I came across a photo in a local Adelaide newspaper in 2014. What caught my attention was that this cottage was part of an 18th Century Irish settlement in Kapunda, close to the Barrossa Region North of Adelaide city. It was my first Irish Australian link and solid inspiration for my painting “when it rains it pours”. I find the History, Archaeology and stories of peoples’ way of life from the past fascinating. How did it feel for the Irish who had migrated from cold, wet Ireland? Did they, like me in 2014, arrive in Adelaide and begin to thaw as the intense Australian sun warmed them to the bones? The driest continent in the world with the noisiest most beautiful birds and parrots flying freely tree to tree. My aim was to combine elements of this new story into a visual image with layers of detail from the landscape.
This painting begins as a raw timber board. Black Gesso paint in applied in a think layer to seal the timber. Next green and blue hues of oil paint are blended and layered over the flat black Gesso paint. The Irish style cottage is painted next followed by the flat, blue, open Australian sky. When dried out, designs of gum tree leaves and nuts are scrapped out of the thick blue paint to reveal the green paint colour beneath, block printing techniques within an oil painting. Painted dots of rain fill the sky area, falling down as the rain hits the cottage. In Adelaide the rain falls much louder and heavier than I’ve ever heard it in Ireland. When it rains it pours.
It’s October, Springtime in Adelaide. The forecast for the next few days is 33 degrees Celsius. Beautiful! I step out into my back garden listening to the cawing and loud calling of the Galahs and Cockatoos from the gum trees. I should have known they were trying to warn me – “ Lynn it’s Springtime, all the creepy crawlies, slithery and hairy creatures are waking up after Winter!! ” Oh Yes they sure are. I walk into my art room to grab my favourite little paint brush from the container on the shelf and as I grabbed it a HUNTSMAN SPIDER ran down the brushes. I got THE FRIGHT OF MY LIFE. It was just so quick. And hairy. And brown. And Leggy. Just staring at me. I nearly decided to book a flight back to Ireland. After staring at it for several seconds I realised this spider wasn’t going to leap off the shelf to attack me even though it was the size of my hand. Thank God. In fact I think it was smiling at me! Happy days, I get to live another day and paint and drink coffee.
Dots have been appearing purposefully in my paintings a lot more recently. I’ve been into the South Australian Museum and Art Gallery on North Terrace in Adelaide many times since moving here, to learn and immerse myself in my local Australian History and Culture. Aboriginal culture is incredibly decorative and creative with coloured, layered dot designs featuring heavily on canvas paintings since the 1970’s.
In Ireland, dot designs can be found in the ancient Celtic History and Culture too. Around 800AD, Celtic monks created a manuscript called The book of Kells. It contains four Gospels of the New Testament illustrated decoratively with calligraphy and pen drawings. Red dots can be seen outlining borders, figures of people and animals on many pages. Interestingly, another dot design featured heavily is of three dots together. This design represents the Trinity, God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
The photograph above is a close up of my painting Fragment. The dot designs I’ve incorporated help me to incorporate my Irish past with my Australian future. These dots connect me to something greater especially if I feel isolated or if my past seems fragmented to me.