“Turn with your back to the beauty of the water and the lure of the verdant, undulating landscape lies ahead. There’s a mystery as to what is hidden beyond the curving corners of the tracks and roads,” imparts Melbourne-based Cathy Quinn. The title of her current body of work, Hinterland, not only references actual places she once visited but also vistas the mind can kindle – “the possibilities of what lies beyond the mountains.”
“These recent works are memory paintings,” says Quinn. “They are expressions of how I felt in certain places and times.” She tells of managing to escape between the many Victorian lockdowns to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, “leaving the dark, cold days of Melbourne for the warm life I had been dreaming of.” The paintings depict her visual encounters when driving inland to Pomona’s Mount Cooroora and Yandina’s Mount Eerwah, both striking volcanic plugs towering above the landscape. “There was a particular lookout point where I stopped and soaked in the view and sketched until I wore out the patience of my travel companion,” she recalls. “Back on the coast I had experienced extraordinary colour-saturated sunsets and gentle sunrises. White sandy beaches looked out to the blue, blue waters of paradise, yet it is those mountains rising up like termite mounds that continue to capture my imagination.”
For Quinn painting is a means of shifting consciousness from the troubles of the outside world. In the studio she awaits the moment when the fleeting recollections of her hinterland experiences again reveal themselves. “My sketched observations intertwine with imagination. Associated memories invite themselves into the space and there my landscapes grow before me,” she divulges. An intuitive artist, Quinn affirms that the element of chance is an integral part of her process. “The act of painting is ever changing and wonderfully surprising. When I’m in a state of flow the work talks to me. Sometimes we argue which results in a lot of push and pull and then we are friends again, cooperating and enjoying each other’s company.”
The resultant shimmering paintings are a synthesis of inner and outer realms. Rather than being realistic representations, Quinn’s paintings seek to convey the experience of an immersion in landscape. Perceived topography has been divested of solidity in the flow of oil medium and spontaneous gesture. “It is my hope that the paintings evoke an emotional response and that the viewer will navigate their own way into my constructed landscapes and find something special for themselves in there,” concludes Quinn.
Having grown up in Melbourne, Quinn subsequently spent many years living in London and Hong Kong. She has been an exhibiting artist since 1985. Her training includes: BA (Fine Art) at Chisholm Institute (now Monash University) majoring in printmaking and sub-majoring in sculpture, Christies Education – Australian Art, 1997; Studio & Practice Development, La Trobe College of Education, 2010. In London, Quinn worked for London Contemporary Art and Grenville Gibbs Corporate Art. Upon returning to Melbourne, she became the Australian representative for London Contemporary Art. She managed the NGV Business Council at the National Gallery of Victoria and has volunteered her services to Christies, Hong Kong and the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria. Her awards include: Invited Finalist Tattersalls Landscape Art Prize, 2019; Finalist St Kevins Art Show, 2018; Winner St Kevins Art Show – best modern painting, 2016; awarded High Commendation Lucato Prize, Chisholm Institute,1985.
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