X marks the spot _ Arrangement in flesh tones_ View from the artist’s studio in Premaydena looking down over the paddocks towards Ferguson’s Bay, into Norfolk Bay, with Smooth Island and Big Red in the distance, 2022
This flesh toned painting of Norfolk Bay is a deathscape, a memorial for grief. Disease, death and the management of illness are embedded within the landscape of Norfolk Bay, a large body of water closed at Eagle Hawk Neck. The water is edged by the Tasman Peninsula, some say it’s the end of the world, bruised by colonial history and signified as sick. In 1857 the Persian, a ship of Scottish migrants fatally infected with typhus, was quarantined in the old convict Invalid Depot at Premaydena. No fewer than 249 people were buried at Impression Bay Cemetery, Fergusons Bay. More recent boating misadventures have caused victims to wash ashore on the shallow Norfolk Bay. Edged along the roadside from Dunalley to Premaydena are personal memorials making visible the fragility of life. Death at sea, on beaches or on roads are deaths in transit. The band-aid X’s depicted on the painting surface confuse our reading of the paintings illusionistic depth through imposing their own illusion. They also signify loss, sickness and healing. Situated on the surface they are markers of remedy, concealing loss and trauma, a site for healing, and their pink colour elicits a mood that often pervades the bay.
Oil on linen