For over a decade Sue Smallkowski has been observing, sketching and painting the shoreline and escarpment of the Illawarra area. The intertidal zone depicted in her oil and watercolours are characterised by contrasts. The dense lushness of moist, lime-green foliage, like a curtain, can be pushed aside to reveal areas of openness and abandonment. While greenery bends towards grey creek water, delicately woven bird's perch precariously on the skeletons of shrubs. The thematic emphasis on lines and ribbons within many of her paintings suggest not only the passage of nature and the seasons, but also its intricate architecture and finely-woven interconnectedness.
The sculptor Auguste Rodin notes that, "to the artist, there is never anything ugly in nature" and in Sue's paintings the vibrant yellows of the sand, the aqua of the rock pools and lime green of the wetlands are lushly layered while also peppered with surprise bursts of colour capturing the beauty of wetland flowers, bird and sea life. The abstract nature of Sue's paintings however, makes the subject simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. This dichotomy draws the viewer closer to the work, encouraging contemplation through a visual examination of the various painting's intricate processes of layering and scraping. Light is refracted to reveal sweeping paths and to conjure stratums of change. Nature pulses with movement and with regeneration while encased with an abstract, but not untouchable, beauty.
Dr Robyn Morris
Lecturer & ERA Facilitator
University of Wollongong