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Nature's Calling – A Sue Smalkowski Exhibition

When:

Wed 26 Sep 2018, 10:00am
Sun 14 Oct 2018, 10:00am–6:00pm

Where: Frances Keevil Gallery, 28-34 Cross Street, Double Bay, New South Wales

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: ycheongy

Please join the artist at the opening: Saturday 29 September, 5–7pm.

Nature’s Calligraphy (or Calligraphic Dancing)

Sue Smalkowski lives by the beach on the South Coast of NSW. This collection was inspired by several road trips up the North Coast of NSW, down to the Snowy Mountains and out to Western NSW. The exhibition aims at capturing in paint and drawing, nature's visual vocabulary. From the car window, the eye is drawn to distant ranges that are majestic in size. These ranges embrace the undulating hills and can be bathed in morning misty, bluish greys or the slowly setting sunglows of pink and orange.

As the eye is drawn down from these ranges on the horizon, you observe quiet paddocks where straggly trees have cast their limbs back to the earth. The ground is blanketed by their gnarled branches-some ghostly grey, others dark and weathered, interspersed by tufts of upright, wheat-coloured grass. The roundness of the distant mountain range forms a contrast to the perpendicular shape of this spindly bushscape with inert trees and grasses, waiting patiently for a breeze.

In contrast, vertical wooden fence posts that mark the paddock boundaries are cut horizontally by razor-sharp wire and cooling creeks snake through the countryside. Nature offers up a myriad of shapes and the mark-making in the paintings of this collection—by palette knife, brush, scraping or the use of deliberate drips of paint—collectively work to evoke the variances and depth of calligraphic-like shapes offered up by the Australian landscape. The way in which shapes tell a story is a focus of these paintings but this collection is also influenced by the nuances of natural light and colour.

Despite a sometimes harsh, drought-stricken terrain, surprising pops of colour are visual delights. In a misty, spring sunrise, the condensation on an upward wildflower explosion shows how nature can survive and astonish. At midday, under the harsh yellow sun of summer, the flora, and the fauna it shields, continues to pulse with life.

A return to the Illawarra shows an ancient escarpment hugging the coastline and its surging, sparkling ocean. These are the harmonic, interconnected cadences of nature—it's calligraphic dancing.

Dr Robyn Morris
English Literatures, University of Wollongong