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Encounter unexpected pairings, new work and rarely seen pieces in this monthly online exhibition devised by SDFA gallery manager, Anoushka Sansom.

July 2022


Janet Dawson, Viola Dominello, Rachel Fairfax, Ashley Frost, Rod Holdaway

Mark-making describes the lines, dots, marks, patterns, and textures artists create when developing artworks. These marks can be anything from loose and gestural to controlled and neat or a combination of both. Land.mark presents the mark making of five SDFA artists as they interpret landscapes around them.


The exhibition includes two rarely seen early prints from trail-blazing female Australian artist, Janet Dawson. These abstracted compositions convey a sense of place and weather through roughly-hewn geometric shapes and quickly drawn line. This atmospheric abstraction finds echo in  Rachel Fairfax's 2021 works, 'Rainy Harbour' and 'Storm'. As with Dawson's prints, Fairfax describes place with recourse to mark-making that is fast, immediate and spontaneous, yet also manages to communicate an element of quiet solitude and reflection.

The softly defined lines of Ashley Frost's, 'Escarpment Study 6', create a sense of slanting sunlight through the bush canopy. The sparsity of hard lines means that when Frost does employ one, it causes the object to pull forward, defining the white gums against the dappled bushscape.


Rod Holdaway also uses this push/pull technique to draw our attention to different objects around the canvas. Fractured wedges of collaged colour sit like shards of stained glass on top of mistily defined blocks of oil paint in 'Cathedral', 'New tower' and 'Wall of the city'. There is a scrapbook-like quality in these works that suggests memories of journeys taken and places once visited. Holdaway draws us into his landscapes with movement and energy, yet like Fairfax and Dawson, there is an element of solitude and silence. In 'Wall of the City' the swirling landscape is contrasted by the lone figures moving soundlessly through the composition. The works suggest memories of travel, but these  journeys are lone pilgrimages of observation and contemplation, not boisterous family holidays.

A stained glass like quality can also be found in Viola Dominello's depictions of the Hawkesbury. However, unlike Holdaway's fractured shards of colour, there is gentleness to Dominello's landscapes. Blocks of colour, though bright, are rendered softly. The blending of edges reduces their weight and sharpness. There is a strong impression that the artist is comfortable in the landscape, familiar with her surrounds, and though alone in her observations there is a quiet joy that contrasts with the edginess of Holdaway's landscapes.

Within Land.mark there is a diversity in the styles and approaches utilised by each artist. However, there is unity in the way in which the artists have employed mark-making as a deliberate tool to create mood and atmosphere as they interpret the landscape around them.

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