Field Notes brings together seven artists based in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, all acknowledge their personal ‘field notes’ as highly relevant to their creative process. The exhibition is at The Zone Gallery and Creative Hub, an organisation run by Catherine and Richard Muldoon to support artists in realising their creative potential. This intimate showing of artworks and their related notes reveals the unseen creative development of ideas for new works, a change in direction and medium for some artists, and an enduring passion for artistically re-creating life experiences.
—Nicky Carey, Kim Herringe, Annie McIntosh, Richard Muldoon, Gary Myers, Belinda Stanton and Laura Vecmane —know each other, but they have highly disparate practices. They are printmakers, painters and ceramicists, with photography playing a key role in their creative development. The idea of revealing their experimental notes alongside finished artworks resonated with each, and the exhibition concept was set. At the exhibition opening, five confirmed the importance of their notes.
Laura Vecmane uses diverse media for self-expression. The essence of her artworks are light and nature. Vecmane uses collected objects and slowly considers compositions before making sketches. In Vecmane’s Composition Study series, her field notes include a collection of ceramics, not made by her. Photography and a time-lapse video of the ceramics, as light moves across them, are also key to her colour selections and compositions. Vecmane’s works seem inherently interconnected, but her two dimensional work does not necessarily lead to a three dimensional sculpture. Her works are intuitive, and she describes colour as the only formal connection between them. According to Vecmane, she uses organic materials, such as chalk paint, as it is more subtle than synthetic materials. The tonal construct for her series is inspired by Italian still life painter Giorgio Morandi; quotes from him and Vecmane’s questions on light form detailed field notes. These still life compositions exude a simplicity of muted tones. They are flat portraits, but it is the light touch of colour differentiation that adds dimension to the works. The notes for this series are well-developed and coherent. There is an experimental element too, but the notes guided Vecmane’s ideas into pleasing finished artworks. Vecmane’s clay vessel sculptures continue her tonal palette while offering a more textured aesthetic. An ethereal beauty is formed in these works by including found natural objects that can be interchanged.
Kim Herringe is a multi-disciplinary printmaker who finds this process-driven art form meditative. In her new series, Sky dancers, Herringe observed a flock of yellow-tailed black cockatoos. She used photography to map their flight path and recall the shapes they form, with notes, sketches and poetry further developing her artistic concept. Herringe has used Field Notes to explore a new printmaking process, blind debossing. She is known for her reduction linocut printing, etching, and cyanotype printmaking, particularly through her workshops. With linocut printing, Herringe can see the end-state before she starts, it is necessary for the work. For the debossing process, Herringe must experiment with and document a trial-and-error process until she finds the re-creation of nature that she seeks. While Herringe’s usual artworks are flushed with colour, she also finds comfort in white space. In this latest series she has focussed on the white space. Herringe has spent years in observation before creating notes for the Sky dancer series. These notes are deep research material ensuring the colour, form and movement in her prints are accurate. The works are understated and yet intriguing, they make a complex process look ever so simple. With close looking, one can see a delicate picture within a picture and movement within a static artwork.
Belinda Stanton has recently expanded from ceramics to experiments with painting. Stanton also uses photography as a starting point for her ideas. She combines loose linework from her photos with abstract imagery from memories and dreams. Stanton describes this current series of work as awkward and uncomfortable but as necessary for breaking out of her creative comfort zone.
Richard Muldoon is a photographer and artist. His continuing Date Stamp series turns personal photographs into paintings. In his studio, Muldoon uses the thousands of photos he has taken over his lifetime to source an image for painting; he seeks a special photo that captures the essence of a person.
Annie McIntosh is an abstract painter who finds objects in her daily life to develop a new reality. With her failing eyesight, she ‘sees’ differently from others. Her imagery is song-like and lyrical, like the rolling hills that she walks daily. McIntosh also recalls experiences and turns these into scribbled charcoal drawings, then paints the abstract form, often with collage elements.
Field Notes’ artists wanted to share insights into their creative practice. Their field notes provided a context for their work, giving viewers a deeper understanding of their artistic expression. Some artwork ideas were well developed, others still experimental or in concept, yet all of the exhibited works succeeded in providing new avenues into the exhibited artists. The exhibition also provided a safe space for the artists to develop new concepts and all of the artworks shown provided a discrete personalised reflection on life.
Viridian Harris is an emerging art researcher, writer and curator working on the Sunshine Coast.