Sense of place is the common thread that weaves through Maria Paterson and Jay Foley’s art works in their exhibition BETWEEN. The landscape, and the artists' response to nature is the most significant commonality between them. Both respond to their different environments of place. Maria’s art is closely connected to the water’s edge and Jay’s art a dialogue with tending his rural garden. Both artists use a variety of mediums and techniques such as drawing, printmaking and painting.
These practices have been honed over many years living in the Northern Rivers, absorbing the ebb and flow of life in the natural world. Standing between what is,and what is felt, each artist interprets and contemplates and intensively studies their respective landscapes, transcending into the moment. An interaction between artist, environment and materials is arrived at. Creating meanings derived from the elements of form.
My recent artworks have been shaped by my responses to the landscape of water I am surrounded by. It is in this space I have found new ways of expressing myself through my art in both materials and connections to the landscape. There are few opportunities for isolation, but I discover a deep connection to this place, evoked by living on the water’s edge.
I am now building my new home and studio by that water’s edge, a time of transition and change. The water is a vast canvas of reflection between sky and earth. Constantly shifting, with unrestricted movement, alternating with the rhythms of nature. It is this fluidity that I try to express. The uncontrollable force in nature, its gentle subtle existence contrasting with its sudden electricity of energy: the interaction between artist, environment and material.
There are a mixture of drawings and paintings in this series. Using drawing mediums such as graphite, ink and watercolour, I can use more direct marks on the surface alongside the uncertainty of water, its fluidity allows my movements to be involved without too much control, and it creates a buffer between me and the need to control every detail of the surface. I often use a feather rather than a brush for this reason. By also limiting my use of colour to more monochromatic palettes in my drawings, I can communicate more depth in my emotional responses to this environment, allowing more scope to create contrast, emphasising the lights and darks.
I want to use the materials in an intuitive sense, letting the artwork dictate direction. Taking that further in some of the works, I take apart the original artwork to reconstruct over another. Overlaying in parts, combining and breaking apart, reforming the pictorial space and creating different modalities in the same work; views reflecting the shifting alternating states.
My paintings focus more on the many layers of colour in this landscape. There are many elements that dictates what that will be for any given moment in this landscape. The reflections of sky and land, time of day and movement of the wind and creatures in and out of the water that create a moving ever-changing canvas that becomes my subject.
I use my surrounding environment here on the North Coast as my subject matter. The tonal shadows and time of day are important. We have a unique light in Australia. I’ve been called a visual ‘land poet’ here at my farm. Windbreaks cool the air in summer and shield other more fragile species in winter. Trees grow within grasslands. Horses and cattle can share open areas with homes for native habitat. My sense of place here on the North Coast is my inspiration.
Home is my studio. The gardens and orchard are like a love story that I then record. It nourishes my soul.
Initial influences were the European, Australian Impressionists and then Californian Modernists. They also used their surrounding environment as subject matter to create their art. Briskly capturing light and shapes in colour and form. I do use photographs at times to record the light. Love it as records.
Mainly I work outdoors in plein-air at home. Paintings are on the ground around me or on my lap. Using acrylic paints and watercolours suits me. I’m somewhat an expressionist in the way I make marks on a surface. I work quickly on compositions layering colour and tones. Working with feelings and intuition in both paint and print. Imagination engaged.