It is a strange feeling to be physically present in a space which, to others, is only a backdrop to their travel. The two types of experience are completely cut off from each other; the space above on the bridges and the landscape beneath seem to exist in different pockets of time.
My latest body of work reflects an interest in how the changes we make to the environment in turn affect the way we relate to the spaces we inhabit and pass through. We divide and design space for human purpose and internalise these constructions in order to psychologically map our sense of place in the world. In this way, the external environment becomes a mirror for the internal, individual space of the subconscious, allowing these images to be read in a metaphorical or narrative sense.
The paintings are based on photographs taken in two different locations near the town of Kiama. The first is a section of old highway that once took traffic through town where, particularly at night, there can be a feeling of desolation and unnatural quiet. I was fascinated by the starkly lit embankment, a weedy wilderness cut out of the rock to accommodate the road; it is ground not meant to be walked over, only seen from the window of a moving vehicle. Here the conventional binary between the natural and man-made environment breaks down. This distinction is uncomfortably merged as plants, some native but mostly weed, have firmly established themselves on the rock-face which crumbles and erodes under the influences of time and the elements. The two paintings based on this location (‘Lone Rider’, ‘On the Ground’) will be shown later this year as part of my contribution to a crime themed group show ‘Exhibit A’, curated by Carrie Miller, at The Lockup in Newcastle.
The second location I photographed is a bike path winding through dairy paddocks which are gradually being eaten up by suburban development. The path passes under two highway bridges which impose monumentally on the rural landscape. It is a strange feeling to be physically present in a space which, to others, is only a backdrop to their travel. The two types of experience are completely cut off from each other; the space above on the bridges and the landscape beneath seem to exist in different pockets of time. As modes of travel become increasingly efficient, there is an ongoing abstraction of the landscape into something that is passed through, not physically experienced. It is hard to fight a feeling of nostalgia, seeing a remnant rural idyll through the frame of a concrete monument to human progress. At the same time, there is a sense of awe when looking up at these incredible constructions, at what we humans can achieve.
I am also interested in how these spaces, constructed for one purpose, might find another under the cover of darkness. As I put these images together there is the imagining of other people experiencing them and how they might feel. Outsiders finding solitude, camaraderie, danger, sadness or perhaps even elation, the darkness outside intensifying a connection to the inner self.