University Of Tasmania
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The memory of water : familiar and strange

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posted on 2023-05-26, 05:26 authored by Weeding, HP
The principal aim in undertaking this project was to discover, through the discipline of painting, a pathway to analysing my emotive response to a particular body of water. Water's ability to reflect and distil emotion, while simultaneously evoking memories, has been a significant factor in my investigation. How was it that something so familiar could simultaneously appear strange? This question derived directly from the experience of observing the flooding of the Cataract Gorge in Launceston in 2009, where a vast body of water was narrowly confined by the Gorge cliffs. In my earliest work for this project the grid was used as a means of capturing the essence of the containment of these waters. As the project progressed the grid receded. The process of re-framing the paintings by attaching them to a stretcher after completion raised the question: to what extent can water be shaped? By re-framing, my focus moved to an analysis of the opacity of many layers of paint and glazes without the distraction of the edge, generating a further research question: to what extent is what is remembered ephemeral and/or influenced by experiences felt at the time of observation? Initial experimentation included a variety of media, including watercolour, ink, acrylic and oil-based paint. Paper was my preferred surface until early 2011. By finally choosing to work on canvas, the paintings attained more depth and dynamism. This was achieved by underpainting in acrylic paint, and overpainting in wax paint paste and oil glazing gel, mixed with oil paints. Using a variety of card, palette knives and occasionally squeegees to apply the paint, both random and purposeful marks reflected the often ambiguous nature of both memory and water. I make reference to artists who articulate the uneasy position between perception and analysis such as Rachel Whiteread and Ian Burn. For David Hockney, memory is comprised of individual layers, while Kathleen Petyarre, Sandy Gellis and Patrick Grieve utilise various grid formations to map their familiar environments. Negotiation of the uncanny, between containment and open-ended potential, is exemplified by Carlo Scarpa. The artists Peter Sharp, Tim Maguire, Annabel Nowlan, Richard Woldendorp have responded variously to emotion, reflection, familiarity and the sublime. The Memory of Water traces the awareness of the multiple levels of conscious and unconscious thought/feeling co-existing in the remembered experience of particular sites.


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Copyright 2011 the author

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