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Points of View

Louise Foletta

Galleries 1 & 2

12 - 30 November

Opening Wednesday 12 November, 6.30-8pm

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In May this year my dream to travel the Kimberly Coast by sea and visit the ancient Aboriginal Rock Art was realised. The early morning flight to Broome was magnificent with clear skies and the low light of the late autumn sun. In anticipation of the flight I had equipped myself with a very small sketch book and tiny new Schmincke Watercolour Box. In a narrow seat with a small window, I was able to paint the wonderful rhythms and colours of the Spencer's Gulf area. I painted almost non-stop until we arrived in Broome, taking time out only to take a few photos. I always draw when I travel, but starting with paint gave me a much deeper connection to my material, and it has been an invaluable inspiration for the paintings in this exhibition. I also found I had broken through the barrier of getting started.

Ship life had daunting aspects for painting, however, as we were on a discovery cruise with two hundred guests and crew and a busy schedule of activities. Having made a start in the air I was keen to find a place on deck to paint the incredible land and seascapes with their strong horizontal markings and the magically beautiful colours of the turquoise and aquamarine sea. There is a softness in the skies over the water, and the clouds that gather in the evenings bring indigos and purples to the water and then light up like fire as the sun sinks. The turbulence of the rushing waters in the Horizontal Falls and Montgomery Reef contrasted markedly with the stillness of the tranquil horizons.

On a ship you are moving much of the time and there weren't many opportunities to set up and paint on land. In the King George River I arranged to stay in a zodiac to paint (a croc nearby, so I wasn't moving), while the adventurous tourists climbed to the top of the waterfall. The inspiration from so much new material is taking time to process and there are many ideas from this experience I have still to explore.

The dry country of South Eastern Australia is a passion of mine, so when we had visitors from the U.S. who are both professional geographers with a special study interest in arid lands, it was a perfect opportunity to take them to those areas I know well and have painted many times. My last visit was in 2011 after summer floods and good spring rains, but what a different landscape this year! Areas like Mungo were drained of colour, almost like a black and white photo, until the sun sank and lit the scene with fire.

Driving through this country is visually stimulating, so again I drew and even painted as we hurtled along the outback roads. Stopping to paint was no guarantee of easier conditions as wind, heat, and flies pose particular challenges for a quick-drying and unforgiving medium like watercolour. Nevertheless, it is the spontaneous and momentary nature of the medium that gives its essential appeal. Fortunately, on the day we went to Lake Walla Walla, the conditions were good and I was able to paint at this location which I have done many times over the years. Every time the landscape presents a totally different aspect, with colours dependent on the rain and the sun, and birds and flowers depending on the available water.

Many of the works in this exhibition are smaller in scale, a necessary accommodation to the limits of traveling with baggage restrictions or having cramped space to set up. Even so, the challenge of the smaller scale does not prevent you from capturing the visual essence and feeling of place. My vision and this vivid world come together in paint on paper. I hope you enjoy them.