'Canvas as Sanctum' by Joe Frost for Artist Profile features Stephanie Eather's recent N\H solo 'From Vernon Terrace'

11 March 2024

Anyone who has ventured to express their inner life through painting will likely understand how a buoyant vision can rapidly sink once the brush meets the canvas. Difficulties abound in painting and the canvas itself is one of them. Far from being neutral, it obliges the painter to realise their vision, whatever amorphous perceptions it consists of, upon a starkly exposing, four-sided patch of blankness.


It is not difficult to cast Stephanie Eather’s work as the polar opposite of Maximilian Daniels’. Originating in rural experience, its feverish execution shows her capacity for total abandon in the process of making, a liberty arising after years spent observing and drawing her subjects. Only two or three years ago Eather was best known for layered charcoal drawings, often very large, representing shearers in the sweat-soaked woolsheds of New South Wales and Victoria. Since then she has remade herself as a painter, adopting colour and pausing the practice of observation to commence a close meditation on the contents of her visual memory. At Nanda / Hobbs a new group of oil paintings on linen entitled From Vernon Terrace took as their subject the artist’s impressions of a recent trip made in Queensland.

Eather’s work might not be an obvious choice to illustrate the idea of canvas as sanctum, for its energies are wild. Brushstrokes and planes push at the border as though it is a thing that asks to be broken. But at heart Eather is an introspective artist grappling with emotions as referents for the construction of painted space. At two metres wide the exhibition’s largest painting (Solid gold grains and pulling the three-metre timber pew in front of the campfire), 2023-24, affords her a field wide enough to link several memory-episodes into a fully articulated circuit. A sanctum is a place to pause and reflect; in this very satisfying, nocturnal painting Eather finds a spaciousness that invites just that.

Joe Frost
Artist Profile, March 2024




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