A new exhibition by Sydney artist Michael Fitzjames features paintings of the Blue Mountains and nearby vales and valleys. We asked him about the appeal of the western slopes.
Q: You’re one of our best living landscape painters. Tell us a bit about the challenge of that.
A: Roaming around south-east Oz all my life, where settlers cleared, fenced and planted windbreaks creating almost a ’standard’ landscape, it takes hard looking to establish a sense of a particular place. Step forward species of eucalypt, geology, crops and stock.
Q; The valleys are a new subject, aren’t they?
A: Yes. Getting older and roaming closer to home, I’ve only recently begun to look about the other side of the Blueys. Over the hills but not far away. I’ve fallen for the Kanimbla and Hartley valleys, which in a relatively small area offer a wide range of prospects, with man-made landscape and untrammelled bush, and the backdrop of sandstone escarpment and outcrop.
Q: Something happens visually as one moves west.
A: The light changes somewhere around Mt. Victoria as we pass from the littoral to the great inland. The sky becomes high and mighty, and the shimmering blue of the mountains takes on a different grey-green hue. So close to the teeming coast, but another world.
Q: The paintings are marvellous, yet subtle. I’ve never seen the mountains depicted like this before.
A: I find the grand view overwhelming, demanding and inspiring awe. It’s the modest, quotidian scene that captures my attention, the scene that speaks softly to me and evokes memories.
For more paintings, see here.
Michael’s show is at the Australian Galleries, Roylston St, Paddington, in Sydney. Open 7 days a week, 10am - 6pm until the 4th of September. See the gallery website for details.