Sydney-based artist Virginia Coventry has been showing her work (photographs and paintings) for more than thirty years in Australia, principally at Watters Gallery in East Sydney. The paintings shown here are vinyl and acrylic on linen — the dimensions of soundings # 3 and #12 are 100x95cm and soundings #11 is 95x100cm. They were exhibited in September 2002 as part of a show at Helen Maxwell Gallery, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The following text is from the artist’s catalogue note.
In February at the National Library, looking at Matthew Flinders’ General Chart of Terra Australis … A filigree of markings diagonally adjacent to the landshape represents hundreds of tacks between soundings. I think of the diagonal ‘weave’ of colour-shapes in the three paintings I’m working on and like the word soundings as it comes to mind … There are resonances with colour depths in painting — we think of colour’s refracted and reflected light as containing distances. Colour arrives in relationship, and through its material density, as the tones, keys, and pitches we also assign to sound.
Painting interests me as a performative field where the traces of actions/decisions accumulate. Within this dynamic, the process of working with the depth-flatness paradox is one of confrontation as often as revelation. Forming and shaping what is at first not seen … working with sensations of balance and off-balance, with shifts of focus … looking from and with the body … sensing and marking in movement … successive over-paintings suggesting fluctuations — contingency and potential rather than something closed or ‘essential’.
Nine paintings later, in August, I look at a reproduction of Flinders’ map (no aura this time), and read his notations:
Sometimes I’ve thought of Flinders’ crew shaping land from sea, their boat rocking, yawing, manoeuvring in different light and weather, in seasons without familiar signs, attempting to keep the time. But of course these paintings are not about Flinders’ map — any more than they’re about soundings …
Virginia Coventry, August 2002