Art Life , Exhibitions Nov 07, 2014 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

Arriving tens of thousands of years after Aboriginal people first made art upon its shores, non-Indigenous poets, writers and artists have been enchanted with the beauty of Sydney Harbour. From Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Doritt Black to Brett Whiteley and Ken Done, many artists have relied on her glistening physique as their muse. In Verandah Kate Turner Fairfax displays her unique vision of the Harbour in a series of paintings on canvas and board. Centred very much on light – Turner Fairfax’s works are bathed in the sort of glow recalled by Delia Falconer in Sydney, where she speaks of the Harbour’s “strange phosphorescent echo”. Full to overflowing with a dreamy atmospheric each surface shimmers with layers of paint in romantic pastel blues, yellowy greys or various shades of sea green.

Oil on linen

Although we’re made aware of the geographic context, the human presence in these paintings is only evident at the periphery. Featuring painted memories and views from the eastern side of the Harbour, the Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) frequently looms large in the foreground. Favoured for it’s bold aesthetic and drought tolerant qualities, the species was introduced on Harbour shores in the late 19th century. Turner Fairfax employs the palm as a recurring motif – apparently attracted by its exotic appearance and protective nature. Now often conserved by heritage preservation orders, the trees have long been silent observers to the comings and goings of the Harbour. While their shadowy figures remind us that we live on an island, they’re also representative of a connection to worlds beyond.

Until November 27
Liverpool Street Gallery, East Sydney
Pic: Kate Turner Fairfax Sydney Verandah, North Easterly Evening 2014, oil on canvas 183 x 326 cm. Courtesy the artist and Liverpool Street Gallery.

Sharne Wolff

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