Usually based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the artist wanted to get outside her comfort zone and explore over in the Eastern suburbs. When Tye first began the series, who would have thought that crossing over the harbour would become a true escape. Yet as 2020’s COVID lockdowns meant we were limited to first, only a small circle around our homes, then our cities; we were invited instead to explore places close to home in novel ways.
Because of these lockdowns, Tye suddenly gained an extra six months to develop her work. Like all of us, the artist was forced to slow down, a welcome retreat from the busyness of contemporary life.
‘By sectioning the view into shapes, I’m capturing that emotional response to my surroundings,’ says Tye. ‘I’m interested in a practice that swings between responding to the world as I experience it and a creative process that happens outside my conscious awareness.’
Tye had studied art, graduating back in 2000; however, life took her on a journey as an art, architecture and photography teacher, and raising her two daughters. Throughout, she always practised her art; inspired by the years of teaching creative subjects. ‘My art was an escape for when I was working,” says Tye. “I feel like it was this release of what I was already doing.’
Within her practice and process, Tye notices the elements of the everyday and blends them on the canvas — the horizon is integrated with geometries of the built environment. A juxtaposition develops in the artworks, amplified through our engagement with city life, especially one poised between the ocean and bush.
Using the influences of sculpture and maths, Tye is able to divide the composition, building tension of push and pull in the landscape. Each zone in the artwork almost flitters between seasons and weather patterns. A dark and stormy patch gives way to the bright glare of the sun lighting up the rocks.
Sat up high looking over the cliff edge is one of the artist’s favourite spots. A common dream features her flying above, weightless and floating. Tye manages to capture this intimacy with the coastline within her paintings.
The process begins with the artist exploring her surroundings, armed with a camera to capture her viewpoints. ‘My camera is my sketchbook when I go out,” says Tye. “It’s a way to these areas that I can just play and be more intuitive with— it’s become a habit that just happens now, so it’s almost like the mind doesn’t intentionally do it it’s just a process that I’ve been doing for so long.’
Starting with the horizon lines, Tye then goes on to break up the landscape into shapes — balancing the order of the composition in acrylics after moving on from oils. ‘When I first started, I used oils with a really thick palette knife,” says the artist. “But when I got sick, I had to strip back the toxins and use acrylics, and it became more of a drawing process; the line became more obvious, and it wasn’t so thick.’
In the year like no other, ‘A Coastline and Between’ is an escape, the open horizon encouraging the viewer to explore further and open their eyes to familiar places.
Thienny Lee Gallery
5 to 24 November 2020
The Northern Beaches Council proudly sponsors this article as part of the series ‘Documenting Art in the Time of Corona.’
More information about the project can be found here.