My art practice distils emotional experience into ordered visual forms. Through mark making I have evolved an organic language of abstraction, blurring the boundaries between drawing and painting. The visual language draws from the landscape in Scotland and Australia having spent half of my life in each. The lexicon of natural forms become metaphors, poetic symbols to conjure emotional states.
Moving to Scotland (1987) with a young baby, the paintings and drawings were made as a means of exploring a new home and culture. Wormiston Wood, with layers of history enabled personal identification and a new language to evolve, which lay the foundation for the projects: Drawing on Two Worlds; Embarkation; the Osgood Suite and The Portrayal of Loss, and recent works made on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, and in the south west of Ireland. Since moving to the east coast of Scotland in 1987, it is in fact the west coast, and the journey through the highlands to get there, that triggered a sense of identification or belonging by virtue of my forebears who had migrated from Skye to Australia (1861). It remains the most powerful inspiration for my practice – the haunting Glencoe, the ancient volcanic landscape of Ardnamurchan Peninsula, Argyll and the sublime Hebrides. Parts of the west coast of Scotland and Ireland are affected by the Gulf Stream - Wester Ross in Scotland and Muckross in Ireland; the vegetation is atypical of the rest of the British Isles. The Purple Mountain series began in Ireland in March 2020 in County Kerry. The 19th century diaspora has its roots in the Great Famine in Ireland and the Highland Clearances in Scotland and the subsequent transference of culture and consciousness to Australia and the US that are in my make-up. County Kerry is steeped in mystery, vestiges of past lives and layers of meaning. Sea passages in particular evoke deep emotional, spiritual associations. Purple Mountain (2020) like The Osgood Suite (2011-) employs drawing as an exploratory device.
In Tuscany, Arthur Boyd (1990) gave me use of his studio and supplied wood panels and handmade paints. Italian architecture, landscape and incredible collections of medieval and Renaissance painting remain pivotal to my practice, just as working closely with other artists all my adult life has been a constant privilege.
Immersing myself in diverse landscapes (from east Gippsland in Victoria, Australia) has helped to understand the relationship between place, memory and self. The spread of Covid19 conjured an unprecedented fear of the unknown. Situated in the landscape of my forebears, whose journey to the other side of the world required a leap of faith emboldened me to visualise loss. The structure and patterning of Purple Mountain I hope alludes to building a better future.