John R Walker extensive interview in Artist Profile magazine Number 6 2009
By BRADLEY HAMMOND
John R Walker, The Dry Dam, Bedervale, installed in the lobby of Orange Health Service courtesy the Chroma Collection.
“Site” is a small, short, simple word that has complex connotations. In John R Walker’s hands a site is at once the sense of a particular place, portrayed through views that flirt with sight, and an archaeological dig – a layered landscape encompassing immediate histories and deep time.
From Andrew Sayers speech opening the ‘Journey through Landscape’ exhibition at the S. H. Ervin Gallery, 2008
“John’s painting Dawn Tantulean Creek, is one of the great paintings of the landscape to have been painted in Australia, in our time. You cannot pin it down, any more than you can pin down the inexorable change of the dawn light. Here is paint, but somehow it seems to have been made from the very substance of the bush itself; here is colour, the subdued gold of a Japanese screen, but it surprises us coming halfway through our looking, as if to say ‘oh, the light has changed’; here is a composition that oscillates between density and openness, between microscopic incident and broad sweep. Isn’t that the way we experience things as we journey through the landscape – one moment we are attentive, one moment we are content that our seeing is cued by the loose apprehension of the materiality of things? Dawn Tantulean Creek opens up for your – you can walk around in it.”
J R Walker Podcast interview with Sean O’Brien at the S H Ervin Gallery, May 2008
From Andrew Sayers catalog essay for ‘Working in the landscape’ 2007
“The Dry Dam, Bedervale has the apparent simplicity of an iconic image – a picture that could be seen repeated across Australia in the drought years of the early twenty-first century. Yet this is one of Walker’s most profound landscapes in which the quality of the paint has become one with its subject. The Dry Dam, Bedervale weaves together many ways of manipulating the brush and the medium. On close analysis there is not one but several paint-qualities in this work. In the top third of the painting broad atmospheric strokes (light overlapping dark) evoke distant hill and cloud; below there is a thin topsoil of paint and, gouged into that ground, is the dam – yellow, pink and white. The bottom of the dam is a stew of earth, like the very paint from which it is made – once wet, now drying.
The cleared landscape around Braidwood is riven with the effects of erosion. These gullies are historical artefacts, a realisation that Walker brought to Braidwood from an earlier experience of painting around the old gold-mining area of Hill End. At Bedervale, one of his favourite painting sites, is a deep gully in which generations of farmers have dumped car-bodies to stabilise the ground. Here is a landscape with an embedded narrative of change; and here again is the interaction of paint and the earth. Walker’s paint represents the cars with their crazed coatings of duco; his earth pigments render the rust and silt slowly sucking them down into the land.”