Belynda Henry


March 29 - April 12 2014

Mountains, trees, lake and water reflections coalesce in an immersive tranquility. We experience the calm rhythm of a landscape reassembled, jigsaw-like from fragments of memory. Belynda Henry has painted other subjects but it is her isolated, rural environment that now exclusively fuels her creative impetus. In an approach to landscape painting that is becoming increasingly imaginal and abstract, the works often transcend notions of ‘place’ altogether. These paintings portray things not only seen but felt and experienced. They extend beyond the realm of physicality into a heightened aesthetic domain.

Belynda lives on a 40-acre property surrounded by national park in the Dooralong Valley, NSW. “It is a long, green, quiet valley. Our house is at the very end,” muses Belynda. “I love driving along on the hushed country road with so many views that inspire me. They change everyday depending on the season, the weather, the time of day and my mood. I can get distracted by a highlighted paddock, the configuration of a group of trees or certain hues that I’d never noticed before. Nature inspires me, particularly the wild trees; the melding of their shapes, form, hugeness and power. Like some enormous jigsaw puzzle they all fit together into the landscape. Shadows are beautiful, especially the shadow of a large tree. It’s not just a shape on the road, it is a thing you can drive through.”

“My paintings are based on emotion and a passion for the colour in my world,” Belynda continues. “I’m not interested in panoramic vistas as much as glimpsed slices of things. The paintings are not just about one remembered place, but an amalgam of many views. I’ve been inspired by Australian painters like Max Meldrum, Clarice Beckett, Polly Hurry and Colin Colahan - artists who seem more focused on composition, tone and colour than perspective. When I look at the landscape, I see three-dimensional forms but when I translate them to canvas they flatten out into two dimensional-shapes, each piece an important component of the whole. It is an intuitive process and I only begin an intensive focus towards the last stages of a painting.”

“I paint at all times of the day and night as each canvas needs to evolve through a series of different states of mind. I turn it, work on it upside down, put it on the floor; work on it from above and on my knees. Draw on it. Flood it with water. Then it starts to boss me around and tries to be difficult. I need to concentrate to figure out this jigsaw puzzle. Finally, it allows me to take over and another landscape is complete. Most paintings take a few weeks, some come easier.”

The exhibition’s large feature work, Jigsaw, presents as a quiet meditation. Fragments of landscape perceptions surface and subside in cool pastel hues. Two tiny flashes of vibratory scarlet lend complimentary accent to the unhurried dance of shapes. Not hard and precise like traditional jigsaw pieces, Belynda’s shapes are soft-edged, layered on with an instinctive feel for form and placement. Deep space is hardly suggested, a sense of poetry eclipsing descriptive detail. “The beauty in my work lies in the many layers. I love it when eventually a painting looks fluffy and soft as washes juxtapose with solid patches and pastel drawing. The pale, creamy skies are always a key ingredient.”

Belynda Henry’s sensitive response to landscape earned her a place in last year’s Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW. She was Finalist in the Tattersall’s Landscape Prize 2003; Mosman Art Prize 2003; Cromwell’s Art Award 2005; Hunter Valley Art Prize 2004 and was Highly Commended, Wyong Art Show 2004; awarded First Place, Wyong Art Show 2003 and First Place, Artscrawl Landscape Award, Pokolbin 2002. Her work is represented in the Elcom Credit Union Collection and the P & O Resorts Collection, Lizard Island and Bedarra Island, as well as private collections in USA, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and Isle of White, UK. Belynda holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University and a Diploma of Teaching.


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