A Landscape of Emotions
The Mirror, 22nd September 2010 page 12
There tends to be a large expanse of evocative sky and meteorological atmosphere in the oil paintings beautifully crafted by Julie-anne Armstrong-Roper. Her coming exhibition which features a series of works from sets titled Soliloquy, Sanctuary and Silhouette opening at Meeniyan Art Gallery (MAG) this Saturday is no exception.
The frailty, isolation and changing emotions of humans are metaphorically portrayed by landscape, weather and stark silhouettes of trees that Julie-anne explains are composites of real scenes but do not represent any specific view.
While quick to point out that like other people, she has friends and plenty of positives in her life, Julie-anne essentially sees herself and other artists as separate from society because they are looking in at the world from another perspective.
She commented that one of her soliloquy series were reminiscent of dawn landscapes in the vicinity of Alice Springs, while the Sanctuary series, with an air of seeking refuge and peace, are based on landscapes of Western Victoria.
The Silhouette series feature lone trees lightly anchored to dark landscapes and this exhibition also contains some of her Solitude series of paintings.
Although she has painted seascapes in the past, all of the paintings shown at MAG will be inland views,
Julie-anne will bring some 12 to 15 works to the exhibition and these will range in size from 30×30 centimeters up to 107×90 centimetres.
Although she lives in Melbourne, Julie-anne was linked to the gallery through friends in Leongatha, one of whom volunteers at MAG.
Although her English accent is relatively strong, Julie-anne’s work is entirely Australian, which she attributes to having migrated to Australia at just six years of age.
Given the nature of her art, Julie-anne finds it quite appropriate that her father’s family came from the flat, open sky country of the Norfolk fens.Soliloquy, Sanctuary and Silhouette will be on view from Saturday September 25 through to Thursday October 28.
Despite the excitement of the Grand Final weekend, Julie-anne hopes that an interactive crowd will attend the exhibitions opening from 2.00pm to 4.00pm this Sunday September 26 and talk about the paintings with her.
Exploring different moods of sea and sky
Water, sea and sky have captivated artists for centuries and no doubt will continue to do so. They have been fascinating expressionist artist Julie-anne Armstrong-Roper for several years, which is why they have featured frequently in her recent paintings.
Her work has been widely exhibited since 1991, especially in Melbourne, where she lives with husband Mark in Yarraville. She also enjoyed a major solo exhibition in London a few years ago at Australia House.
Julie-anne is now exhibiting new works, under the title ‘Sea Above Sky’, at the Leongatha Gallery at the invitation of outgoing exhibition coordinator Lerida Watt.
Lerida, who leaves the post at the end of the year, has had a long association with Julie-anne in Melbourne. “Julie-anne’s paintings are rich in colour with a luminous quality that captures those special water and sky moods”, Lerida said.
The painting easily evoke the elemental moods of South Gippsland with it’s fantastic skies in summer and winter, at dawn and dusk, and the grand atmosphere of the wild ocean hugging its shores.
Julie-anne’s early output was figurative, but “faces started to drop out and eventually figures faded out of the works altogether.
“From then on my work has become more expressionistic. Sometimes, with large paintings, I throw paint at the canvas, allowing it to be totally expressionistic.
“But I always make sure that at the finish the paintings are grounded, so that there are reference point for the viewer to hold on to.
“I am intrigued by how changes in sea, sky or weather can influence people’s emotional state.
“To me the sky and movements of the sea are some of the most powerful elemental forces in our lives. They can deeply affect the way we think and feel not only on a conscious level but also subconsciously.
“There is nothing like a blue sky to lift our spirits, whereas a grey and rainy one can have the opposite affect.
“Sea and sky not only influence our mood and emotions, they can also mirror them, and artists for centuries have used them as a metaphor for our state of mind.
“Both sky and water are transient. They change all the time. I’ve discovered that I am comfortable expressing myself in them. They evoke people’s different moods and they express many of my own moods. A lot of myself is reflected in the paintings” she said.
The works at the gallery and oils on canvas and contemplative. The ‘After Clouds, fair weather’ are four large canvases that take the viewer across from storm to rest, from water to sky, from turmoil to calm, or from war to peace in four metaphoric steps.
Other painting come in twos. For example ‘Reflection’ and ‘Reflection 2’, recall the complementary state of Yin and Yang.
The ‘Much at sea’ and ‘Last Pale Gleam’ are the only stand-alone paintings and intriguing because of it. They can be about solitary confusion and loss. But the spirituality of the painting won’t be lost on the viewer, willing to go with the flow of sea and sky – and explore one’s own emotions towards them.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005. The Star