Victoria Peel
01 - 23 September 2018


I have lived and painted in St Albans, Hawkesbury area for over 20 years. In this series, I worked almost exclusively from the deck of "The Blue House", which looks down over the village to the pub, beside The Macdonald River. On the far bank the slopes rise to an imposing sandstone escarpment. The escarpment is composed of sand deposited by an ancient river 250 million years ago... a presence in the land, which I imagine was still more powerful for its first people.

As a way of navigating the landform I look for rhythms of light, shape and colour, preferably the last light as it gifts the Australian bush with depth and mystery. Then forms are hidden, revealed or transformed. The shifting light reveals the bedrock of the escarpment.

At first glance the rocks are grey, but small caves and overhangs display the unweathered, true colours of the sandstone.
These paintings are a love song, a celebration of the Valley and an exploration of the alchemy of light...

The painting "TWILIGHT REFLECTION" captures the light of the Rectory tin roof. Reflecting the sky at twilight, it is the lightest form in the landscape, appearing almost as a spaceship – a stranger in a strange land. Whilst in painting "SPOOK" I used the shadows to partially conceal the white thoroughbred which regularly galloped past the kitchen window. Or grazed along the edges. It gives me a sense of another time in my childhood, as do the images of "THE OUTHOUSE". Here the fall of light transforms the common place.
The four studies of the escarpment , "SPRING VALLEY", "SUMMER HEAT", "AUTUMN SHADOWS" and "WINTER LIGHT" enabled me to find a visual language in which to explore its structure and composition. Completed over the four seasons, I experimented with different coloured grounds in preparation for the final painting of this series, "MAGENTA SKIES". The red clouds reflecting the last light of sunset put me in mind of JMW Turner – how he created space and the elements through planes of colour and light.
Rich in contrast, the wholly native vegetation of the higher slopes contrasts with the combination of exotic and native trees and shrubs of the valley floor. Here organic shapes contrast with the geometry of man-made structures...

The painting "THE DOMESTIC AND THE SUBLIME" acts as a metaphor for the delicate balance of man and nature; and three works, "THE HEART OF THE MATTER", "HOMAGE" and "LOOKING WEST" are a homage to John Peart, my first lecturer at the National Art School, then referred to as East Sydney Tech. John was a friend, mentor, wonderful painter and teacher.

Lit from a kitchen window "FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT" remind me of the unexpected, whilst "SETTLERS ARMS" is the familiar old stone pub at the heart of the village and the meeting place for much of the community...
It is the beauty of this land and the sense of community that holds me to this area...

Victoria Peel, August 2018
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