Country & Western: landscape re-imagined 1988-2013

The land in which we are dependant on continues to influence a significant number of artists who examine and represent its qualities through their own experiences, lessons and understandings. The gallery walls at the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery are fixed with a vivid presentation of earthly colours in the landscape exhibition, ‘Country & Western: landscape re-imagined 1988-2013.’ A Perc Tucker Regional Gallery touring exhibition, curated by Gavin Wilson, it includes works by 39 Australian artists who have expressed, through their work, their connection to the landscape.

The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre was a suitable venue for the exhibition. Shane Fitzgerald, Manager Gallery Services | Director Perc Tucker Regional Gallery/Pinnacles Gallery says, “Further, being set in a stunning and unique part of the Australian landscape, we always thought the venue particularly appropriate to host an exhibition that explores the nation’s rich landscape tradition.”

The exhibition shares contrasting perspectives between the works of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. The spiritual connection to land felt by Indigenous artists remains to be a prominent drive. Fitzgerald explains, “For a number of Indigenous artists represented in the show, it is impossible to separate depictions of the landscape from the deep sense of loss and dispossession it represents.” Links between works start to materialise as similar areas of investigation have taken place. Environmental concerns, mainly caused by our own doing, are addressed through a number of pieces while others explore the effects of natural climatic events including fire, flood and drought.

Perceptions of the landscape have shifted over the past 25 years and for much of that time the celebration of the beauty found in the Australian landscape was an area of significant importance. Fitzgerald explains, “…there is an urgency about the work of many artists currently to highlight its beauty, but also its fragility. Our perception has seemingly shifted from a land of infinite beauty, to one of very finite beauty should we continue on our current course of impact and encroachment on the land.” Near Ruined City (detail), 2007 by Angelina George illustrates a rocky and sun inflicted terrain. The bold yet warm colours define the features of the painting making the landscape recognisably rugged and dense in certain areas. The colours soften as the mountains stretch into the distance underneath a dry, cloudless sky. In Way out West (detail), 2008 artist Julie Harris shares her depiction of the landscape with a gentle mingling of blemishes that waver and sit open to the possibility of appearing like trees, water and rocks in a place enriched with depth and atmosphere.

‘Country & Western: landscape re-imagined’ aims to provide a deeper and more informed understanding of connection to country. Viewers may see similarities to places previously visited and they may recall the feelings experienced from the land when they were in its presence. Fitzgerald says, “We hope for viewers to first and foremost grow an appreciation for the nation’s landscape tradition, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Our perception of landscape is linked to who we are, what we feel, and how we interact with space.”

Blue Mountains City Art Gallery
Blue Mountains Cultural Centre
Until March 6, 2016
New South Wales