Wanderings of the Past and Now

It’s hard to look at Port Davey’s pristine, remote landscape without feeling the enormity and impact of its presence. Particularly as we confront the realities of global warming and the ongoing threats to our most ancient landscapes. Its beauty’s breathtaking, nostalgic of another time. Yet, it’s a landscape of now. And the overwhelming emotions surrounding Covid-19 and the environment’s future have compounded and intensified in this moment.

Perhaps the 19th century Romantics foresaw where we would be today, as they celebrated nature’s beauty in the face of the Industrial Revolution, pollution and plague. Similarly, as I find myself back here, between lockdowns and border closures, I can’t help but feel akin to the Romantics before me, as I ardently honour the sublime.

Here, I’m reminded of the Needwonnee Peoples deep reciprocal connection with land and sea as I explore these waterways and contemplate its past and future. There are moments of stillness, reflection, and an overwhelming sense of wonderment and profound empathy for this land.

Painting this landscape feels familiar, but its sentiments feel more exposed, raw and primal. And my response is visceral, poignant and euphoric. Deeply I exhale, fuelled with immense hope for humanity’s reconciliation with nature.

Jennifer Riddle

2022, Glover Prize Winner

Synthetic polymer on canvas