available to us: for instance maps, photographs, aerial views, and Google Earth. I have considered how to draw on these alternative means of representation and how to reconcile these different modes of representation within a single work.

In the end, I see these works as personal ‘interior’ landscapes or representations of place: sometimes bits of landscape (like swamps or billabongs) in a hybrid floating form somewhere between a map and a three dimensional view; at others in a more conventional perspective but with parts of the past and present landscape interwoven. I have left the cultural construction of landscape representation, as something to investigate more deeply in the future.

The end state of each my paintings is never highly preconceived. With all the source material and my general idea in mind, I use somewhat uncontrolled processes to apply and move paint on the canvas to generate marks and stains. They result from gestures of the hand, and from the natural forces moving the paint. So they often evoke natural forces that underly the environment I am referencing. Often these resemble natural processes in the real world, which I then progressively alter until I suspect that the work is finished. Although parts of each work are representational, other parts are not and simply celebrate the qualities of paint.
To view available works from this series please make your enquiry through the contact page.