The sky is softly changing, standing still through the suns orbit. There is movement and stillness as tangents of pink, orange and purple sway between the silhouette of leaves. It is almost five thirty where I’ve found myself sitting on the golf course that saddles Goolay’yari (the Cooks River). Under the Banksia the sky hasn’t stopped changing, a canvas of spatial movement, a ritual transformation spilling wide, boundlessly, effortlessly. The sky doesn’t resist or refrain from the sun's course, slipping between gradients fading into each other, the light tracing ill-defined clouds rolling softly towards the horizon. There is a stillness. How to put these gentle shapes into words?
Covid-19 has taught us a lot about restraint, a lot about control, isolation and regiment. An experience of doing what you are told, for better or worse, it is happening, happened. Time feels different, but it hasn’t changed. The sun continues its course, yet we have shifted together, our bodies in time, in isolation, unsettled, yet settled, our temporal senses confused. Already it is September. A ritual of the pandemic, I come to the river each day to see the sun moving through the sky. It is changing again, always in a new way that I’ve never seen before. Today it is warm, the colours sighing quietly, settling into dusk. At a time when we all yearn for a sense of connection, the sky becomes one of those places where we can meet, a never-ending breadth that we all look up to, talk to, dream to, a ritual escape to somewhere else.
Interested in using the framework of beauty to explore human relationships with the natural world, Amy Dynan’s exhibition,’Sky Talk' is at once of a shared experience of the natural world, as it is of personal places once travelled. The series of pastel cloudscapes was born from the long drives out in the countryside, getting away and out herself, momentarily forgetting the pandemic. It was here that the sky became a confidant, a companion for aspirations and desires. In talking to the sky the spectrum of our fragile existence became apparent for the artist. This series is meditative, dreaming of family gatherings, personal histories and a nostalgia for togetherness. We can see the experience of moving through landscape quickly and freely, yet confined to the car lingering between the muted marks.
‘Sky Talk’ represents a transition in material practice and process. Departing from charcoal and away from her typical monochromatic palette, Dynan is taking a bold new direction to explore new beginnings with a new medium. Classic burnt colours of the country along the iconic Hume Highway are evoked in the wide pastel cloudscapes, finding a wilderness, depth and longing in subdued thoughtful compositions. The Hume, a path well travelled to meet loved ones, connecting the artist from Sydney to Albury and further south, is trail of familiarity and quiet, of movement and stillness.
It was at the Hill End residency at the end of a turbulent 2020 that Dynan’s focus on the sky and transition into colour solidified. It was intended to be a moment of productive making, but due to health turned into a moment of rest and healing, of being quiet and still, and of spending hours looking at the sky. This time spent noticing and watching were in fact studies that came to consolidate this evolution in Dynan’s practice that we see in ‘Sky Talk’.
Critical to Dynan’s conceptual framework is care for the environment. As the exploitative relationship with the land of Western cultures becomes more difficult to ignore, alternative ways of framing our connection with nature garner importance. ‘Sky Talk’ is a series exploring aesthetic perspectives that evoke the sublime to inspire a sense of care and love for environment beyond the human. According to the artist, to choose to convey the beauty of our land is not to deny the very real decline, but rather to encourage a shift in focus, turning to emotional atmospheres of wonderment and majesty for new direction.
Merging photorealism with abstract sensibilities, Dynan has always been interested in moments of sublimity both within herself and within the natural world. Her drawing practice explores the fluidity between psychological and spiritual shifts in consciousness, something occurring in-between the repetition and routine of the process. There is a happening in the artwork, a breath or shift, which for Dynan is best described as a coming into stillness over an arc of time. Realism can be arduous and rigorous, yet through the layers and discipline Dynan speaks of slipping into an alternate state of mind, a giving in to the work as it becomes its own. In many ways, this tends to her conceptual concerns, to the supple fluidity of the mind and the body experienced in the car seat speeding down the Hume.
In her transportive atmospheres of sky, I feel sensitive to a longing, where the dynamics of light and dark work allegorically to interpret the opposing forces in nature and in ourselves. As a series, ‘Sky Talk’ presents something more than cloudscapes, but a suspension between land and sky, material and ethereal, it is a wanting of being without constraint, control or regiment, a departure from reality, looking to the sky to converse personally and philosophically.
This text was written in response to Amy Dynan’s latest body of work ‘Sky Talk’ presented by Stanley Street Gallery.
I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eroa Nation as the traditional custodians of the land upon which this text was researched and written. I pay respect to the Elders past, present and emerging. Sovereignty never ceded.
Claire de Carteret - writer & curator
Amy Dynan: Artist Statement & Bio
"I use the framework of beauty to explore the relationship between humanity and nature. My large-scale pastel paintings merge photorealism with abstract sensibilities to document moments of sublimity, transition and fragility in nature. The dynamics of light and dark work as a metaphor for the opposing forces in nature and in ourselves, creating landscapes that hover between land and sky, material and ethereal.
For me, drawing is a lens through which the spectrum of our existence is revealed, and a means to marvel at how lucky we are to feel it fully. To this end my work documents nature in flux and celebrates the beauty of what we stand to lose.”
Amy Dynan is an award-winning early-career artist, renowned for her nuanced balance between conceptual rigour and classical drawing skills. Dynan sees drawing as a fundamental means of expression that is often overlooked as a preparatory stage in lieu of master artworks and is driven to continue to contribute to contemporary drawing in Australia. According to Dynan, “drawing is the most intuitive stage of the creative process and I want to continue to bring awareness to drawing as the veritable art form that it is.”
Following a ‘tree-change’ to Wagga Wagga in 2012, Dynan pursued her love of drawing and held her first exhibition ‘Solitude’, an experience which cemented her desire to pursue an artistic practice professionally.Upon returning to Sydney, Dynan pursued a Master of Contemporary Art and Master of Fine Arts at Sydney College of the Arts, developing a strong conceptual framework of beauty as a means to explore human relationships with the natural world.
“As a visual artist, research can offer a deeper, more profound connection to the significance of one’s own art practice in a field beyond the studio. I knew that my passion for drawing, combined with rigorous institutional and art world scrutiny and support would provide the necessary framework to further my aesthetic.”
Dynan’s career has since taken off. In 2019, her solo exhibition ‘Water’ sold out and she was selected for Sydney Contemporary Art Fair; has been a finalist in the Dobell Drawing Prize in 2019 and 2021, and also a finalist in the Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize for 2018, 2019 & 2021. Dynan has been selected for art residencies in France, Norway and Iceland in 2018 and in 2020 in the Hill End, Mornington Peninsula and Gunyah programs.
Amy Dynan: CV September, 2021
Awards and achievements
Dianne Steggles private collection