Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings

“Littoral” Blurb

Some artists say that paintings ‘speak’ for themselves but, while I partly agree, I feel that information about artwork increases viewers’ enjoyment and curiosity. I don’t think I’m illustrating words verbatim but I do get inspiration from written source material as well as from other inputs- observation, memory, dreams and many emotions. I like to read blurbs when I look at the work of other artists as it increases my sense of engagement. However my first engagement with another artwork is through its visual impact and my emotional reaction, then I search for the words.

Chatting with the artist- always the way to go. Saturday March 5 from 4- 6pm at:









LITTORAL – Point Roadknight




Particular rock formations on the bay side of this small promontory have resulted in the action of mineralization and seepage over thousands of years. This calcified a system of tree roots that reach through an extensive dune. In this series of oil paintings, mixed media and etchings, my particular focus is on Port Roadknight’s seashore and landforms, an intertidal zone known as “littoral”.





Firstly at this site I recorded by sketch and photograph the changes driven by the forces of erosion. While charting these images over a five-year period I felt a sense of quiet desperation, loss and distress at the evident effects of climate change. The slow disintegration of this intriguing place expresses itself in the oil painting, Point Roadknight Erosion, 2007.



Point Roadknight Erosion, 2007, 92x180 cm, oil on canvas

Point Roadknight Erosion, 2007, oil on canvas






I then focused on a feature within the cliff face, often referred to by locals as “the petrified forest”. Rows of trunk-like ‘columns’, now almost lost to the sea, resemble ancient ruins. Colonnades, porticos and an entablature appear to emanate from the cliff face. An orange layer of horizontal rock runs along its length above the ‘columns’, a vibrant essence I set out to capture in Entablature, 2012.

Like an Entablature, 2012

Entablature, 2012, gouache 52×73 cm








Resurface 2, 2010 and Sand Cradle, 2010 are an allegory, representing how a diver physically and an artist mentally descend into places real and imagined and resurface with treasure or inspiration.


The heavily textured elements in Petrified Forest 1 and 2, The Sun Rises and Sand Reflection, are an example of my handmade paper, which I made from marram grass picked from local sand dunes. I combined these with frottage, using graphite to make rubbings from broken ‘columns’ scattered along the intertidal zone.


In Aglow and Column Shadow, I aimed at how mid-winter sunlight at dawn falls on to the chalky cliff face, making it appear to glow before casting deep shadows on it. As the sun continues to rise this contrast defines the many imaginary shapes that emerge from this section of shoreline.


All welcome to come and chat about the work and that of other artists also exhibiting at 69 Smith Street Gallery in Fitzroy.




Latest Exhibition titled “Littoral”

Invitation from Elaine d'Esterre

Invitation from Elaine d’Esterre

Everyone is welcome and I hope that you can pop in for a chat and view all the gallery’s artwork at your leisure.

Artworks in this exhibition consist of large oil painting, gouache and pastel, frottage and etching collaged onto handmade paper and small etchings. The title “Littoral” refers to the seashore, between tide lines as they meet the rocky outcrop forming a small promontory called Point Roadknight which contains, in part, unusual mineralised shapes sometimes called “the petrified forest”.

Within the artwork in this small exhibition at 69 Smith Street Gallery I explored,  observed, responded, interpreted  and created fantasies about several themes about this environment.  Firstly, the loss through persistent erosion of an intriguing landform, then how some of its elements resembled ancient ruins now lost to the sea. Landscape as memento mori?

Then I depicted a figurative image, a diver who unlike the Narcissus mythic figure, (often used in allegory to describe the process of looking), grasped  meaning from beneath surface reflection.

As well there are 2 small etchings in which I express my romantic streak by depicting craggy rocks at sunrise concentrating on light and shadow. Some other works’ titles are self-explanatory such as, Point Roadknight Erosion, Entablature, the Weathered Columns and Resurface 2.

A Portrait of Thought at Mungo

I have ‘gone through the wringer’ to reach my goal with this painting on gessoed printmaking paper – from warm to cool colours, from an image of artist to poet and from right end up to upside down. Within the progression my aim solidified.

In portraits and self-portraits the artist usually tries to capture what is termed ‘motions of the mind’ where attention paid to the particular person’s expression takes shape and settles into the final visage as interior thoughts reflected through skin, bone and anatomy form by the artist’s mind and hand into a particular type of expression. This portrayal ‘becomes’ a depiction of a type of person, their character, status and position in society or not – perhaps as an ‘outlaw’ from a particular society’s strictures and norms.

Other examples are the icon type of portrait whether secular or ecclesiastic such as the image of, for example, chairman Mao or a deity or saint. In both types, the depiction of eyes raised imagery, the artist aims to direct the viewer by suggestion to the idea of thought existing on a higher plane.

Also there is a type of passport image, usually dead-pan expression a frontal or silhouette aspect where the eyes impartially look beyond the viewer suggesting that this identity is unknown or partially blocked to the viewer. Identity is found by matching dates and names with the image.

Then the selfie image is where the person’s identity is ‘portrayed’ by location, activity and accompanying significant others.

Whether the imagery created by an artist with traditional media or photograph, surrounding objects and elements of architecture are often seen as emblems and symbols that augment meaning contained within the portrait by alluding to ideas outside the image that exist in the real world.

I have always loved many artist of the Baroque for their amazing portraits that show artists’ abilities to capture ‘motions of the mind’ without the inclusion of 20th century expressionist (emotions) or surrealist (the unconscious) stylistic structures.

My aim has been to find a way to integrate and combine aspects of ‘motions of the mind’ techniques and conventions with some knowledge of an environment and place and manipulate parts of each influence into a visage.  Significant parts of the landscape indicate the geological forces of nature below the Earth’s surface. I use imagined elements that are part of this process and combine them with parts of the portrait or self-portrait to try and depict a moment within a thought process so my portraits ‘look’ through a passage of time. Plenty to explore here-how much can one capture on a 2-D surface?


This slideshow requires JavaScript.