Sue Lovegrove: Statement
'Small Dreams' Exhibition Statement
To watch water tumbling down waterfalls is both mesmerising and captivating. To feel its power is energising. The fascination we have with waterfalls traverses time across centuries and ranges from being the subject of tourist destinations, representations of the sublime as well as images of environmental conservation and activism. In this series of miniature paintings of waterfalls, I am drawing connections with all of these ideas.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, Tasmanian landscape painting and photography thrived. Adventurous artists, photographers, explorers and bushwalkers carried their tripods or paint boxes out into the unmapped wilderness of SW Tasmania in pursuit of adventure and the discovery of a new landscape, documenting vistas as they went. At the time, ideas of the sublime, the beautiful and picturesque were standard aesthetic formulae for picturing the landscape. Waterfalls presented the perfect subject matter for the Romantic sublime - an experience of the threatening awesome power of nature, and ultimately transcendence in the face of this untamed wilderness. Small figures, dwarfed by the waterfall, were often included in the composition to enhance the drama and beauty of the view.
In these paintings I aim to invert this notion of grandeur by reducing the size of the waterfall to something small enough to fit in your hand. My intention is driven by the belief that if something is so small and precious you can hold it in your hands, you are more likely to care for it. The notion of the wilderness in the 21st century, rather than generating a sense of fear, is now something that needs our care and protection. The healthy flow of water in the landscape is like blood, it is vital to the health and wellbeing of the planet. These days it is often in a constant state of flux between the extremes of drought and flood.
Waterfalls are never the same for any two moments, constantly shifting and changing – they remind us of the transience and impermanence of the natural world.