23 July - 11 August 2019
Australian Galleries | Melbourne
‘Ramble, Kalorama 2017-19 is the culmination of more than ten years of drawing and painting around the problem of how to make a work that conveys the immersive and somewhat episodic experience of being in the bush. Even if I’m standing in one spot to draw or paint I move about, my point of view, relationship to forms, light and seasons all change. The previously seen impinges on the present and all the internal stuff I bring to it is in flux. I ramble about and try to make sense of it all, in a kind of ecstatic reverie.
This work of 21 panels, each 180 x 90 cm, was all painted en plein air in an area of about 8 x 10 sq m, much of it a kind of log corral of long fallen trees. It is just a little way into the bush from a spring-fed dam on my families rare bulb farm; where I grew up and where I have my studio. This painting is not a continuous panorama, but rather it loops through the space, doubling back and repeating forms, overlapping various points of view, ending with what is in reality the entry to this little haven, a kind of somersault of tree ferns.
I love this bush. I love its particular chaos and mouldering smell, I love its intimacy – how it envelops and embraces, and its grandeur – the sense of a tree time-scale and natural rhythms beyond human ken. I love that sometimes it sparkles and dances, at other times is quiet and almost withdrawn. I’m not sure where or what I’d be without its sustaining presence. We all need these natural wellsprings.’ – Mary Tonkin, 2019
Technical assistance, Kate Jones and Shane Kent, School of Clay and Art, Melbourne