‘Quietly’ Suspended Landscapes By Wendy McDonald

Following a year of extreme drought in 2018, artist and farmer Wendy McDonald describes using her painting practice as a way to respond to the extreme, beautiful and challenging landscape.

From the cracked creek beds and open saltbush plains surrounding Thule Lagoon on the Murray River floodplain, Wendy has produced a new body of work, Quietly. Opening at Koskela in Sydney this past weekend, the series embraces the shifting qualities of place. For Wendy, love of the land means understanding the environment in all of its guises: ‘if you don’t bend, you may break.’

Miriam McGarry

Sandhill and Saltbush, Noorong, acrylic on linen, 122 x 101.5cm.

Wendy on the farm. Photo – courtesy of Koskela.

Left: Black Box, Thule, acrylic on linen, 36 x 36cm. Right: Dry December, acrylic on linen, 36 x 36cm.

Artist Wendy McDonald with her works from ‘Quietly’ on at Koskela Gallery in Sydney. Photo – courtesy of Koskela.

Looking Out, January, acrylic on linen, 36 x 36cm.

Night Lagoon with Tall Trees, acrylic on linen, 81.5 x 91.5cm.

A pastel palette in Wendy’s studio. Photo – courtesy of Koskela.

Left: Study, Hot Night, acrylic on linen, 26 x 26cm. Right: Study, Track to Dam, acrylic on linen, 26 x 26cm.

Miriam McGarry
28th of January 2019

Wendy McDonald studied Education and Psychology at University, but has always been drawn to a creative practice. When teaching in rural areas, she relished the opportunities to share her artistic streak with students, and later developed community arts workshops for adults. Ten years ago, Wendy transformed a farm cottage into a designated arts studio, where she could commit more time and energy to her own painting.

Wendy’s artistic work is underpinned by her farming profession, and she describes these two threads of her life as ‘so entwined, it would be impossible to separate them.’ She explains ‘to be a farmer requires the ability to be adaptive and resilient… and to derive a deep satisfaction from the cycle of input, growth and creation.’

This deep understanding of the ebb and flow of natural processes has informed Wendy’s latest body of work, Quietly. The works provide the viewer a hazy sundrenched glimpse into small moments of Wendy’s local landscapes. The exhibition is directly informed by the 2018 droughts that have reshaped the Murray River floodplain, and challenged the lives of farmers and residents. Through Wendy’s loving gaze, she demonstrates place-making as shifting and changing, in relationship to a ever changing environment.

The works in Quietly have an ambient quality – a milky stillness, and a respectful grandeur. Wendy’s work, inspired by the writing of Bruce Pascoe and Eric Rolls ‘sits here quietly whilst recognising the power of this land and its arid beauty. It embraces us and we must embrace it.’

Quietly by Wendy McDonald
January 26th to February 24th
1/85 Dunning Ave
Rosebery NSW


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