03 - 25 August 2019
The works in the exhibition are based on my wanderings and observations of my immediate and surrounding environment both in Balmain and my Blue Mountains retreat in Leura.
I have lived in Balmain since 1982 and as an avid walker have seen innumerable changes, many the result of development and gentrification.
What hasn’t changed is the splendour of its harbour its foreshore, parks and neighbouring Islands.
I walk a neighbour´s dog, usually twice a day, throughout the year and so witnessing the changing nuances of light, dissolving shapes in the mist, or emphasising with stark pinpoint clarity, the buildings and landscape of the foreshore.
The nautical traffic, the ubiquitous harbour ferry´s and continual busyness of the harbours colossal armada of pleasure boats, evidence the healthy co-existence between the inhabitants of Balmain with the recreational pleasures and industrial heritage of the harbour.
In owning up to my influences, of whom there are many, I subscribe to the stance that if you are going to steal, steal from the rich and my heroes are Turner, Monet, Courbet and the Australians Streeton, Roberts, Lloyd Rees and the underestimated and unheralded C19th-C20th painter Llewelyn Jones.
The small sketches of John Constable are dynamite and their spontaneity whilst still packed with topographical information remain invaluable inspiration.
The smaller scale of some of the works in this exhibition, echo the famous 9"x 5" paintings of the Heidelberg School and coupled with the slightly larger 9"x12" enable me to approach a variety of sites rather than focusing on larger paintings which as a consequence of their size require a far greater investment of time.
The familiarity of the Balmain peninsula is etched in my loins and although I was thirty when I first visited, the contours and terrain of Elkington Park, Fitzroy Park and Long Nose Point are as familiar and welcomed as a favoured close relative. The area never remains the same, besides the inevitable seasonal and climatic changes, the vegetation alters development occurs, the marine craft at their moorings change; this pattern of change remains as a reminding metaphor for the continuing change in our own lives.
In my wanderings, I make drawings, sometimes large requiring multiple visits to the one place, other times quick small sketches alongside reference snaps used primarily as an aid to memory.
Whilst working on the underpainting I will often revisit the site on several occasions to assemble further information before continuing the painting often making adjustments over several months.
The Leura Garden paintings and etchings are directly from my garden and from views from my studio window or doors. The seasonal changes in the Blue Mountains are more evident and the cooler climate demonstrates the vibrant autumnal changes to the vegetation. The larger works happen over several months and referencing my initial drawings and photographs to retain the sense of time captured in those initial observations.
My Leura garden has the same personal connection for me as the Balmain Peninsula; I am familiar with it, I am as comfortable with it as I am meandering the streets of Balmain, witnessing the vistas, noticing the fluctuating light, observing the seasonal changes, whilst never tiring of the abundant joy the harbour and my Leura garden provide.
Graham Marchant, 2019
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT
Art Bank, Australia.
New Parliament House, Canberra, Australia.
Australian Maritime Museum, Sydney, Australia.
La trobe University, Australia
Nepean Hospital, NSW, Australia.
Cheltenham Art Gallery UK.
University of Central England, Birmingham, UK.
Hills Grammar School, Sydney, NSW. Australia.