Matthew Armstrong

Transformed at Night, 2009

oil on canvas

122 x 122cm

From the artist

Nothing is what it seems to be at night, the intensity and sources of light alter one's perspective. Colours change – some merge into the dark, others stand out with greater clarity. The same hill would have been familiar to John Glover, but today's designed landscape and artificial lighting would have been unrecognisable to him. This is not a place that one would plan a special journey to visit for its uniqueness, the blandness of the view may disappoint. It is that special moment in an ordinary scene that I look for and, in that sense, would be an experience not unfamiliar to Glover.

Judges Comments

An atmospheric view of a steeply sloping suburban street captured on a rainy night. The work has some of the eerie, metaphysical feeling of an Edward Hopper painting, full of signs of human habitation, but without a figure in sight. We are told, over and over, that the suburbs represent the true heart of Australia – the place where most of us spend most of our lives. This commonality makes the suburbs so familiar that we can hardly recognise it as a subject for art. In this picture, Matthew Armstrong has worked hard to bring out a side of this environment that we rarely see: a moment when a vague, fiery light in the sky; a wet sheen on the darkened roads, and the tiny slivers of light on power lines and the corners of houses, combine to create a brooding, suggestive atmosphere. It is not a view of untamed Nature or a conventional treatment of the picturesque, but it is a landscape nonetheless – a landscape with which we can all identify, but feel as though we are seeing it for the first time.

Judges: John McDonald, Art Critic, Sydney Morning Herald; John Beard, Artist, Sydney; and Alex Baker, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria

Artist background

Born  Melbourne 1973. Lives and works in Hobart. Exhibited in Tasmania since 2004.

Represented by Colville Gallery, Hobart