This exhibition is the beginning of a new series and a deliberate departure from earlier motifs, which took inspiration principally from the landscape. In these, it was the emotive expression and sense of place that was important; firstly at Sandringham foreshore and then St. Kilda.
Space was constructed and formalised in a ‘planar’ fashion, but not especially analytically.
From the time of winning the John McCaughey Memorial Art Award in 1983, with a painting of the Sandringham landscape, and subsequent exhibitions also displaying an allegiance to this subject, I felt that there was a need to pursue other avenues. I don’t want to be ‘pigeon-holed’ into a painter in one main idiom: ‘landscape painter’, “portraitist” or ‘still life painter” and so on.
The merry-go-round forms the basis of my current works. It is a focus on one aspect of St. Kilda’s Luna Park. In many ways this motif, with its over-elaborate ornamentation, has universal appeal. However in this new series, the grotesque and theatrically wild expressions of the horses are stabilised on the picture plane by a building process of frontally constructed space formed through the process of ‘painting’ rather than being drawn and then coloured in.
It is a conceptual process of working; – at a distance and in the studio. The eye is not fixed at one point and this produces an icon-like austerity in the manner of a frieze. Emphasis is on the two dimensional aspect of the picture-plane, which has been constructed as an integrated whole, merging ornamental carousel structures with the near and distant brightly designed horses.
In some ways, the subject matter is almost kitsch, but I have attempted to fuse my passionate excitement for the subject with a sometimes sombre mood. Some paintings have a higher degree of colour than that which I used in the recent landscape paintings, but this is a joyous motif which is ‘controlled’ by the strongly drawn lines, as both structure and outline.
Many of the paintings are on paper, which I have glued to canvas after the works were completed. This allows for a greater freedom and flexibility and it also produces a special surface quality.
— July, 1985