OPENING NIGHT 5.30 – 7.30PM FRIDAY 10 NOVEMBER 2023
Penelope McManus has spent the past four years painting the local landscape, wetlands, estuaries, creeks, rivers and oceans of the Bundjalung Nation, particularly around Byron Bay (Arakwal Country).
“As a landscape painter I feel it is my responsibility to document the changes I see in the landscape however most importantly the beauty and wonder that I see every day."
Human beings are the greatest threat to this planet destroying wild habitats with such alarming speed that scientists predict by the year 2050, half of all known species alone today could be lost forever. Collapses across Australian ecosystems are thought to be a result of multiple chronic pressures including rising average temperatures due to the climate crisis, which have created conditions for drought, bushfires and floods.
McManus first visited and started exploring the waterways, wetlands and ocean around Byron Bay in 2020, having moved from the Southern Highlands of New South Wales (her property was destroyed in the Black Summer bushfires).
Moving to the Northern Rivers brought renewed hope and the beauty of the landscape - clear skies, vivid greens, blues and pinks. Songs of the Land refers to sitting, looking, listening and painting this country.
Songs of the Land hopes to connect audiences with the natural world through paintings that evoke feelings of peace, mystery and wonder. By strengthening our connection with nature we will want to protect and look after this vulnerable and precious Earth.
Penelope McManus has spent most of her life living in rural Australia, and has always sought inspiration and refuge in the Australian bush. It’s where she feels most connected to herself and her creativity.
Over the past 15 years she has developed her artistic practice to focus on landscape painting, working plein air to create studies of the local environment. These observations are then developed into larger paintings in her studio in Bangalow. Each painting is created through layering oil paint and mediums which produce a translucency and texture that can take months to dry and be resolved.
McManus recently began capturing the beauty of birds in these environment through the tactile and 3 dimensional form of clay.
McManus connects with her local surroundings and the natural world and her paintings celebrate the beauty and distinctions of the environment, landforms, vegetation, qualities of light, water and fauna. Her paintings conveys the immediate experience of being in nature and her emotional connection to place.