Lives and works in Melbourne
Represented by nanda\hobbs
7 February — 24 February 2024
In the sun-scorched vastness of Stephanie Eather's creative terrain, the shearing shed becomes a cathedral of toil. Here, time is frozen. The rhythmic hum of clippers and the coarse symphony of livestock merge with the harsh whisper of the Australian bush. The landscape, both stoic witness and stern taskmaster, echoes with the ancient tales of resilience and struggle. Gnarled and defiant, it bears witness to the relentless embrace of both drought and plenty.
Eather's tools, an extension of her hands, move with a grit and determination we have never witnessed so acutely. Evocative, she takes us beyond the acrid tang of sweat-soaked wool—embarking on a compelling exploration of her ancestral tapestry. She transcends the confines of traditional studio introspection. Departing from the conventional, she strives to understand and breathe life into her family's history. The kinetic strength of her observational drawing practice unfolds in landscapes resonant with the echoes of her forebears. Here, Eather seeks not just to document, but to touch and comprehend the essence of her lineage.
As Krauss aptly notes, "if you can remember 'who' you are, you have the necessary associative scaffold to teach yourself to remember anything." Eather draws a poignant analogy between her therapeutic quest for personal history, and the ever-unfolding artist's journey; asserting that the compatible medium is the compass guiding profound self-discovery. For Eather, drawing is how she breathes life into her sense of self, weaving a narrative that intertwines meaningful places, people, and experiences.
A significant aspect of Eather's process is the meticulous ritual of preparing her materials. It is a laborious, yet essential step in intertwining the medium, body, and place. Her latest engagement with gouache becomes a vessel—tactile textures and vibrant colours are drawn from a multitude of experiences. The collision of hues mirror the overwhelming experience of revisiting past landscapes; a vivid reconnection with her own history. Eather plays with the malleability of memory, a dance between form and texture. This departure from traditional drawing methods results in a profound aesthetic experience, where memory and medium converge.
The resulting marks on canvas are not mere images; they are the traces of her body's communion with practice, a testament to the physicality of the artist in relation to the object. This meditative exploration of specific visual memories unexpectedly unveils layers of her past in short sittings. This raw authenticity, unfettered by premeditated designs, becomes a gateway to unexpected images and emotional landscapes. It is a testament to Eather's fearlessness, anchored in the symbiosis of physical presence and her reimagined world.
Through her intimate connection with the Australian countryside, Eather revisits the memory of fourteen different stations across Yorta Yorta and Wiradyuri country. She connects with her family; exploring the experiences of her father and grandmother. The process becomes a journey into the past, contemplating the impact of life choices on her present self.
Her paintings stand as a contemporary chapter in the rich tradition of Australian art. In the spirit of iconic depictions by artists like Tom Roberts and Joan Snyder, Eather's canvas seems to breathe on its own, as if a living thing. Here, the tangible and intangible become one.
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