Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings

The Sun Descends, 2014


Artwork about Images of Change at Point Roadknight

From 2012 to 2014 

In this expanding series I always seem to return to this particular landform (apart from the others in far reaches of the continent mentioned in previous blogs). Sometimes this rocky protrusion, jutting into the ocean making a sheltered bay on its northern side, is referred to as “the petrified forest”.

I have tried to illustrate how an early morning photograph taken in 2011 titled  Erosion informed the gouache titled An Abrupt Transition, 2012 and then later quite unexpectedly last year I found layers of handmade paper made years ago at a university weekend workshop. Their textures suggested the appearance of rock. Also found were several frottaged pieces of rice paper taken from the surfaces of these rocks as preliminaries to a commissioned seascape.

The breach at Point Roadknight

The need to return at intervals gets a bit desperate as I hope that the erosion will slow. My quiet desperation comes about as I witness and find myself inadvertently recording gradual and not so gradual destruction of this beloved landform.

There is a transition in the work from the 6 shiny photographs to 5 gouache matte simulated textured images to 3 handmade textures reminiscent of rock and a collage with a piece of failed viscosity etching titled The Sun Descends.

From

I like to observe the way transitioning through different media, using the same or similar subject, often leads into another awareness and reinterpretation about the interaction between structures and conditions. While not a plein aire painter I alway sketch and then carefully draw a subject as a way to sharpen my memory.

It is from memory and contemplation that my imagery arises, placed in an abstracted format with reference to the material object. The texture of the objects can be simulated in paint or another type of simulation that is, either rock-like handmade paper or frottage taken from the rocks in question.

Feelings are not all gloom and doom as my romantic side loves the colour of sunrise, glow of sunrise on rock faces, rock faces reminiscent of ancient ruins and then about 20 minutes after sunrise when the winter sun is in the best position and intensity I photograph their reflections in rock pools and wet sand.

My first attempt at capturing this aspect of the place is not quite as I would like it – a bit pale and wan.

Sand Reflection, 2014

Sand Reflection, 2014

The start a another direction perhaps?

Also at Pinterest


Images of Change at Point Roadknight

IMG_2877

Close up of a pivotal point on Point Roadknight looking toward the ocean.

At this marker on the saddle of Point Roadknight which is about half way along its spiny ridge I noticed changes.

Last year I observed traces of where high tide markers remained after the tide receded, seaweed pitched up by the tide reached the top of the saddle where small circular shapes in the sand remained as traces of small eddies of water.

The image above shows a large and distinct seaweed ‘necklace’ that washed over the saddle and around the vertical rock form from the ocean side into the bay area.

The images below however reveal distinct channels of erosion visible around this pinnacle as I stood with my back to the ocean looking toward the bay, showing in the last image from this series, the view of the ‘necklace’ and the bay.

Within the series of images below are depicted the reverse where I am facing the ocean with my back toward Point Roadknight bay.

The presence of a heavy log as a pointer could bear testament to the force of the waves as they breached the saddle.


Shut It Down

Occasionally I post photographic images of my immediate environment on the Surf Coast at Anglesea, Victoria, Australia.

Behind the town lies a coal mine (brown, wet, thermal coal) and power plant polluting the air with particulates and the highest sulphur dioxide emissions in Australia.

A campaign titled “Shut It Down” by the Surf Coast Air Action (SCAA) has be consciousness raising and has now ramped things up as a window of opportunity has presented itself due to the State election in November. They can be followed on:

Twitter: @SCAA3230

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SurfCoastAirAction

and their website is: http://www.surfcoast.airaction.org

Just from the many artists’ views that I have canvassed around this locality, apart from all the other issues including climate change and health issues, visually we always face an eyesore, one that hints at the bigger one which threatens the National Estate Listed Anglesea Heath and potentially the Otway Ranges National Park.

I hope the day comes when I walk at sunrise and the plume of toxic emissions is no longer a blight on the horizon.


Hildegard of Bingen : a Self Portrait

Self portrait by Hildegard of Bingen, detail, Scrivias f., 1r, 1142 - 1152

‘Self portrait’ by Hildegard of Bingen, detail, Scrivias f., 1r, 1142 – 1152

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) an influential and creative Benedictine abbess from the Rhineland lived at the time of the building of Chartres Cathedral, the evolution of the University of Paris and in the lifetimes of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Thomas a Becket, Fredrick Barbarossa and Bernard of Clairvaux has been an influence on my artwork –  the self portrait and portrait. Hildergard has been described as a poet, artist, musician, scientist, administrator and visionary. In her life time she challenged civic and religious leaders through her writing.

This self portrait could also be seen as part democratisation of an artform , the selfie of its era.

While Hildegard may not have painted this self portrait illumination herself its contents and concept were hers and she would have directed its execution. It shows flames of inspiration arising around her head as she writes watched by her secretary and monk, Volmar. A private instant of conversion “in the process of” self expression freeing her from writer’s block, doubt, subservience and illness due to cultural constrictions. Society thought that women like Hildegard exceptional but at the same time the profession they pursued was deemed masculine.

Flame imagery was associated with Pentecost (Holy Spirit) so in this way Hildegard privatised an emblem that had been reserved for imagery of the apostles. Women’s social functions were subordinated to, or defined by their sexual capacities as someones wife, mother or daughter. (Portraits let alone self portraits were generally reserved for rulers, aristocracy and church dignitaries in a feudal society where they were depicted on coinage, sculpture or etched in stone on cathedral architecture.)

Christian representations of women in the Middle Ages were focused on the opposition of Eve and Mary, seducer and saint. Images of creative women (below) from Antiquity however were acceptable as examples of exceptional persons but distinct from the experiences of everyday women.

Hildergard’s images of self expression and the depiction of the process and technique of producing the image seemed unusual in an era when “doing your own thing” was centuries away.

Self portrait "Thamar" from Boccaccio's De Claris Mulierbus  1355 - 59.

Self portrait “Thamar” from Boccaccio’s De Claris Mulierbus 1355 – 59.

Anonymous, Thamyris Painting, early 15th century manuscript.

Anonymous, Thamyris Painting, early 15th century manuscript.

These images showing women as persons aware of their self identity at that time were truly revolutionary and inspiring.

References

Fox, Matthew, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen. Santa Fe, Bear & Company, 1981

Parker, Rozsika & Pollock, Griselda, Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology. New York, Harper Collins, 1981

Chadwick, Whitney, Women, Art and Society. London, Thames & Hudson, 1990

Art titled Contemplating the Golden Spike 1, 2013, 55x75 cm, gouache, charcoal and pastel from Begin with Sand, Silt and Water


Artwork, preparatory sketches and photographs

These sketches and photographs were preliminaries for the body of work titled Begin with Sand, Silt and Water, 2012 – 2013,  and were a part of my process before and during painting, a part of memorising and reconnecting with original feelings on site.

There is a slideshow on my Home Page where you can see how the paintings turned out.

Photograph of seascape at dawn, Forces of Nature 3, from Point Roadknight


Seascape showing the Forces of Nature

Yesterday with both the sun and tide rising there seemed little to catch my eye. A low misty cloud drifted across the sun. No chance of a colourful image or interesting reflections on wet sand.

As I walked to the point strong contrasts appeared with

Dawn seascape, photograph, Forces of Nature 1, from Point Roadknight

Dawn seascape photograph Forces of Nature 1

Photograph of seascape at dawn, Forces of Nature 2, from Point Roadknight

Photograph of seascape at dawn

Photograph of seascape at dawn, Forces of Nature 3, from Point Roadknight

Photograph of seascape at dawn, Forces of Nature 3

back-lit clouds and rock and ocean spray silhouetted against the sky. As if a ritual site of a sacred landscape I enjoyed juxtaposing the rising sun with a specific rock.


Sunrise Photographs

My expectation and anticipation yesterday as I quickly drove to the beach was to capture the image of the rising sun seen  through a colourful and gradual burnt off low cloud and sea mist. I was sure that if I hurried along the edge of Point Roadknight toward the point I would arrive at the rock edge as the sun rose. Not this time.

As the minutes passed not a glimmer of light or faint glow could be conjured from an opaque wall of cloud.

View from the beach

View from the beach

Cloud at Point Roadknight

Cloud at Point Roadknight

Cloud at Point Roadknight

Cloud at Point Roadknight

Return to the beach

Return to the beach

I thought it a wasted effort and with rising tide I returned to the beach, however the rock profile in the foreground echoed the misty distance. When I momentarily glanced back I noticed how at the same time cloudy mist obscured and revealed  different aspects of the rock formation.

Rising tide

Rising tide

Rising tide and thicker cloud

Rising tide and thicker cloud

White line of foam flows over reflection

White line of foam flows over reflection

Illusion of merged tide line and foggy cloud veil-like appearance

Illusion of merged tide line and foggy cloud veil-like appearance

About to leave when the sun made a feeble attempt to disperse the cloud. Approximately half an hour had passed witnessed by the sun’s position above the horizon line.

Sun and cloud

Sun and cloud

Sun, cloud and wave

Sun, cloud and wave

Before I left the beach two hooded plovers scurried across damp sand and came into view. Moody tonal type of imagery is quite hard to chance upon and was a rewarding experience when I had expected bright pink/ orange almost chocolate box-like misty atmosphere.

Hooded plovers

Hooded plovers

Many artworks including etchings were inspired by forces of nature at Point Roadknight. Some of them are for sale and can be viewed at etsy.com/shop/elainedesterre


Photography about Dawn Clouds

I like to capture unusual almost unnatural graphic romantic effects that can occur at times like sunrise and sunset. Low red light changing quickly to orange as the sunrises can appear to visually distort parts of the landscape making it temporarily alien.  This morning as I walked onto the beach before sunrise I witnessed an unusual cloud formation. I remembered the last time I observed a similar shape as it inspired an artwork titled Dawn Cloud Trajectory, 2010 from a series of artwork titled Return to Sand and Water

Dawn Cloud photographed by Elaine on the 27th June 2013 at Point Roadknight

Dawn Cloud photographed by Elaine on the 27th June 2013 at Point Roadknight

Dawn Cloud Trajectory, 2010, 15x30 cm print, 35x50 cm paper, intaglio and collage

Dawn Cloud Trajectory, 2010, 15×30 cm print, 35×50 cm paper, intaglio and collage


Oil Painting Commission

EARLY STAGES

This commission is centered on a land-form called Point Roadknight situated on the Surf Coast along the Great Ocean Road. Part of my process includes taking photographs and frottage. The photographs show the context, the environment in which the specific rocks that structure this feature of the landscape. The particular rocks are columnar in shape and resemble revealed ancient ruins  as softer material around then eroded. The columnar shaped rocks are hard but also brittle mineralised calcification caused by rain leaching through top layers of the land-form. The painting is about erosion of the rock face and its reflection in pools and on wet sand. I would like the final image to show a partly dissolved structure surrounded by a watery environment. I approach this topic with nostalgia because the rate of erosion seems quite fast as each winter less of the Point remains especially these ” columns”  and their configuration. But first the  visual and tactile exploration.

Point Roadknight reflections photograph taken early morning.

Point Roadknight reflections photograph taken early morning.

Point Roadknight columns erosion.

Point Roadknight columns erosion.

Sand and Reflection photograph with sunrise reflecting on rocks in turn reflected in wet sand.

Sand and Reflection photograph with sunrise reflecting on rocks in turn reflected in wet sand.

These are only three of the many studies that  help me appreciate the action of water and the resulting erosion. I then take frottage from rocks in this area.

Frottage 1 on rice paper taken from rock surface reminiscent of an entablature.

Frottage 1 on rice paper taken from rock surface reminiscent of an entablature.

Frottage taken from transverse section of a broken column at Point Roadknight.

Frottage taken from transverse section of a broken column at Point Roadknight.

Frottage taken from the internal wall of a broken column at Point Roadknight.

Frottage taken from the internal wall of a broken column at Point Roadknight.

I moulded  rice paper to particular rock  textures over which I rubbed graphite to produce a type of print or rubbing called a frottage.

The next stage involved placing the rice paper frottage onto the canvas with gesso where I combined them with a rough ink drawing. Then I poured ink and gesso onto the surface as a way to suggest part of the rock structure. A blue over painting wash consisted of oil painted diluted with gum turpentine.

Underpainting 1consisted of the frottages, ink and gesso.

Underpainting consisted of the frottage, ink and gesso.

Underpainting detail

Underpainting detail

The second ink and gesso layer over painted with the  third layer of gum turpentine oil paint wash.

The second ink and gesso layer over painted with the third layer of gum turpentine oil paint wash.


Women’s History, Invisible Women

Recently I read a book titled Invisible Women Of Prehistory: three million years of peace, six thousand years of war by Judy Foster with Marlene Derlet . Both the text and drawn illustration were made clear by accompanying charts, classifications and time lines. The author/artist Judy Foster drew clear, concise and instructive drawings.

Invisible Women of Prehistory: three million years of peace, six thousand years of War by Judy Foster with Marlene Derlet. Spinifex Press.

Invisible Women of Prehistory: three million years of peace, six thousand years of war by Judy Foster with Marlene Derlet. Spinifex Press. (front).

Invisible Women of Prehistory, three million years of peace, six thousand years of war by Judy Foster with Marlene Derlet. Spinifex Press, (back).

Invisible Women of Prehistory: three million years of peace, six thousand years of war by Judy Foster with Marlene Derlet. Spinifex Press, (back).

The authors give the reader an encyclopaedic overview of the many archaeological finds in the form of sculptures and imagery found on artifacts, figurines, ceramics, tools and on walls of  prehistoric sites where female imagery is predominant. Throughout this world-wide survey the authors argue that society and civilisation were more gender balanced and that women invented agriculture, pottery, writing, and textiles in prehistory, were not war-like and that this was a universal phenomenon. However this benign situation changed when Indo-European invaders ushered in a different type of ‘civilisation’.

Europe during this time span was not the only site of excavation where this imagery was found. So it can now not be seen as an anomaly. Scenes of physical and psychological violence were generally absent and women’s status appeared to be higher than that at present. They challenge the academic resistance to the work of archaeologist  Marija Gimbutas.  Also challenged are ideas that the system we now live in  has progressed from a past seen to be violent and brutal  to the peaceful present.

Many contemporary artists, from the 1960s onward, (influenced by aspects of these theories,  accompanying images of archaeological sites and imagery found in and around the sites and excavations), sought different ways to subvert and go beyond some art historical sexist depiction as well as some contemporary imagery.

On another level I thought significance also lay in challenging the perception of woman as minority which can lead to attitudes where Women’s rights are sometimes not understood as Human rights.  In this way perceptions of the past can have ramifications for the present. As an artist I try to understand and explore origins and meanings encoded in imagery whether they relate to figure or landscape and this book will be a very handy reference.


Last Night

The last night of the trip with Coates Wildlife Tours was memorable and to celebrate the ending and parting from interesting travel companions we built a camp fire. The last camp and meal were celebrated with wine, song and ditties in which we thanked our tour guide Wayne whose knowledge of birds alerted us to every movement among foliage, rock and spinifex, and Director, driver and cook Tom whose skills kept us energised, safe, together and on time.

Last Night campfire

We also had the opportunity to view birds through Wayne’s telescope and identified almost 140 species. Plants also were a major focus as well as fauna. Many different reptiles caught our attention, I remember especially the Golden Monitor lizard in Dales Gorge who wasn’t fazed by people and cameras.

With my photographs, frottages and rock samples I anticipate many hours in my studio  tackling artworks that capture aspects of the landscape.  The geology of particular rock formation influenced the surface topography over time.  I try to replicate aspects of these processes with paint textures and different mediums in which the paint is diluted or thickened.

Golden Monitor lizard


Walga Rock

Walga (Walganna) Rock, 1.8 km long and composed of post-tectonic granite, is one of the many whalebacks scattered throughout the Yilgarn Craton. Situated on the Western section of the craton which consists of rocks of every Archean era with zircons dating back to the Hadean also clastic sedimentary rock. It consists of K-feldspar porphyritic monogranite that forms the type area thought to be approx. 2.5 billion years old.

Walga Rock cave entrance before sunset.

Walga Rock cave entrance before sunset.

Above the gallery situated on the cave wall are large slabs of granite in the process of ‘peeling off’  the main rock form. This process is caused by expansion and contraction of the surface because of extreme seasonal and diurnal temperatures in this inland (300 km), arid climate. Rain water and wind erosion molded and eroded the lower recessed section of the rock.

Walga Rock wind and rain water erosion ' peeling off ' slabs of granite.

Walga Rock wind and rain water erosion ‘ peeling off ‘ slabs of granite.

Wind and water erosion

Wind and water erosion forming cave wall.

The rock overhang protected the array of paintings. The depiction of a masted boat was quoted by archaeologists  as evidence of contact with sailors of European origin, firstly Dutch and then later archaeological evidence suggested a similarity between this depiction and the nineteenth century coastal steamer SS Xantho. (Bigourdan, 2006)

I took a rubbing/frottage from rocks as well as rice paper stains from soil far from the enclosure. They are a way for me to connect with the place via a tactile experience when I return to my studio. Often I adhere them with gesso to the canvas surface.

Walga Rock frottage, 22/04/13, 7.30 am, graphite and pastel on rice paper.

Walga Rock frottage, 22/04/13, 7.30 am, graphite and pastel on rice paper.

Walga Rock paper stain 1, 24/04/13, 7.40 am, soil stain on rice paper.

Walga Rock paper stain 1, 24/04/13, 7.40 am, soil stain on rice paper.

This technique is one that includes quick sketches done on site. Below are previous examples of this mixing of different media which I meld into large oil paintings. They may be viewed on my website : desterreart.com.au and are part of a series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.

Escarpment, 2007, 98x84 cm, oil and mixed media on canvas from the series titled An Archaeology of Landscape. Courtesy of the D. Hutton collection.

Escarpment, 2007, 98×84 cm, oil and mixed media on canvas
from the series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.
Courtesy of the D. Hutton collection.

Water Etching, 2003, 140x120 cm, mixed media on board from the series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.

Water Etching, 2003, 140×120 cm, mixed media on board
from the series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.

Igneous 2, 2004, 214x108 cm, oil and mixed media on canvas from series titled An Archaeology of Landscape

Igneous 2, 2004, 214×108 cm, oil and mixed media on canvas
from series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.

P.S.  Correction: Feldspar should read K-feldspar. The “K”, refers to the Potassium content of feldspar. There are 3 K feldspars: microcline, sanidine and orthoclase (orthoclase and plagioclase, another type of feldspar, are often easily seen in volcanic rocks, they’re usually a milky to pinkish white).


Rock formation origin

Banded Iron Formation resembling a mosaic

Banded Iron Formation resembling a mosaic.

The gradual deposition of sediment and of rock layering record a time during the Archean when there was little oxygen in the atmosphere and the only life forms were bacteria and algae. Banded iron formation rich in iron and silica, while not fully understood,  is thought deposited by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Some forms of bacteria drew their energy from the earth via thermal activity near volcanoes. Others like the ones at Hamelin Pool, 3.5 billion years old, drew theirs from  sunlight through photosynthesis.  Iron derived from volcanic activity survived in the ocean which could have been red-brown colour such as the inland sea known as the Hamersley Basin. The earth’s atmosphere was only thought to be about 1% oxygen and as more oxygen entered the earth’s atmosphere it probably hastened the rusting and sedimentation of the iron laden ocean into this basin for 350 million years. This process and the period of time involved appear to have occurred through an unusually long stable period seen by the formation of up to 100 meter deep horizontal layers of banded iron in parts of the gorges.

Banded Iron Formation seen in Dales Gorge beside the path at the bottom of the gorge.

Banded Iron Formation seen in Dales Gorge beside the path at the bottom of the gorge.

Banded Iron Formation in Dales gorge at the gorge rim

Banded Iron Formation in Dales gorge at the gorge rim.

I noticed that the presence of shale where the iron and pink alternate seemed absent from the rock layering toward the rim. However the surface of the gorge walls in the shot below seem to indicate larger alternate layering and deposition of different rock material.

Banded iron gorge walls near Fortescue Falls in Dales Gorge.

Banded iron gorge walls near Fortescue Falls in Dales Gorge.

Asbestos rock sample on the floor of Dales Gorge

Asbestos rock sample on the floor of Dales Gorge


Rock formation in Karijini National Park

Fortescue Falls made of softer rock grey and pale brown dolomite.

Fortescue Falls made of softer rock grey and pale brown dolomite.

The rocks exposed in and around the gorges we explored such as Dales, Kalamina, Weano and viewed such as Joffre and Knox are mostly banded iron formation and belong to the Brockman Iron Formation part of the Hamersley Ranges. Deposited in the Hamersley Basin over a 350 million year period this formation consists of alternating layers of fine grain quartz, iron oxides, carbonate minerals and chert. Grey or pale brown Dolomite and beds of soft purple or pink shale are also present.

The uplifted and then deeply dissected plateau is called the Hamersley Surface where the gorge erosion probably took place in the Late Cretaceous or Early Cainozoic when the Pilbara gently titled North-Westward. Rivers then cut downward eroding softer shale and Dolomite finding lines of weakness in the joints and faults aiding head-ward erosion. The formation of the Karijini gorges is estimated to have taken 20 million years.

Joffre gorge shows layers of rock formation undisturbed for 350 million years.

Joffre gorge shows layers of rock formation undisturbed for 350 million years.


Karijini National Park

The strong sunlight and heat drenched arid landscape above the gorges was a complete contrast to the flora and lush environment within the gorges. This first general impression left me with a mental image of many light and feathery textures; the soft blue-purple distant ranges with light grey-brown dotted lines indicating foliage or closer ranges sometimes light khaki in colour with rusty rocky ridges. A mixture of middle distance greens ranged from dotted pale olive and sage with dull Naples yellow background followed by foreground yellow and sage spinifex growing from red-purple soil. This image contrasted with the heavy muscular rock forms with strong vibrant coloured surfaces; red iron dark and shiny veins of iron ore as well as asbestos. Rich, lush greens of the vegetation varied from ferns to fig tree roots which like the Snappy gums appeared to hold together parts of the side of the gorge. Large boulders were strewn onto the gorge floor.                                      View from Mt. Bruce

The image above was taken from Mt. Bruce a short distance from the gorges. In the gorges I selected particular  reflections and vegetation as a point of contrast  because they had a ‘Monet garden’ look about them without the horizon.

' Monet's garden 1'  in Dales Gorge

‘ Monet’s garden 1’ in Dales Gorge.

' Monet's garden 2' in Dales gorge

‘ Monet’s garden 2’ in Dales gorge.


Photographic record of Stromatolites

Hamelin Pool  Shark Bay Marine Park

Hamelin Pool
Shark Bay Marine Park

Stomatolite formation

Stromatolite formation occurs in four phases. Firstly filamentous cyanobacteria trap sand grains in mucous. Then heliotropic bacteria lay down a mucilaginous layer. Next sulphate-reducing bacteria form a layer of aragonite crystals. Lastly spherical cyanobacteria bore into this layer making tunnels into which are deposited reinforced crystals of aragonite.


The Abrolhos Islands

Abrolhos IslandsThe Abrolhos Islands

We flew from Geraldton and landed on West Wallabi island. After observing the flora and fauna and hearing of the history of the ship Batavia and the dreadful fate of the shipwrecked passengers I photographed and took frottage or rubbings from several fossilised shells and marine life that form part of the island’s geology.Abrolhos Islands


Journey to the Pilbara W.A.

Leaving Perth on the way to ourImage destination near Cervantes is a well know geological site in Nambung National Park called the Pinnacles. Thought by geologist to be perhaps formed by erosion and glaciation but then revealed by further erosion they appear as a sulphur coloured desert emerging from the coastal vegetation. Continue reading