Today I had time to get to the Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney city. As I neither work or live in the city I do not go there often, so when I do visit I become acutely aware of how different the urban environment is there to the more expansive suburban Sydney. The density is significantly higher with more people, taller buildings and subsequently less sunlight. Perhaps due to its unfamiliarity I felt no desire to connect with this landscape and try to paint it. However my suburban ease was appeased in the Gallery of NSW in a large painting by Howard Arkley entitled 'Superb + solid' (1998) painted in synthetic polymenr on canvas . This is unusual as it engages with the suburbian landscape which is often disregarded in Australian landscape painting for the city or the bush. The house seems to be a more modernised take on a federation home perhaps built in the 1950s. The artist has distilled the image so that the suburban home almost takes on an iconic feel of a glossy real-estate photo. The idea of Suburbia has many connotations between a positive and comforting place to an isolating and unprogressive environment. It seems for an urban environment that is so significant and dominant in Australia there should be more artists examining the subject-matter.
The Eastern Suburbs have a great variety of architecture that characterise the landscape. The physicality of the buildings gives an indication of the values and aesthetics of the time that they were built. Though ideas and trends move on these buildings stay static as a stationary reminder of what was. As an artist inspired by the built environment of Sydney I find it interesting to consider these various influences that shaped the landscape we see today. I am drawn to the wide diversity of architecture in the Eastern Suburbs and its ability to seem somewhat cohesive, such that the many influences come together in a way that has a distinct character.
For this blog entry I have taken a series of photographs of architectural details of buildings in Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee. These photos are by no means conclusive but provide a small taster of the finer texture to the landscape. Much of the development of architecture in Sydney was moulded by imported European or American styles which were modfied by the climate and the materials available to build. Some of these styles are shown below.
Watercolour, Chinese Ink and Paint on Bockingford Paper
75cm x 55cm
I do not know if this piece is finished, it might need something to pull it all together. It is larger than I have been working on on previous pieces. I want to find the right balance between abstraction and representation to give a greater sense of the place.
I had lots of interruptions today doing this painting so the finished piece is not what I set out to do. The scene depicted is a junction on a main road in Maroubra with traffic lights, road signs and electricity wires. It is these functional sculptures of urbanity that I want to capture.
Inspired by a recent trip to Hong Kong, a place I grew up I have decided to draw on some Chinese painting influence for these pieces. With my recent use of ink and watercolour it feels like a natural progression to look at Chinese landscape painting. This genre of painting has a deep history in using ink and washes which is more specifically known as Shui-mo-hua. The idea of this form of painting is not to reproduce the subject but to capture its essence. So to paint waves, rather than portraying a static image, the goal is to express its power or movement and to reduce the useless detail.
The emphasis of Nicola Moir’s work is on those familiar ‘in-between’ spaces, capturing the everyday detail of how we know, move through, and imprint our values on the city. These are the forgotton spaces we inhabit between work, home and leisure. They are the spaces where we come together as a community.