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Cradle 1

Stephen Pleban
Oil and wax on linen • 152 × 168 cm

‘Cradle 1’ extends upon other paintings I have constructed over the last 3 years that focus on humans connecting and responding to the landscape. The works react to concerns about climate change and focus on the uncertainty of our altering relationship with the natural world. As a painter, I tangle with the landscape tradition and apply highly worked layers of paint and wax in my exploration of formal elements. I celebrate a deep engagement with the physicality of painting.

‘Cradle 1’ is influenced by Kate Legge’s beautifully researched and moving recent book ‘Kindred: A Cradle Mountain Love Story’ based on the life histories and achievements of Gustav Weindorfer and Kate Cowle who were science and nature enthusiasts in the early 1900s. They were central to the establishment of Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair National Park.

Gustav and Kate found their devotion to Cradle Mountain and to one another almost simultaneously. As botanists they gathered specimens of flora and fauna on field trips and had a deep respect for animals who provided companionship, protection and transport. While I have never ventured to Cradle Mountain, it exists as an imaginative, spriritual space in my mind and on the canvas. Legge’s book, that explores the couple’s fight to preserve the wilderness reminds me that the connections between humans and the land are deep, poetic, ongoing and always open to intimate exploration.