By Emma-Kate Wilson
Artist Fiona Chandler’s latest collection of works, I know that rock, muses on another lockdown. However, within this comes the sense of peace and reflection — especially when isolated on the Sydney’s picturesque Northern Beaches.
In I know that rock, she meditates on the familiarity of the landscape, a sense of questioning recognition. Patterns unfold, colours reveal, and the light touches differently. This deep pondering in lockdown has given her time to reflect and see her surroundings from alternating perspectives.
The collection also uncovers Fiona’s love of watercolour, exploring the materiality, depth of colour, and layers and layers. She is able to contain the colour spectrum within one painting; varying shades and tones reveal themselves. Often faced with the comment, ‘I can’t believe it’s watercolour’, I know that rock is the result of her efforts to push the medium on canvas.
Watch the video for more about the collection from Fiona herself, and the story behind the name.
She depicts the varying elements of the natural landscape almost at one with the watercolours. The paintings capture the feeling of touching and falling into texture, realising colour, all through the visuals. Depth of the medium is contrasted with the negative space of canvas, akin to the headlands and ocean touching the vastness of the horizon.
The use of diptychs and large canvases explores the limitlessness of her local environment — the works connect us to her surroundings and encourage us to do the same. We are invited to view the Australian environment again and notice the never-ending changes.
Paint saturates the canvas, imprinting line and form, like the thousand-year-old rocks that have watched humans go by. We are just one part of the timeline. The paintings capture that vastness; colour merges, the tactility of the rocks divulged in puddles of light and texture.
Fiona urges us to look beyond the fact this is yet another lockdown show, into the real colours of the rocks, a palette formed from sitting, observing, and collecting snippets of colour as the sun hits differently throughout the day. She muses on the unexpected pleasure of the mixing, granulation, and depth — an art practice full of infatuation with the medium and colour palette.
I Know that Rock can be seen through the windows of Sydney Road Gallery (if it’s in your LGA) from 2 to 19 September 2021 or via the video above.