Seeing Australia

Wednesday 23 October 2013

I fell in love a little last night with a painting.  Tom Roberts's Mosman's Bay.

I saw this painting last night on the first episode of a TV show called The Art of Australia (you can watch it here on iView for a couple of weeks). 

The show was an interesting example of how where you come from colours where you are.  So many of the early painters in Australia painted it as if it was England, whereas Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton were two artists who had grown up in the country, and who could see its beauty.

It's true that after the deep greens of England, parts of Australia would have appeared washed out in their colours ... unless you were in the deep rusty orange-reds and sky blues of the outback, with its backdrop of trees and shrubs whose greens verged from olive to lime.  Australia's light must have been excessively harsh to northeners.  Hard to see anything beyond the harshness of a landscape they had yet to learn to read.

To be able to see what is in front of you is like a turning of the lens.  Bring the land itself into focus and the colour starts appearing everywhere.  Like Vegemite, some of the land is an acquired taste.  It hides itself away until suddenly its beauty springs into view.

No comments

Post a Comment

Newer Older