Studio Visit - Belinda Street
We had a fantastic show with prize winning artist Belinda Street at Platform72 last year. The Journey to Arkaroola wass a vibrant mix of paintings, drawings and prints inspired by the dramatic landscapes of the South Australian Flinders Ranges. Here we interview Belinda about her epic trek to the Australian centre for the show.
For an artist, one of life’s luxuries is an artistic escape. Leaving your everyday life and setting off on an adventure to immerse yourself in a landscape for artistic inspiration. Belinda set off on one of these adventures, leaving behind her family, work and home life in Newcastle to explore the Flinders Ranges, South Australia’s largest mountain range.
Rugged mountain ranges, spectacular gorges, and sheltered creeks lined with river gums– a visual feast for a landscape painter! Located 2000kms from my home in Newcastle, NSW, this certainly was going to be an epic undertaking!
This sounds like such an amazing adventure, can you tell us a bit about the journey?
I set off early, around 4am on the Friday morning, full of anticipation and perhaps some uncertainty about the journey I was undertaking. I needed to make it to Broken Hill the first day– about 1100kms, then the 2nd day reaching my first art-making destination, Rawnsley Park Station in The Flinders Ranges. I would spend 3 nights here, then 3 nights in Arkaroola (another 230kms north), before starting the long journey home.
What was your process once in the area?
I set out each day to explore the area, armed with my art materials and fly net (it was just my luck that there happened to be a fly plague the week I was there!). I would take photos, do quick sketches, and move on to explore further. As I became more familiar with this new landscape I would set up my easel for longer periods to paint.
Tell us about the Arkaroola region?
As my journey took me further north, the landscape noticeably became more rugged. Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary features rugged mountains, towering granite peaks, magnificent gorges and mysterious waterholes, the home to over 160 species of birds and the shy and endangered Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby.
I took the famous “Ridge-top Tour” where we journeyed to the depths of ancient seabeds and across razor-back ridges and peaks of the Flinders Ranges most rugged mountains to the magnificent climax at Siller’s Lookout. For me, this was the highlight of the trip, and my memories, photographs and sketches from this tour have provided me with most of the inspiration for many of my artworks.
The trip was about sourcing inspiration, how does that translate back in the studio?
For the past 12 months, I’ve been back in the studio, creating artworks of this unique landscape. I try to keep the immediacy alive by surrounding myself with photos, sketches and paintings made on the expedition. It has been difficult to maintain a rhythm back in the studio, but it’s certainly the environment where I feel most comfortable creating art (where the ants aren’t biting, flies aren’t buzzing, the wind isn’t blowing!). It’s where I am at ease, with all my books and images, and with my music to help with inspiration.
I love the idea of the “thought of a landscape”, can you explain this a bit more?
The studio is invariably where the layers of imagination and memory creep in to further the experience and to capture the essence of the landscape. It is often more about capturing the ‘thought of a landscape’ rather than to depict the overt reality.
“I’m very interested in that area in between representation and abstraction - pushing a painting back and forth, finding that space that is not quite abstract, but not representational either. This kind of variation in my practice is what keeps it interesting, and keeps me evolving as an artist.”