The twin peaks of Lord Howe Island rise out of the Pacific some five hundred and seventy kilometres from mainland Australia—a tiny dot on the Azura map of the world’s largest ocean. It was first noted in dispatches in February 1788 by the company of the H.M.S. Supply on its way to Norfolk Island after dropping a thousand souls at Sydney Cove. It has remained relatively unscathed by habitation since its settlement in 1834. Crescent-shaped, the Island was formed from a mighty eruption from the core of the earth. No more than eleven kilometres long and a couple wide, for decades it was a supply stop for whalers eager for fresh water as they pillaged the ocean. It remains an isolated outpost with its own ecosystem - where serenity slides into the water of a thousand postcards.
Early in 2019, Australian painters Paul Ryan and James Drinkwater, friends forged through their mutual admiration of each other’s practice, embarked on their own journey to the island. Both artists have for years delved into the drama and passion associated with the discovery of place—acknowledging the price of exploration of the Pacific, and its toll. Yet, in their heart, they are artists drawn to the spirit of where they make art. The longing for an unexplored landscape is etched deep in their psyche.
Postcards from Twin Peaks is a time capsule of the artists’ endeavours over those few days - the excitement and the desire to record the experience of their journey is locked in for their ongoing studio practice. It is a rare moment for the audience to participate—and is at the heart of the exhibition. We see what they see, we feel what they feel; the sand and the emerald water, the fish and the minutiae of the rockpools. Rising above all is the awe of the grand peaks—Lingbird and Gower, framed with broken Norfolk Pines, yet bathed in the pure light of isolation. Like the notebooks of Matisse in the Pacific or the diaries of Banks' artists on Cook's Endeavour, inspiration and validation of the human spirit morphs into one.
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