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Painting Australia -

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(generated from captions) Welcome to Painting Australia, on a unique journey where each week we'll be taking you of our landscape artists, into the very private worlds following their every brush stroke the beauty, the essence, as they attempt to capture on canvas. of this magnificent country through these few days WOMAN: I'm really hoping that

I have with the land. I can transpose that strong kinship other people enter into a dynamic with WOMAN: It's a wonderful chance to who speak the same language. point in my career. MAN: I want this to be a turning and say, I want to be able to look back that was a seminal time in my work. to Ethabuka Reserve, Our artists are travelling the Simpson Desert, at the northern edge of a former cattle station located of Bedouri. two hours from the small town by Mandy Martin, Our location this week's been chosen desert landscape her own. an artist who really has made the colours that inform her work, As you'll see, it's not just the pioneering explorers as well. but the rich history of our with environmental issues MANDY: I'm really concerned read landscape and view landscape, and those bigger issues about how we

you know? so it's really more land art, in 2004, Acquired by the Bush Heritage Fund Ethabuka station is enormous. and now a nature reserve,

that's the same size as Sydney. 214,000 hectares - The reserve is so remote travel more than a day to get here. even our closest local artists had to

40 degrees during the day, And with temperatures reaching this is one tough location. So here's the challenge. see in the context of this landscape Our artists can paint whatever they in whatever style they choose, to do it. but they've only got two days to modern masterpiece. Two days to go from blank canvas (All exchange greetings) Alrighty, tell us why we're here. for me. Well, it's a very special site

panorama, So we've got this wonderful eroded gullies and these fantastic sort of in the sand with lovely sort of ripples and lovely detail in the spinifex and lots of fantastic rocks and a lot of textural stuff. I really want you to take on board So I felt the task or the challenge is to try and observe really deeply, the landscape to respond with humility towards previous practice. structures that come out of your own rather than imposing too many

panorama situated right her with this Bella, I thought you'd be well of these mesas. and all of the interesting forms a little bit onto the plain. down where the creeks wash out here And Noel, I thought for you, where to put you. And Bek, it's really obvious You're down in the gully here. ripples there. There are lots of lovely red sand Thank you. And so good luck. Right. Let's go paint. You bet. Enjoy. out in the open, All our artists are used to working for them, but in choosing their locations

an unexpected challenge. Mandy has given them from Alice Springs Bek is an arts graduate and geologist home in Central Australia. whose work conceptually reflects her many years BEK: I have taught full-time for whilst maintaining my art practice. a particular energy But I think that there is when time is short, that gets generated way to be working. and that that is a really exciting

in the corporate sector Noel threw in a career of Western Queensland. for painting the landscapes to pursue his real passion NOEL: Five years ago, I had my first exhibition, back an say, which even five years later I look "Oh, God, how did I ever do that?" every day. How lucky can you be? I'm doing what I love most a remote cattle station, A primary school teacher who lives on connection to the outback. Annabel's work reflects her strong of looking at portraying ANNABEL: I'm sort altered by human imprint. a natural landscape that has been and what I feel, I guess. strong kinship between the landscape So just trying to portray that As the heat of the day kicks in, our artists start to form their ideas and respond to the desert location. is impossible to ignore. This dramatic landscape As a photographer, through my lens, I felt compelled to capture it response to the landscape but I wondered how this creative like Mandy. is different for an artist looks like in a second, really, I can record what a landscape in an instant. you're required to do so much more. But as an artist use to help me to do that. Yeah, but I've got a lot of tools to you're using. So tell me about the materials Love the ironing board, by the way.

perfect for tall women. Yeah, no, the ironing board's all the time. Don't have to bend over I do work on the ground a lot. important thing. Sourcing my pigments is a really work in this narrative sequence And the other thing I often do is or in a number of panels the narrative. which immediately fragments And, um... home for her distinctive work, Recognised internationally and at Mandy's vast, mythic landscapes and diary extracts often incorporate words from early explorers of history and meaning. to create layers is another specialty, Teaching in the open today's master class. and it's time to start your guidance. I'm sure they'll appreciate things extra tough for Bek. The heat and the wind are making and paper, She started the day with graphite explorer Charles Sturt using words from early European to create a drawing of the landscape. for the last few years I've tended to work and mostly with graphite, fairly monochromatically water colours, and sometimes some limited worked with rubbings. because I've predominantly

right here Given the fact we're sitting blazing colour, in the middle of this what I'd like you to do today with the coloured ground. is actually work And you can still work tonally. This is a red ochre that I just dug directly from the ground.

I just want you to experiment with a few things like that

which start talking to us a bit more about the site. Yeah, look, that's all fine. The ochres are just... Yeah, I do... ..just get a bit touchy with it. I guess... Bek lives and works with Aboriginal cultures where red ochre is traditionally connected to men's business, and has powerful spiritual meanings. I feel a bit sensitive about it, I guess. I know how you feel, because it's a strong man's thing, isn't it? The connotation in Aboriginal culture. In Aboriginal culture, yeah, but we're talking European culture here. Yeah, but we have to approach the landscape with humility. And isn't part of that therefore understanding... Well, you know, if I'd said I'd got sienna in Italy, would that be OK?

You know? Is it where the ochre came from that's a problem?

So I see it as a pigment, which comes out of no cultural heritage. As Bek contemplates her options, Noel has already prepared his canvas with a coloured wash using pigments from the area mixed with an acrylic binder. Would you mind if we just have a look on the ground? We'll just maybe think about making a longer piece. I think you've got a few compositional problems there. And because this is such a vast landscape, you've actually got quite a low horizon, and these Georgina gidji actually come above your horizon, because you've got a low vantage point. Yeah. But you're a big guy. You can handle a big painting in two days. I'll have a go at that. It'll stop you overworking, too, because it's so big. You won't be able to get obsessive about the small bits. OK. Thank you. Thank you. Well. (Laughs) The funny thing is, who's gonna buy a painting that big? In my mind. OK. Get into it. Annabel also uses local pigments and has started sketching in her composition. Hi. My turn. Yeah, your turn. You've done basically what I told you to, asked you to. You've done your compositional rough, which is great.

I love the way you've put your washy pigments down here with all of the... It gives that real feeling of, and texture... I just love the way it falls naturally. The natural pigments just fall wherever they want to a cer... I guide them to a certain extent, and it gives them really good textures. Now, there's one other thing I want to talk to you about. All of these Georgina gidji and the spinifex and so on,

there's as much of the tree under the ground as there is above the ground. And I really want you to think about how those chunks and branches go down and go into the ground, you know, what's happening under the ground because it will affect the way you place them in the landscape. I think I've given you enough to think about. That's plenty, thanks, Mandy. Moving right along. Yeah, that's great. Thank you.

Keep painting. The heat in this beautiful but formidable landscape is simply too much to work in all day. As everyone took a break, I quizzed Mandy about her teaching methods. But then I also wanted to create a challenge,

because I wanted to move them out of their comfort zone. So tell me, for Noel. Noel had a pretty strong preconceived idea of structure.

To me it looks a bit tight and constipated, really. And I wanted to loosen him up. You've got this vast horizon and he had everything boxed in. And what about Bella?

Well, Bella's a bit of a model student, really.

She likes to deal with issues like how pioneer women fit into the landscape, you know, sort of those human narratives. OK, what about Bek? Um, Bek I sort of actually found probably the most difficult, because she's come out of a printmaking background and has this huge reverence towards the sheet of white paper, you know, sort of like it's a god. It just seems sacrilegious to be out here with all of this colour and texture, to then be working in this sort of quite tight way with text and graphite.

Right, OK. By late afternoon, Noel's third panel is well under way. Up above on the mesa, Annabel has the best view. But the exposure to the elements is exhausting. Bek has found a compromise, a has started working with colour, but her methods are worrying Mandy. Hello. How's it going? Good. It's only us. I think really sort of potentially there's more happening here than here at the moment, and we're already at the end of the first day. Because I think you're kind of sitting here writing all these intense little words... Well, for me, when these are worked up, these words reflect the lay of the land, and what I'm actually doing is looking out here, and this text to me, as it starts to build up and gets erased back, it's looking at ideas of how land is constructed through experiences. It's a pretty cool idea. I mean, it's pretty cool and detached. I see it as being incredibly personal. Because the texts themselves are so evocative... But I didn't ask you to write a book. I've asked you out here to make marks which actually engage with the landscape. OK, so look, just sleep on it tonight, see how you feel about it, but you've gotta work pretty fast tomorrow. It's OK. I'm up for it. It's the end of a long hard day. As our artists take a well-earned rest,

I met with Don Roland, A Wangkangurru man and park and wildlife ranger. His people share the traditional custodianship of this area.

So are the plants unique to the area, do you think? Oh, yeah, a lot of these plants. And especially the bush that grows all up and down the sand dune here. It's very particular to this area. It was a very sacred plant and it was used only by the elders. And I'm not kidding when I say it has got aphrodisiac connotations to it, because people who were able to use it were able to walk lots of miles. All the older men, they married all the younger women, so they needed this plant. Staying power. Yeah, for staying power, but it's fair dinkum. I know stories where people walked 60, 70 miles without water. Because they could numb themselves with this plant. Well, there's no denying that there were rather a few heated discussions warming up this desert yesterday, and it will be very interesting to see how those differences of opinion and interpretation play out today. Bek starts the day full of energy, and makes more graphite rubbings of the rocks in the area. But how does she feel now about Mandy's advice from yesterday? Hello! Permission to enter studio. Permission granted! In terms of the actual brief that I was given, I was really surprised at how little say I actually had in what went on.

There seems to be a dislike for graphite as a medium, I guess. Everyone has their own personal preferences. Noel's settled into his third panel, which has allowed him a new freedom with his technique. But Mandy's suggestion to show more sky is a new compositional problem. I've started to do the wash in the sky this morning,

so I just want it very subtle, using once again, the ochre's watered right back down. It's almost like fusion cooking, isn't it? Because you've got these Asian elements to what you think are truly Australian landscapes. Annabel braces herself against another day exposed to the elements. She's using pigments that she has collected from the area as well as some from her private collection. I feel quite comfortable using the pigments. I just love the way that they suspend. And particularly if you use locally found ones too, it immediately grounds the painting to this... I mean, there's no mistaking that that's a red sand hill if you pick up a bit of sand and you throw it in there. There you go. Lots of action again. The incessant heat and flies descend for another day. But the challenges of nature are just the beginning, as Mandy starts her master classes for day two. Well, you've tackled the trees. You got into it. The thing that strikes me immediately is, there are two problems. The trees are too equidistantly placed, the space in between is too similar.

So you actually need to introduce a few more. The good thing is you've really got your earth colours really well, see, you know, this rock. That's just great colour right the way through there. It's all very yellow-green. So I'd like to see some of those reds and pinks coming out. How are you going to resolve the sky?

(Laughs) I was waiting to see what you said, really. Yeah, well, I reckon it needs another wash. So you've got a pretty busy afternoon, but you'll make it, you'll finish it.

OK then. OK. (Chuckles) Am I allowed to say 'pig's bottom'?

Jesus Christ! Us again. Hello! So is this an installation or a continuous work or... Um, I would see it as being a continuous work, I would think. I like the contrast between the two. This looks great with the edges torn off. Yeah, thank you. I did that this morning. And I just want to knock this back a bit here maybe. It seems a bit too straight. I think you're being obsessive about it. Listen... (Laughs) These speak to me... Can you make another one or two of these? Maybe make this into a triptych? Possibly. And it would be your single work for the day? Yeah, possibly. This is lovely work.

It's really interesting, but this is really more the challenge I was hoping you might do. Yeah... I can see you're gonna do your own thing, so you just keep going and it will be a big surprise for me at the end.

I can see that. So terrific. Thanks a lot. Thank you. Annabel's view is so vast and distant that it is possible to perceive the lunette or curve of the horizon. I have before in my work used longitude and latitude to signify the human presence, and I just wondered whether that would create an added interest into that corner. So would you put Ethabuka Reserve, you know, latitude, longitude, maybe the date or something? I could. I could. Which means you can't put a signature in that corner. Which is an issue I've been meaning to take up with you. Ooh, yeah, go on. Alright, Mandy, what's your issue with my signature? Annabel's very keen on putting big signatures in the corner of her paintings, and I just find, if you're gonna use text on the front of a canvas, it's a really integral part of the visual image. It always jars me. My eye goes straight to it. I hope you don't find that too challenging. I find it extremely challenging, actually. We'd better let you get on. So high key colour in the foreground, bigger shapes. And no signature. Thank you. Staying cool under pressure is even more difficult in this extreme hot and dusty place. Bek adds another layer of earth from the area to her work. Annabel finishes the foreground details of her painting,

whilst Noel works quickly, trying to stay relaxed. (Whistles) Half an hour to go! BEK: I think it's taken me to some really challenging places. I think Mandy's comments about my work have given me some new directions to take. ANNABEL: I love being here, but being on top of Mount Blowalot for two days has really taken its toll on me. I feel as though I'm a crinkled old prune. But having said that,

I think the emotion that's come from that has really gone into my work. NOEL: I love painting on location, because I can walk up and I can touch the things I'm gonna paint. I think a lot of it's about your soul. And my soul feels good here.

Brushes down, everybody!

Noel has created a vast, evocative landscape using ochre, oxide, sand and ground rock from the area, which he's painted straight onto the canvas. Bek's work uses layers of pastels and earth from the location, including ash from last night's fire

combined with graphite rubbings of the rocks near her site. Annabel has tried to capture an expressive imprint of the landscape, and like Noel she's used ochres and pigments from the area bound with an acrylic medium. Come in, guys! The moment of truth. Rightio, who's going to start? Well, how did it all go for you? As I said earlier, I was quite happy with the concept of approaching the landscape with humility. So I think on that level I enjoyed thinking about how to pare things back and to focus on essence. Yes, well, I think that comes through immediately, you know, that one colour or one surface or one fragment can speak about many rocks. One colour can speak about all of this colour.

So I think the minimal approach has really worked well for you, but it's only minimal in the sense that you've pared it back. It's actually terribly sort of lush and full of information... Great! other ways, you know.

So I think you've really chosen an interesting resolution. Would have liked to have seen another panel here. I knew you were hoping for a triptych. Yeah, so, good. Thank you. Fantastic. So how did it go, do you think, for you? Yeah, it's been a bit of a whirlwind experience, really. I had a couple of obstacles to overcome, and one of those was just creating that immense depth that you get from this landscape was one, and the second one I was really keen to investigate was the idea of including that human kinship that we have with the land here. Well, what you've actually done is quite classic,

because you've emptied out the centre of your picture plane which is really brilliant. And I love the way you can actually walk into that landscape. It creates this huge sense of depth. And you've managed to bury your signature sort of almost invisibly into the grass. That was my compromise, Mandy. So how did you go, Noel? Well, Mandy, as you know, it was a challenge, And what I've learnt from it has been really tremendous. Well, it's really funny, because in comparison to Bella, she's emptied out the ellipse whereas you've sort of put everything into the middle of your picture plane, which is really quite... Maybe it's a male thing to do, I don't know. And looking at it from right back there, it's just amazing. All in all it balances itself out, and it's a fantastic bloody painting anyway, so you know... It's been fun. It's exhausting.

Well, fantastic. Well done, everybody. Okey doke, thank you. Thanks, Mandy. Good. Do you have a favourite? It's interesting, because Bek, I think in her minimal and simple approach to the landscape, has a very contemporary feel which should really work well in a contemporary gallery. Annabel's I really like because it's a really feminine work. So that's a winner from my point of view too.

Noel's I like because it's so heroic and it really captures that massive size of everything out here. You know, we're on the edge of the Simpson Desert. It's a vast sort of landscape. So I've got a bit of a preference towards Noel's, but then I really like Annabel's and Bek's too. Aha!

Well, that's it for another week,

and three brand-new works to look at on our website. But we would love to know what you think. Until next week, thanks for joining us on Painting Australia. Closed Captions provided by CSI