Light, darkness and the painted landscape

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IMPRESSIONIST painters have been fascinated by the relationship between light and dark for centuries.

This theme is explored in visual artist Steve Sedgwick’s latest solo exhibition, Between light and darknessat the Old Butchers Shop gallery in Soldiers Hill.

As part of his practice, Sedgwick focuses on painting realistic depictions of nature on location. When he returns to the studio, he produces abstract landscapes inspired by the smells, sounds and sights he has experienced outside.

“I don’t like the predictable. It must be an exciting process,” he said.

The paintings in the exhibition were created over the past three years, some just before the Black Summer bushfires of the 2019-2020 season.

Sedgwick said he often doesn’t know what a painting is about until it’s finished.

“A painting in the exhibition is monochromatic, quite melancholic, and probably the most abstract, called Charcoal Landscape,” he said.

“It was painted two days before the bushfires. There are a lot of people who love the earth, who love nature and who were really nervous about this coming summer, and maybe I was one of those people.

“When the fires became what they became, I was impressed by how paintings can tap into our subconscious.”

Sedgwick is a former remedial masseuse, yoga instructor and surfer, but has always been a creative, coming through the art school at the University of Ballarat in the 1980s.

He said he continues to be inspired by the knowledge of his lecturers, painter Doug Wright and the late Peter Blizzard, a world-renowned sculptor.

“They took us on all these amazing painting camps and trips. We went to Flinders Rangers, down to the Otways, camping in the Grampians, and that’s where the real learning happened,” he said.

“They were going out into the landscape, working really hard, and that’s a pattern I followed. This connection to place is really important.

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