KATE DOR­ROUGH

Artist Profile - - PROCESS - www.kate­dor­rough.com @kate­dor­rough Kate Dor­rough is rep­re­sented by Art­house Gallery, Syd­ney www.art­house­gallery.com

MY ART PRAC­TICE HAS UN­DER­GONE nu­mer­ous changes and tra­jec­to­ries. Ini­tially I was in­flu­enced by a fig­u­ra­tive paint­ing tra­di­tion, then res­i­den­cies in­clud­ing one at the Cite In­ter­na­tionale des Arts in Paris, and the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with an ar­chae­o­log­i­cal draw­ing team in Tarone, Greece had their pro­found ef­fects.

For some years now my work has fo­cused on land­scape paint­ing, specif­i­cally an ex­plo­ration of what I think of as “the in­land river in an en­dur­ing Aus­tralian land­scape”.

The river is to me a source of fer­til­ity, a vi­tal and piv­otal life force with its cy­cles of re­newal and de­struc­tion. In our na­tion’s psy­che, limited wa­ter re­sources, droughts and floods mark our con­scious­ness. Rivers are po­tent his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural em­blems em­bed­ded in our lit­er­a­ture and vis­ual lan­guage.

Work­ing in the dis­ci­plines of paint­ing and hand-built ce­ram­ics, ex­hibit­ing them along­side each other, I en­joy the cross fer­til­i­sa­tion and in­ter­re­la­tion be­tween the ges­tu­ral painterly mark and the three­d­i­men­sional form; my work is a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween paint and clay.

A month’s res­i­dency at the Art Vault in Mil­dura, Vic­to­ria in 2011, was the ini­tial im­pe­tus for my land­scape se­ries. Mil­dura, on the Mur­ray River, de­pends on the river’s wa­ter sup­ply, form­ing a stark con­trast against the sur­round­ing semi-arid mallee scrub.

In­creas­ingly my work has moved away from any spe­cific land­scape, to be­come my own in­ner rec­ol­lec­tions, a re­duced and ab­stracted essence of the land. The river, the trees, the rocks and broad spa­tial vis­tas be­come a se­ries of signs or totems.

Em­bed­ded in my works are mem­o­ries and rec­ol­lec­tions of my youth, swim­ming in the Wol­lombi Brook, with its shal­low, am­ber gum­leaf-stained edges mov­ing to the cool mys­te­ri­ous deep green um­ber depths. For me the river is a place of con­nec­tion, a jour­ney un­der­taken and a ve­hi­cle back to a slower pace and sense of place.

In my paint­ing ‘Lan­guage 1’, ab­stracted ges­tu­ral cal­li­graphic marks float above an ex­pan­sive space of bleached and stained can­vas. Colours trans­fuse from pinks to gold to blues, de­pend­ing on the heat of the day. The marks made on the land are like a text or a se­ries of mu­si­cal notes, an im­plied lan­guage to be un­der­stood or de­ci­phered. The works ac­knowl­edge our need to un­der­stand the land in or­der to work with and pre­serve its frag­ile ecosys­tems. Writer Don Wat­son, in The Bush, says, “We need a re­la­tion­ship with the land that does not de­mand sub­mis­sion from ei­ther party, that is built more on knowl­edge than hunger to pos­sess.”

In my paint­ing process, I pre­fer to use acrylic paint on li­nen. The flex­i­bil­ity of acrylics al­lows for spon­ta­neous lay­er­ing in quick suc­ces­sion. The tex­ture and weave of the li­nen’s sur­face gives a den­sity, a tenor and depth to the ap­pli­ca­tion. The works evolve in­tu­itively. For me paint­ing is a process of find­ing, los­ing, rub­bing out and rein­scrib­ing. In my own hum­ble way I am try­ing to find my own lan­guage.

Marks in the paint­ing ‘Totems of the land’ have be­come a se­ries of totemic signs, em­blems sug­gest­ing shields, trees and a bird. They emerge, hover and dance across the shal­low pic­to­rial space. The river in the fore­ground re­flects the stars and sug­gests hid­den depths.

The his­tor­i­cal has al­ways been a unit­ing link in my work, such as in the paint­ing ‘Lan­guage 3’. Here, the river is viewed from within and from above, re­veal­ing a lan­guage of lay­ered his­to­ries echo­ing told and un­told sto­ries, or un­earthed mys­te­ri­ous relics.

These paint­ings and ce­ram­ics were first ex­hib­ited in the ex­hi­bi­tion, The En­dur­ing Land­scape, at Cather­ine Asquith Gallery in Mel­bourne in 2011. This was fol­lowed by

The En­dur­ing Land­scape and the In­land River at Art­house Gallery in Syd­ney in 2012. Soon af­ter these shows came the birth of my two sons, so I put on hold my ex­hi­bi­tion de­vel­op­ment for the time be­ing, but not my paint­ing. With an ur­ban home stu­dio, set amongst de­bris of toys, prams and wash­ing, short so­journs to the stu­dio are pos­si­ble. When work­ing I feel an in­creas­ing need to make sim­ple, con­fi­dent cal­li­graphic marks ap­plied with a med­i­ta­tive ap­proach. De­pend­ing on do­mes­tic de­mands, I can then re­turn to these works the next day or the next week. I have ac­tu­ally found this new re­stric­tion has been a re­fresh­ing op­por­tu­nity; fewer marks are made and there’s less chance of over­work­ing. The ma­te­ri­al­ity and tac­til­ity of ce­ram­ics is a di­rect link to the earth. Us­ing a coil­ing tech­nique and hand-build­ing the form over a pe­riod of time mir­rors the process, plas­tic­ity and sen­su­al­ity of paint. There is in­tegrity of pur­pose in mak­ing my own di­rect, un­re­fined forms. Not pro­fess­ing to be a skilled pot­ter but ap­proach­ing ce­ram­ics as a painter al­lows me the op­por­tu­nity to in­te­grate and play with form and the sur­face. Sev­eral lay­ers of shiny shino glaze with un­der­glaze paints, or stains and slips are ap­plied, then all un­dergo nu­mer­ous fir­ings. The iron ox­ide of the stoneware clay bleeds through the lay­ers of glaze on the ceramic sur­face, cre­at­ing an alchemy of glaze, ges­tu­ral marks and clay. An ex­am­ple of this work is ‘Land & shad­ows’, and I ex­hib­ited a group­ing of larger scale ves­sels in The Course of Ob­jects; the fine lines of in­quiry at Manly Art Gallery and Mu­seum, in Syd­ney in 2014. These evoke a sense of mon­u­men­tal­ity, a qual­ity I also hope to en­cap­su­late in my paint­ings. Ceramic ves­sels have al­ways been a pres­ence in my work. I ini­tially ex­per­i­mented with paint­ing on wheelthrown util­i­tar­ian ob­jects which I ex­hib­ited along­side my paint­ings. Then I ex­plored the func­tion­al­ity of the util­i­tar­ian ob­ject, and later pro­duced a se­ries of paint­ings of the ves­sel fo­cus­ing on its totemic pres­ence and sim­plic­ity of form. These jour­neys have led to my com­mit­ment in pur­su­ing hand-built ce­ram­ics as painterly sculp­tural ob­jects with an in­ner po­etic pres­ence. The cur­rent body of work I am de­vel­op­ing will be shown at Art­house Gallery in 2019, ex­hibit­ing both ce­ram­ics and paint­ings. I aim to fur­ther de­velop the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two medi­ums within an in­stal­la­tion con­text, in­tro­duc­ing sound and video, cul­mi­nat­ing in an ex­hi­bi­tion at Man­ning Re­gional Art Gallery, also in 2019.

01 Land & shad­ows, 2014, stoneware ceramic and glaze, 40 x 36 x 22cm, photographer Jenni Carter 02 The In­land River, 2012, acrylic on li­nen, 152 x 168cm, photographer Diana Panuc­cio 03 Lan­guage 1, 2017, acrylic on li­nen, 153 x 168cm, Photographer Jenni Carter

04 Kate Dor­rough, por­trait in stu­dio, photographer Diana Panuc­cio

05 The course of ob­jects; fine lines of in­quiry, in­stal­la­tion view, Manly Art Gallery, 2014, stoneware ceramic with glaze, 55 x 35 x 23cm to 40 x 36 x 22cm

Cour­tesy the artist

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