I am an artist and writer currently living in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. I also spend a lot of time at my old family home on the Hawkesbury River.
I gather my thoughts and share them through several different sites relating to aspects of my current and past work. This site is about being a practicing artist. My work embraces photography, drawing and painting in different media although I prefer working in oils. In 2015 I completed the Advanced Diploma in Visual Arts at WSI-Nepean with a major in painting.
Although I started oil painting in my teens, it wasn’t until after I came back from two years in remote Central Australia that the desire to paint became overwhelming. I started painting pictures inspired by the blues of the Blue Mountains and the reds of the Red Centre. I had no idea what I was doing but I loved doing it. Time passed, loved ones died, suddenly the past was slipping away and I wanted to explore the places I had lived and experienced, the aesthetics of time and memory. This went along with a dedicated exploration of my own genealogical past and the writing of several family-history memoirs some of which are now being published.
In the photo here, taken by my father on a day when I wanted nothing to do with fishing, I sit on a pole and stare morosely into Dad’s old German Leica camera. I thought I might use this image as the basis for a monochrome self-portrait. The house in the background was built by my father and uncle in the late 1950s and replaced the original family house which was built from random bits of tin and board in the 1920s. This old house and the people it drew together provides the basis for my series Monochrome and Memory.
All but one of the people in the photographs below have passed on, although they have populated my memory and inspired my research and writing for decades. In the first go-round for this project I painted a series of black and white oils, each 20 x 20 ins. One or two of them came out well, the others … disappointing.
Apart from the Hawkesbury River, Sydney’s inner-west was my home town. We lived in the same house in Rozelle from 1981 but by 2012 we had to get out. We couldn’t take it any more, the arboricide, the traffic, the aircraft noise and above all the ceaseless sounds of “renovation” and the types who had taken over this gently historical area and were gleefully engaged in the destruction of century-old streetscapes.
So we joined the throngs from the Inner West moving to the Blue Mountains. We have been living in Katoomba (most of the time anyway) since 2013.
I tried to paint the Blue Mountains landscape, the greens, blues and extraordinary shapes. I wasn’t trying for a classical landscape look. I liked the idea of flatness, in the way that indigenous people draw on the surface of the earth, but my painting teacher Tim Allen said that wasn’t right, I needed to use more painterly approaches, with brush-strokes and proper perspective.
Then I started on the built environment. A recent series, Views of K-Town, is based on photographs taken in and around Katoomba, where unique buildings and streetscapes from the 1930s and earlier meet modern demands for tourism and development.
The series tried to capture some of the bizarre juxtapositions and the historical deep structure of this mountains town. I had hoped to complete a full set of 10-12 paintings. I more-or-less finished around six for my graduation assessment and intended to keep going. But other things intervened. In 2017 when I had to give up my studio in Leichhardt I destroyed many of the half-completed paintings which I thought were terrible. One or two survived: the sketch painting below shows a travelling man waiting for a donation, with two of the most beautiful dogs imaginable, outside the historic Gearin Hotel near the Katoomba Railway Station.The Gearin Hotel is now no longer: the building is there but the pub is closed, a sad loss after its long history.
In early 2018 I moved into a studio space in Katoomba and planned to start work again on the Katoomba series, along with some new semi-abstract multimedia works focussing on the close details of the mountains landscape – its botany, geology and visual forms. An unexpected problem intervened and I spent too much time visiting doctors, hospitals, physiotherapists and counsellors. I spent most of my remaining time editing and re-writing memoirs and fiction so they could be published quickly.
In the aftermath of a very traumatic time I returned to where I began and decided to explore landscape painting properly in workshops with painters such as Luke Sciberras, John Wilson, Robyn Collier and others. Then the bushfires hit, then the lockdown. I was going to spend the year painting but it didn’t happen and I still couldn’t finish the writing either. The year flew and by November it seemed maybe everything might come together again. A show with all new work and some long-delayed writing projects published … here’s hoping!
Visit Annette Hamilton Art Writing here
The Writing Zone is here
The Image Field photography site is here
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