Robyn Litchfield

Forest Portal

Jackson's Painting Prize 2021
81 x 61 cm

“My paintings are representations of sublime encounters with pristine and untouched landscapes. I draw from archival material and personal documents relating to the early exploration and colonisation of New Zealand aiming to reimagine and examine the experience of forays into a hitherto unknown space. Landscape becomes a ubiquitous template for exploring personal history, notions of cultural identity, alienation and a sense of belonging.
My sources are photographs; personal archival images and contemporary photographs of primeval landscape taken by myself. I combine expressive gestural mark-making and processes such as scraping, layering and erasure to reveal the luminous ground below. The paint mimics the emulsion on the glass plates of early photographs whose images were revealed by light shining through them.
Recent works include windows through the landscape leading the viewer into a space for contemplation and reflection. The Forest Portal alludes to a threshold which can be seen as a metaphor for transition between modes of being. The primitive red forms placed within the paintings derive from remnants of the stencils developed for earlier works. For me they are symbols of loss; of past life, of primeval forest, the biodiversity that it supported and represent a lament for this loss.”