Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


“Mungo Strata Exposed”: a painting commission

This commission began several months ago after an exploration of Mungo in printmaking ie etching etc media. Now returning to this topic, a combination of collage and oil, I feel a freedom painting on a larger surface. The surface consists of canvas on board which lends itself to application of any material with a staple gun.

The first image consists of printmaking paper onto which frottage images, taken from surfaces of Lake Mungo’s terrain adhere. In the background are oil washes that loosely resemble dunes behind the clay pan. The frottage was done with graphite in the left section and in the central area I combined it with part of the clay pan and clay/sand mixture. The paper in the right hand area had been moulded to the surface of the land leaving sunken shaped into which ink settled as well as grated pastel.

The piece of frottage dated 2001, lay in my plan draws until not long ago as I have found it difficult to get my head around how to express the feeling of total exposure and blinding light when first arriving. And while I studied it geology and history and took my usual approach of collecting data, I still couldn’t find a way into it.

I think I was side-tracked with a sense of romanticism due to spectacular sunsets and sunrises so stunning in a desert and which are popular subjects esp. for photographers. Anyway, the second stage as I felt my way into a composition began with tearing away excess paper, making cut-out areas into which I poured paint.

IMG_3709Close up of  2 sections

Also I blocked out with masking tape pieces of frottage that didn’t need paint yet or at all.

Teepee Firing at Muddy’s She-Shed

A teepee firing was conducted beside, newly renovated and yet to be opened more formally, Muddy’s She-Shed. Muddy’s She-Shed at 5 River Reserve Road, Anglesea, Victoria was ‘on the map’ and the exhibits in situ were

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held in conjunction with the Surf Coast Arts Trail. Paintings, poetry, prints, ceramics, sculpture and drawings were viewed by a steady stream of visitors.

I had not witnessed a teepee firing of ceramics before so I was amazed to see the process that consisted of making a kiln from wood palings covered with shiny paper (kaolin ) and slip which stuck the paper to the palings. Ceramics placed inside the structure rested on wire and sawdust accompanied by seaweed and minerals that when fired added earthy colours to the objects ( pots and sculptures) for this second firing. The time taken from ignition to teepee collapse and cooling of contents was several hours, three to four from ignition and a few hours for cooling.

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The Golden Spike Revision

Saved from the dustbin, just, but still out on probation. The original intaglio in black and white  in the lower section of the image remained mostly unchanged, however, the multi layered problematic top area consisted of gold leaf covered with beige handmade paper. Not working so partly ripped it off leaving the small rectangular image of the partly revealed “golden spike”. I changed to horizontal format and added semi transparent handmade paper that allowed the underneath to show through producing a quite grubby atmosphere.

I returned the composition to a vertical format and added some collage elements with the intention of conveying in this depiction the idea of a return to the gorge where it was difficult to locate the landform termed “the Golden Spike”.

Pilbara Revision: “memento mori”

I returned to last incomplete artwork about the Pilbara in Western Australia where ancient rocks termed the Banded Iron Formation, 2-3 billion years old reminded me of memento mori  paintings. In the traditional versions of this topic a figure holds a skull contemplating life’s fleeting span. As an alternative, I get a buzz from observing geological layers in particular landforms that like a type of calendar remind me of my mortality.