Helen McCullagh

Emily Imeson

A true sunburnt country with kilometres of sweeping plains. A land that waits patiently for rain and
revels in the apologetic down pour of a flood. Absurd and unique flora and fauna go about their
business and if you are lucky you may meet some. Australia has become my muse, overwhelmed
by it’s sublimity, and adversity.
A quote that has resonated with me since I began landscape painting, “It is by leading [the] body to
the world that the painter changes the world into painting” (Merleau-Ponty 1964). This has become
the foundation of my practice, I paint what is around me. I spend time in the land and am
compelled to create visual odes.


As contemporary civilisation becomes more materialistic, I am drawn to spend more time
immersed in nature. The more I study and paint the environment around me, the more I see the
landscape as a painting. I find humility amongst nature, it is here I am relieved of anxieties and am
reminded that we are nature. I understand a primordial connection between humans and their
natural world. We depend on a healthy environment to survive.
I have been traversing the country for the past 12 months, using painting as a tool to document my
experience, taking notes and trying to understand this diverse and ancient land.
With this need to paint I take materials into the landscape and begin drawing, writing notes and
painting. Without the benefits of a traditional studio I find myself taking advantage of favourable
conditions and space, or make do with what is available (caves, trees, windbreaks/large rocks).
The en plein air studies and journal notes I have built up over the past 12 months have become
references for larger resolved works. Taking opportunities to set up camp for a week or 2 to work
on large lengths of canvas in an ‘outback studio’.


A large country and a huge subject to take on, Australia continues to challenge my practice. I am
forever finding interesting elements of enquiry, with this in mind I need to focus myself and set
limits, and goals. With the overwhelming amount of inspiration I experience, journal work is a major
part of my practice.


Before crossing the Nullarbor plain in May this year I prepared 8 plywood surfaces with the goal of
creating resolved works during the journey. Driving through constant rain during the day and
setting up camp in the evenings, I would paint with receding sunlight. I developed these works by
referencing my journal notes (written during the drive), my memories and my immediate
environment. Last light, combined with the mysterious changing light of oncoming rain, punctuated
by constant rainbows make up this body of work. Chiaroscuro, ‘the effect of contrasted light and
shadow’ is my experience of crossing the Nullarbor.

Mallee Salmon Gums
Mallee Salmon Gums

60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Board Framed $1250

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Dingos Den
Dingos Den

60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Board Framed $1250

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Evening Showers
Evening Showers

60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Board Framed $1250

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Moonlight Melodies
Moonlight Melodies

60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Board Framed $1250

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Ruby Saltbush
Ruby Saltbush

60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Board Framed $1250

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Purple Rain
Purple Rain

60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Board Framed $1250

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Camp
Camp

60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Board Framed $1250

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The Edge
The Edge

60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Board Framed $1250

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Education:


Southern Cross University, 2016, Bachelor of Visual Arts
Lismore Regional Gallery, 2015, Internship
Southbank Institute of Technology, 2013, Diploma of Visual Arts
Upcoming Group:
2019, Memory and Landscape, Allison Kate Bellinger Gallery, Inverell
2019, 25 of 25, Alumni exhibition Southern Cross University, Lismore


Solo Exhibitions:
2019, Memories of Place, Dungog Contemporary, NSW
2018, Experienced Landscapes II, Northern Rivers Community Gallery, Ballina
2017, Experienced Landscapes, Lone Goat Gallery Byron Bay
2016, Portraits of Landscapes, Pearces Creek Hall NSW


Selected Group Exhibitions:
2019, Macquarie Group Emerging Artist Prize, Sydney
2019, John Villers Outback Art Prize, Winton QLD
2019, Beverley Art Prize, WA
2018, The Other Art Fair, Sydney
2017, The Goat Show, Lone Goat Gallery, Byron Bay
2017, The Lloyd Rees Memorial Youth Art Awards, Lane Cove Gallery, Sydney
2015, Transit, Gallery 1.29 Lismore
2015, Calibre, Gallery 1.29 Lismore
2014, Autonomania, Gallery 1.29 Lismore
2013, Aspect, Southbank Institute of TAFE


Awards:
2019, Honourable Mention Award, John Villers Outback Art Prize, Winton QLD
2016-2018, Young Regional Artist Scholarship, ARTS NSW
2014-2016, Rising Star Scholarship, The New Camera House Lismore


Collections:
Northern Rivers Community Gallery, Ballina Shire Council, and multiple Private collections