The importance of red, and my own private Eden

I wake up later this morning, lying in bed for a while, its cold this morning but no wind and wild weather, just a clear crisp sky. I start the day with some writing, in the background an interview on RN commences, with an ex-Sotherbys auction house employee, very British, who has just released a book in which he studied what art sells well. He starts talking about the power of red in paintings, and how paintings with red in them seem to sell 50% more than other paintings without red. I instantly think of Melissa Smith and what she spoke about yesterday at the Handmark opening of a ‘love of red’ in her work. Then I hear him say, ‘serenity is everything… a nice smile will sell.’ What the… is this guy for real? Hooray, after a few more minutes talking he finally says that this whole study has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Rocky Cape coastline

But he continues on and starts discussing landscape, ‘good weather, blue sky and dappled sunlight sells well, bad weather does not sell well.’ Well that’s just great! Identified landscapes are also popular and sell well, explaining that people like to feel like they have a connection to the subject matter when they look into a landscape picture. Yee har! He goes on for some more but I zone out at the end feeling depressed that my landscapes do everything he says doesn’t sell. Well in one way I am secretly pleased about this. Yesterday I was thinking about beauty when driving back to home-base, this kind of reiterates a little of my thinking. Should art be beautiful, why should art be beautiful?

My mind wanders and I think about looking at a sunset, like I have been doing much of over the past few weeks, I think about some of the broad sweeping views that I have seen on my many walks and drives over the past few weeks. I have always thought that sunsets are too extreme in their natural grandness to replicate with art so I’ve never gone there. I feel somewhat similarly like this about broad sweeping views, which perhaps is why I like to zone in on detail finding different sorts of landscapes within them. My head needs some air so I take a walk out in the sunshine of the day.

Before I started this residency I picked up an A5 tourist brochure about the north west of Tasmania. Within it is a short chapter titled ‘Boat Harbour Beach, Sisters Beach and Rocky Cape’. It uses words like, ‘just lazing about’, and ‘picture perfect playground’, and ‘relaxed sun soaked summer holiday’, as well as ‘white sands and azure waters’, and finally, ‘you can sun soak on the beach and marvel at your fortune in having this exquisite coastal Eden largely to yourself,’ the brochure doesn’t really tell me much, but there is an intriguing photograph of North Cave taken from what appears like the side of Flagpole Hill that I have been looking at ever since I started this. I’ve walked around this area a few times but have not found a vantage point like the one in the picture.

North Cave from Flagpole Hill

So I head up Flagpole Hill, veering off the path and through the knee-high scrub over towards the edge of the hill. It’s easy navigating my way and after not to long there is North Cave from a similar angle as in the tourist photograph, the outcrop that has North Cave in it from behind looking like a little island, or a smaller version of The Nut or Table Cape. I traverse my way down to the North Cave track, then back onto the road to home-base. As I walk back down the road I think of the photographer who’s steps that I have just walked in, perhaps it was Joe Shemesh. Then I notice David Keeling and Nicholas Blowers paintings everywhere in the bush that I’m looking at. I’m pretty sure that Keeling has painted this area before, but I’m not sure if Blowers has been here. Landscape that reminds me of painting.

Back in the shack, the rest of the afternoon is spent drawing, sketching down some of the rock formations in black and white, trying to keep my mark loose and zoning into detail. No film tonight, bed at a reasonable hour.

David Keeling trees