G.W. Bot: Riverbend Glyphs

The hardships endured by the landscape are often left recorded in various formations that await discovery. G.W. Bot is a printmaker, painter, sculptor and graphic artist who has created through her work a personal language in the form of glyphs. Her drawings, relief prints, metal sculptures and ceramics take inspiration from the wavy lines that crawl up bark to the twigs that lay broken and discarded. The often unnoticed markings found in rocks, trees and shrubs influence the artist’s narrative about the Australian landscape. G.W. Bot continues to read these fine variations and underpin the realities of a threatened environment that is in need of restoration. Her recent exhibition, ‘Riverbend Glyphs’ pays homage to Sidney Nolan’s Riverbend (1964), a ten-metre long immersive panorama that is representative of the Australian bush. The exhibition includes large-scale graphite and watercolour drawings, relief prints, steel and bronze sculptures and ceramics.

Your name was derived from the early French explorers’ term for the wombat, ‘le grand Wam Bot.’ Why did you choose it?
According to Aboriginal totemic belief, each member of a clan inherits a totemic relationship with a particular plant or animal of the region.
I like this idea of oneness with the environment.  Where I live wombats are especially prevalent and they have become my totemic animal.

You have created your own glyphs that are reflective of your personal relationship with the Australian landscape. What elements of the land do you search for and draw out in your works?
In my work I view nature and the landscape as active collaborators, they are part of me and I am part of them. The glyphs as well as the artist are witnesses to change and raise the alarm about impending catastrophe – environmental disaster through climate change, over-development and threat of global conflict.

Printmaking is one of your primary mediums. Can you discuss how you produce your works?
I am a lino cutter and I also work with painting, drawing, sculpture and more recently, ceramics. Linocut relief printmaking for me is a form of relief sculpture, the paper is the landscape itself. I print most of my work, at home, in my studio with an etching press – BB Press.

Do you plan each piece beforehand? How long does it take to make a finished piece?
The image might start from an idea, a dream but grows organically in its own way once cutting commences. The time taken to create a work of art is what it takes – a week, a month, months or years, there is no formula.

Is your practice changing? If so, what direction is it heading in?
Just as the landscape around one is constantly changing so too does one’s work. However, at the moment I do feel an urgency to defend the landscape. I am drawn to the British scientist, James Lovelock’s thesis of Gaia. One of the facets of the Gaia philosophy is that humankind is but one species in the world and if it is destructive to the whole, it may itself become extinct.

Australian Galleries
3 to 22 May, 2016