Dr Paula Payne – Shadowlands Gallery 7, Brunswick Street Gallery 13 September to 2 October 2022
Dr Paula Payne – Shadowlands
Gallery 7, Brunswick Street Gallery
13 September to 2 October 2022
Image (above) Paula Payne ‘Shadowlands’ 2022 acrylic on canvas 135 x 135cm. image credit Louis Lim
I’ve been painting for the past thirty years. My current body of work, Shadowlands continues my interest in landscape, but through the lens of how the impact of the Anthropocene affects the ways we relate to land – or to Country – or to place. But this series of paintings also belies my interest in the processes and material of painting.
Christine Morrow describes my work as follows: “Payne manifests environmental anxieties by employing elisions, doubts, and uncertainties in her painting technique. Her glazes are hazes and her scumbles are stumbles. There is deliberate ambivalence in the iconography too. Contour lines could be escarpments, ridges of open-cut mines, watercourses, or terrace farming.”
I draw from personal experiences: from places I’ve walked across; from tracts of land into which I’ve been a visitor; from sites I’ve dreamed of. These works started in my childhood, when I took long sea journeys with my mother to lands, I’d only imagined, and they’ve continued to develop as memory-maps that also trace the parameters of global environmental anxiety. Yet they also offer refuge – images that can soothe as much as they can raise concerns.
In discussion with Professor Pat Hoffie the term ‘shadowlands’ is used to refer to ‘a shadowy or borderline area, where normal rules and boundaries do not apply’. Yet if this title is used to refer to a body of paintings, what are the ‘normal rules’ that might be being broached here? And if it refers to place – through the tradition of landscape painting – to what kind of ‘shadowy borderline areas’ might this artist refer?
The works are built up through the application of semi-transparent skeins of paint. Over time forms emerge – incandescent, liminal forms suggested by indistinct edges, bleeds of colour, fields of tone. And every so often the sharp, surprising brittleness of a line appears; though indistinct, quivering, on the brink of being swallowed up again by the amorphous bodies of form from which they emerge.
If these works s are considered as part of the genre of landscape painting, then the artist’s observation is surely driven as much by the impulse to seek out inward realms as to visually explore a tangible world beyond the mind. Observation is overlaid by the mutable imperfections of memory; illusions are punctuated by fleeting reminders of fugitive and fragile realities. The ‘rules’ of painting shift and change too – the process of painting alters intentions and modifies clarity. The painter is always – inevitably – adjusted by the process of painting.
These shadowlands exist on the edges of the relationship to place that we all continually recall; place becomes landscape, becomes memory, becomes Country; becomes the understanding that here in Australia, these shadowlands are also ‘abodes of ghosts and spirits’, places in which each of us are inextricably entwined, and for which we are all ultimately responsible.
Brunswick Street Gallery is situated on Level 1/ 322 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
Exhibition opens from 13 September to 2 October 2022
Opening Event Friday 16 September 6pm to 9pm
Contact Paula Payne
Image (below) Paula Payne ‘Ghost’ 2022 acrylic on canvas 50 x 40cm. image credit Louis Lim