Fiona Lowry’s landscape paintings examine the histories and tales of the Australian bush. Her latest exhibition, Out in the Night, continues her investigations into the representation of the Australian landscape as haunted or gothic but through a much more direct response.
“The figures in these new works assume positions that reflect historical religious paintings of sacrifice but also operate as discarded flash frames of un-recollected violence or erotic action,” Lowry says.
The title of the exhibition, Out in the Night is from the heading of a chapter in an Enid Blyton book. “I imagine if a child read this, it would conjure great drama of what the night can sometimes bring,” Lowry says.
Fiona Lowry, The wind and the dust (2016)
Lowry’s paintings are created using her distinctive airbrush technique and a limited palette of soft, pastel colours creating still and silent landscapes that are eerie and mysterious.
Many of Lowry’s paintings draw on real landscapes, in the past she has referenced the Belanglo State Forest and this latest exhibition includes the work, She thinks that tender sighs and cries disappear into currents of wind, which is inspired by the Heysen property in Hahndorf. However Lowry is not depicting the aesthetic of the Australian landscape but rather uses it as a backdrop to stage scenes with figures that have a morally ambiguous nature.
Fiona Lowry, The ellipse of a cry (2016)
“These landscapes are often layered with complex histories and memories, personal and fictitious, whether they are aboriginal massacre sites or crime scenes,” she explains.
Two of the works in this exhibition, Beneath this dry land and The wind and the dust, reference a landscape North of Jindabyne where wild dogs in different states of decay hang from the trees. “These spectral ‘dog trees’ go back to the earliest days of European settlement and this old Eucalypt has been in use for more than 60 years,” Lowry says.
Fiona Lowry, She thinks that tender sighs and cries disappear into currents of wind (2016)
Another work in the show, The ellipse of a cry, loosely references a story Lowry has been working with over the past few years of Black Caesar, an African slave who was freed to England from America only to end up a convict and Australia’s first bushranger.
Not only do Lowry’s paintings reference our history and create a sense of place, they are also a personal reflection on her own relationship with the landscape. While traditional Australian landscapes often depict a romantic view, Lowry’s paintings offer an alternative history by drawing on the darker side of our past.
Fiona Lowry: Out in the night
Hugo Michell Gallery
Until Wednesday, December 14
Header image: Fiona Lowry, Beneath this dry land (2016)