Monday, July 26, 2010

Elizabeth Cummings - Paper Trail: 30 Years

Simpson Desert, Ed 25 2007
Etching 34 x 50cm
image courtesy of King Street Gallery on William

Elizabeth Cumming's recent exhibition at King Street Gallery on William features the gentle, undulating landscape of the Australian outback. Her etchings are exquisitely harmonious, composition gently tempered by the use of warm gold, ochre, violet and rust. She uses a cohesive, satisfying palette of autumnal colours. Desert horizons, a sensual jumble of hill are covered in disorderly scrub. Shallow skies, narrow and sparse, seem almost devoured by ancient, dry land. This is not an endless desert, flat and monotonous. Her landscapes are undulating with small hills and nooks, dotted with detail. Iconic references to windmills, paddocks and cattle are interspersed throughout.

This exhibition, Paper Trail, also features Cumming's abstract works on paper of a more quotidian, domestic world. The artist has drawn inspiration from her home at Wedderburn, near Campbelltown, Sydney. Few appealed to me, they seemed insipid and wan, faintly detailed in wispy pencil and pastel ink. Others in the gallery, however, seemed moved by them. An older, well-heeled woman could be heard loudly speaking with her husband via cell phone trying to convince him to agree to the purchase. Very annoying, indeed!

Aside from the pastel images of dogs and teapots, classic surgery waiting room art, her desert etchings take one a meditative journey. Her use of composition and colour are calming and transporting. When contemplating her desert etchings I felt as though I was in the outback, breathing in pure desert air. I soaked up the warmth and basked in the light.

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