Small turning II. Beyond the anchoring grounds

The visible sea at a distance from shore
Or beyond the anchoring grounds,
Was called the offing.
The emptier it stood, the more compelled
The eye that scanned it. Seamus Heaney. Squarings. xlvii.

Behind my studio the hill rises steeply, its dolerite ground dry and bare from generations of clearing and grazing. Over the twenty years that I have lived and painted here, the gentle beauty of this unspectacular landscape in the Southern Midlands has become central to my work. The texture of the land and its rhythms has stolen its way into my aesthetic to become the dominant quality in my paintings.

This small painting is part of a new series of work made in response to time spent on the east coast of Tasmania at Great Oyster Bay, Paredareme country. Here too, the history of the land speaks through its textures and ancient contours. I am drawn to the relentless rhythm of wind and tides. To the impossible and exquisite non-colours at the margins of sky, sea and land. To the sun-warmed shells and stones worn smooth by the sea. A timeless, unstoppable process of wearing down.

My paintings are worked in layers over many months, often years. The history of the canvases is evident in the build up of marks and pigment. They track the passage of time, and the process of coming into their own being, seeking to create a connection between myself and the viewer.

Jenny Topfer


Pigment and oil stick, graphite on linen