Exhibition: Wendy McDonald, Witness
Witness is the new collection of works by Wendy McDonald.
Witness is my new collection of works created over the course of 2021. I have lived the landscapes that I paint for over 30 years now and observed changes in the landscape, the environment, in the politics of water and agriculture … I have been a witness. Water reform over the last 15 years was supposedly designed to deliver positive environmental outcomes, but corporate and political influence created, for our region, a series of “Silent Springs”. Without water, our floodplain landscape is sadly quiet.
English writer and environmental advocate James Rebanks talks of being a witness to his landscape in the introduction of his 2020 book English Pastoral. His words “I lived through those years. I was a witness” were timely for me, as they framed so incredibly simply, how I felt about my need to paint our landscapes. My need to record our wetlands and areas of ecological significance in the face of environmentally damaging water policy and my need to enable conversations about how to move forwards and heal these places.
Our farm is on the banks of Thule Lagoon, the ancient bed of the Murray River. We are in Barapa Barapa country, near the Murray in SW NSW. Works in this exhibition are of our private wetland that we are restoring and of Pollack Swamp (an ecological and culturally significant wetland found in the Koondrook Perricoota Forest). Both are significant refuge biodiversity habitats. I am pleased to introduce you to them.
"Artists of all types are our most talented communicators. Claude Monet’s impressionistic paintings of waterlilies remain some of the world’s most powerful wetland imagines. Instantly recognisable his images cross all social and cultural borders and speak to us all individually.
Full appreciation comes through an intimate knowledge of the subject. The wetlands of the Central Murray Region are complex in ecological structure and seasonal variations. Capturing these natural subtleties and differences as Wendy does so skilfully gives an intimate and unique view, improving our appreciation and understanding of these precious and iconic wetlands."
- Dan Hutton, Environmental Consultant, 2020