As a professional artist and photographer I use both art and photography to build a physical and spiritual association with the natural world. I have found that, through travel and associations with very different landscapes – the built environment of Canberra, the formal gardens of Italy, the ancient archaeological sites of Sardinia, the desert country of Outback Australia and USA and more recently, the coastal environment, I have an ability to engage with the land by turns as a resident, visitor and privileged interpreter to develop a relationship with it.
My work has become part of various private collections in the ACT, Nationally and Internationally. I graduated from Queensland College of Art with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hon) in Fine Art and completed a Master of Fine Arts by research from Monash University in 2007. Since 1981 I have exhibited in numerous prestigious group exhibitions both in Australia and overseas and have had seventeen solo exhibitions. Biography. Photography plays an important role in my work – both as a means of informing my art practice as a painter, and as an artwork in its own right. I have completed a series of digital composite works which use photographs as a base and incorporate found images or figures from my paintings and drawings.
This work predominately examines aspects of the landscape and the documentation of the natural world, together with the interrelationships with people both real and in a spiritual sense. I use parts of the landscape as both physical and symbolic realities which has enabled me to capture linkages to mystery and spirituality.
My focus into the depiction of the unique nature of outback Australia began with time spent working in Tennant Creek in the NT where I managed an Aboriginal Art Centre and a shop in the main street. The job involved a lot of travel from Borroloola in the Gulf country to Epenarra, south of Tennant Creek. I used this opportunity to study Aboriginal culture and their complex relationship with the land. During that time I painted a series of camp dogs which highlighted their character and idiosyncrasies. (see Dogs)
Recent research examined the outback areas in and around Lake Mungo in Western NSW and allowed me to develop a sense of spirituality of that area in respect to its charged heritage. The project resulted in two solo exhibitions Mungo Woman and Hills of Sand I also self published a room brochure which sums up my thoughts and research for the project and also includes an essay by arts writer Ann McMahon. Reviews from both exhibitions and the brochure can be viewed in the Media section.
"These figures are not so much inert or breathless; they appear like sleeping ghosts, protectors of the land, so close to the surface, yet deeply imbedded in it, still releasing their ancient power through the growth of trees and flowers. The fluid body forms resting in the earth link us back to the natural world which sustains us and which we ignore at our peril." Quote from Donata Carazza opening speech at The Art Vault,Mildura.(2011)
With the opportunity to spend more time at the coast, my latest works focus on seascapes and are concerned with space and place rather site. I seek the experience of pure sensation without the burden of specific location or narrative thus creating the experience of being within a vast space. I am fascinated not only by the magnitude of nature, but also its fragility. The works
in my exhibition Shoreline reflect my love of water, the sea and the immersive impact of open water swimming.
"The ocean, is still in many ways unknown – a last frontier. Brenda, as usual, seeks to find ways for us to see a myriad of viewpoints – from within and without, from above and below, from the solid to all that melts into air…..an exhibition born from curiosity, finely tuned observation, hard work and skill. " Quote from Alison Alder’s opening speech of Shoreline at Altenberg & Co, Braidwood. (2017)