Jenny Carrington - "Edges of Reality"

Oil paintings, and pen and ink drawings: explorations in colour and light.

Phyllis Palmer Gallery, La Trobe University, Bendigo. July 16th - Aug 1st 2008

Artist's Statement

The title of the exhibition, edges of reality, refers to the use of the hard edge technique and an alternative view of the landscape which encompasses the reality of light and it's nuances of colour.

My paintings do not represent reality but rather represent an interpretation of reality which exists somewhere on the edge of consciousness. Art itself exists on the edge of consciousness, it bridges the gap between reality and imagination.

Painting, to me, is an exploration of colour and light, utilising the full visible spectrum. Colours react with and strengthen each other depending on which colour they are placed next to. Human vision sees only boundaries of colour, it is the edge between colours which distinguishes forms. The eye reacts to the stimulus of bright colours to create a fugitive complementary colour as an after image. This optical shift, made more visible by the linear edge, influences how we perceive the surrounding colours.

I use oils on linen canvas, prepared with a good white ground that reflects the light back out through the thin layer of paint, intensifying the colour.

The precision of the freehand, hard edge technique along with simplified gestural forms, and linear gradations of hue and tone give vibrancy to the composition. Distinct areas of analogous colours make linear gradations within forms, and the contrast of complementary colours sets boundaries between forms. This technique has evolved from the Minimalist, Op Art and Colour Field work of the 1960's/70's. These international art movements were the avant-garde of the time, when I was studying at Bendigo Institute of Technology.

Some of my early paintings, as a student, were flat geometric abstractions which looked at the formal elements of point, line, colour and shape. And others used fluid gestural lines to fill the canvas. Then, after I graduated, I felt the need to take these abstract techniques a bit further, and translate these patterns into images of the landscape, distilling and abstracting forms into simple symbolic shapes, and combining the gestural with flat areas of pure colour.

It's an organic process. For most of the landscape paintings, which are painted in the studio, I start with a general idea in my head, or a small sketch, often without any lines to guide me, or just a minimal outline of hills, letting the brush take me where it wants. The shapes growing as the brush flows across the canvas.

The fluid forms are inherent in the rhythm of the land, the rise and fall of the hills, the sinuous winding of creeks and paths. They indicate lines of energy within the earth and the interconnectedness of everything.

Some images are based on philosophical concepts, some are purely a response to nature. They are not usually specific places but a sense of the place as a whole. Noting the rhythms and patterns that emerge, while trying to capture the essence of the place.

I like to sit in the bush and draw what I see. The quiet, the smells, the colours, induce a sense of belonging there. Favourite places to draw were the river at Axedale, waterfall at Barfold, dam in the bush at Mandurang, Melville Caves, Mt Alexander. We lived at Ravenswood and Sedgwick for a couple of years in the 1970s, where I enjoyed the close contact with the earth.

There is a beauty and peacefulness in being in the landscape. Not just looking at it, but feeling like you are part of it. Ridding the mind of thoughts and just smelling the scents, listening to the sounds, feeling the air, seeing the patterns and rhythms of its forms and colours.

Images of paths through the landscape are symbolic of our journey through life. Paths also invite the viewer to walk in the landscape and imagine what is behind the next hill. The more recent pen drawings take the viewer into a close up world of being in the landscape, feeling its energy, as well as observing its appearance.

Ultimately I would like to portray archetypal ideas that cross all cultural boundaries, and connect directly to one's soul, but I seem to come back to the beauty of the Australian bush.