The concept and inspiration for this exhibition titled ‘Elevation’ originally came from the 18th century Japanese Printmaker, Katsushika Hokusai and his series ’36 Views of Mt. Fuji’. In this series of woodblock prints, Hokusai depicts 36 different views of domestic, village and coastal life, always with the totemic Mt. Fuji slipping somewhere into the composition. The most famous print from this series is ‘The Great Wave’, featuring insignificant rowing figures surmounting a tsunami sized wave with the ever present Mt Fuji standing guard in the distance. The influence of the imposing volcanic presence of Mt. Fuji for Hokusai mirrors the influence of the extinct volcanic sentinel of Mt Canobolas for me.
Sense of place in landscape is very much of part of my identity as an artist. Having lived in the chilly slip-stream of Mt Canobolas all my life, I feel very much part of this landscape, not that this landscape belongs to me, but rather that I belong to this land, this mountain. I have always held an overwhelming sense of connection to this landscape, where the quiet of nature penetrates and sings to the soul, awakening the physical, emotional and spiritual connection on a quantum physics level.
With these two great influences, I set out to create a painting series featuring my ‘mountain mecca’, a place of pilgrimage that I return to again and again. Unfortunately, time has been against me achieving my vision of ‘36 views of Mt. Canobolas’. However, this time short-coming has enabled me to widen my perspective on the subject of Mountain, connection and spiritual identity to look at the heart of what draws me to the mountain top and wild environments in nature. This insight enabled me to include other recent works depicting the awe and connection of experiencing mountain landscapes and in particular, a recent trip to Arkaroola wilderness sanctuary in the Northern Flinders Ranges. From this new vantage point, I came up with the concept of ‘Elevation’ as the theme for this exhibition.
‘Elevation’ is a word of many meanings. It not only refers to the physical height of the mountain, or the emotional high of an elevated mood when you experience being at one with nature, it also brings forward the concept that nature elevates us to a higher spiritual plane... one where we are no longer masters of our environment, but rather an integral and harmonious part of nature where all things connect in a universal language.
This landscape of rugged terrain, twisted snowgums, alpine wildflower heath and crisp mountain air connects me to my ‘sense of place’ as a non-indigenous woman of the Wiradjuri landscape. Although my skin is white, my spirit is black and green, as I too belong to ‘country’.