My practice is all about place. And I am interested in wild places.
My chosen wild place could be in a dry creek bed, a coastal mangrove swamp, or an open grassy plain.
In his book Landmarks, Robert MacFarlane writes: “The terrain beyond the city fringe has become progressively more understood in terms of large generic units (“field”, “hill’, “valley’, “wood”). It has become a blandscape. We are blase about place, …. meaning indifferent to the distinction between things.”
In a sense I am working against MacFarlane’s notion of a ‘blandscape’. In examining a place, I am aiming for connection; a return to a longing to be one with the landscape, fighting my own sense of dislocation, and alienation…. I am looking for enchantment within the landscape, and with place.
To study/connect with a place I work intensively ‘en plein air” (outdoors on location).
Once I arrive at a place, I become present within the location and aware of my surroundings by walking, listening, feeling, surveying, and collecting things along my journey. Then I start making marks, loosely feeling the lay of the land with my pencil. I build up the surfaces with layers of mixed media and mark making, painting, scratching, erasing etc. Often using materials found on location such as twigs, branches, ochres.
What I look for are the forces at play that weave a wild place; the topography, geology, ecology, the movement of wind, water, weather patterns, history, and anthropogenic evidence on the landscape. I survey the shapes, textures, colours, patterns of the landscape. I have become increasingly aware of anthropogenic markings on the landscape ….fences, paths, roads, signs, clearings, felled tree trunks, car tracks, tree scars, introduced fauna and flora. Even in the most remote of places, there is always a sign of someone having been there before.
Throughout this process, I am intuitively aware that the landscape has its own memory and is the culmination of all that has gone on before. These traces of memory can affect the whole feel of a place.
I then take this ‘en plein air’ work into the studio, where I bring in my own memory, knowledge, experience and understanding to translate my drawings and paintings into large scale abstract landscape paintings. Here I aim to capture the essence of a place and my response to it. For me this is not a literal thing and is best served as an abstract process.
My work sits in the Australian Landscape tradition. Among my most admired artists are Elisabeth Cummings, Fred Williams, John Olsen, Ian Fairweather, Aida Tomescu, Luke Scibberas, Roy Jackson, Tony Tuckson, Jo Bertini.
It is the love of materiality, surface and mark making that captures my interest as an artist, but ultimately this is my method for creating a visual language to connect with the essence of place and life.
Helena Jackson Lloyd