My paintings represent night-time environments that are contradictory, ambiguous and often unacknowledged, like the unhomely home or landscape that belongs to neither nature nor culture. As much psychological spaces as physical ones, my aim is to activate this fluid link between self, space and meaning.

The photograph from which I made this painting was taken at a playground in Cataract Gorge, Launceston. I was interested in visiting and photographing this place as it fulfilled some important criteria for me. It is a landscape with strong, moody, artificial-light which causes the world to fall into stark contrast, lending a cinematic quality, and contains complex, interwoven layers of signification.

Right on the edge of Launceston, the Gorge exists at the intersection of nature, culture and history. A natural playground, it echoes Romantic ideas about the role of nature and the sublime – as a counterpoint to the ills of modern society. Yet with its playgrounds and peacocks it also reflects the devolvement of those ideals into wilderness parks as places for pleasure and spectacle. It could be said that the complexities of our human-centric and historically entrenched relationship to the natural world are in some way expressed here, and mirror tensions found in the greater landscape of Tasmania.

I found the pretty plastic ponies riding through the verdant Tasmanian forest a particularly evocative image – an introduced species recalling the invasion of this island. They are also symbols with a strong pull on the subconscious. There is a dream-like quality to this image. I have dreamt of riding horses through both familiar and unexpected environments. To me they represent power, freedom and escape. There is always room in my work for the personal. The image I present is a moment in an open ended story where the viewer must arrive at their own meaning.

Halinka Orszulok

2018, Glover Prize Winner

oil on canvas