Changing Perspectives (First Published 2021) ISBN 978-1-63848-509-4
With his new works and book Don Hill continues to examine the contrasting landscapes of Queensland and other in only the manner that he understands by putting paint to board and canvas.
"Changing Perspectives" is a document of the artists life as he travels through time and space dithering here and there as he goes in search of new subjects and subsequent adventure.
His subject matter is not always obvious until it is viewed at a distance at which point it can and may take the shape and form of the landscape he encounters. Don Hills' Landscape and Seascape are varied, sometimes with a feeling of impending bliss or doom or both that will take place as he faces the elements in his row boat. Adventure has always been part of this artists life even from his early years in the UK when he purchased a bicycle and took off from London in Ugg boots to find Lands End. Four hundred plus miles later he arrived at Penzance with little or no money, just enough to buy a Cornish Pasty and a train ticket back to the comfort of Bayswater Road.
The same happened when he went to Europe Hitch Hiking he had to phone a friend to get back across the Channel. "The Ugg boots From the Penzance trip were disintegrating and taking on a life and odour of their own." Eventually they both parted ways, one into a road side bin and the other into a wonderful relaxing shower.
Nobody is quite sure which one did what but presume the Ugg boots met their end from Lands End.
It had been many weeks on the road and an arduous journey through Somerset over the Mendips and the horrors of Exmoor. Years later he would undertake similar journeys through the South Island of New Zealand and Nepal undertaking solo bike rides without guides and limited resources with only a picture in his head of where he was going and a camera to make a record.
One year he made it to Muktinath in Mustang and tried to stay confident after convincing the border guards to let him keep going and continue on to Lo Manthang even though it was forbidden to enter this area without written permission and payment. The weather Gods were against his progress. He made it to the crossover Temple and played with the Prayer Wheels. It was so cold he had to play with other things to make sure they were not frozen. The landscape was fiercely beautiful and clear it snowed every night with temperatures going down to minus 12.
The locals tried to keep him warm in the evenings with Raksi but this did not work although he made some great company.
Nittaya Inphurut Master of Arts
Changing Perspectives (Continued)
Earlier Don spent time in London encouraged by Arthur Evan Read and Frank De Silva to explore and study the European masters. In these early years he would go to the Art Shop at Hampstead Heath and buy paints, canvas and supplies to work with on the weekend at sixteen Belsize Crescent. Hill's use of colour and texture amplifies the expressionist outcomes of his work and conveys both a sense of calm beauty alongside a sense that upheaval and threat may not be for away. He uses an array and mixture of tools to create his works from cardboard scraps to shaped wood, knives, ply board and his hands with some minor use of brushes for the base under painting. His media is primarily oil paint applied directly to canvas and marine ply board which has a rabbit skin glue sizing. The oil paint is sometimes applied in a thick forced and tactile fashion as it comes out of the tube and left as is or at times scrapped back partially or completely to show the original under-painting base that will be enhanced using transparent and translucent colours that emulate reflections and light. His friend and mentor Frank De Silva was a master of this improvised technique. Highlights are sometimes completed with a range of opaque colours such as in the new work; "Stormy Stormy Night', Niran, the Light Ship and the Floating Palm Tree featuring the CL4 Light Ship the "Carpentaria" where he uses Cobalt to intensify the work. Niran depicts disaster in the work as this was a major Cyclonic event in 2021 in which the Light Ship is showing the way for the floating palm to find a new shore upon which to flourish. Although the objects are inanimate, they are telling a story of hope for the future. Don states that on occasion he has glimpses events that are imminent, as he completed this work more than a week before this cyclone came into being and began to cause havoc. His use of opaque Cobalt blue compliments the deep Ultramarine in this work and helps to show the topsy turvy world that makes up our seas, environs and indeed our future. Don Hill has been aware of the Light Ships since his early childhood. He believes they convey a sense of optimism with their shining light leading us in a world that is rapidly changing and of which we have no control. Hill tried to subjugate the Light Ship in this painting, but it is out of his control, bobbing up and down and around at the whim of the sea. In his paintings, Don can sometimes be seen as a participant rowing around in a boat whether it is in a river situation or the open sea. He states this is part of the experience of life that we find ourselves in. Hill states "In life we are all cast adrift" He admits that he has a/ways had an affinity with the subject, and it will continue. Other paintings in the series were undertaken in 202 J and in particular the works that depict Dunk and the Family Islands of North Queensland completed from memory and sketches when he arrived back in Brisbane in January and February.
The piece "In my Row-Boat I Dreamed of Island Shores " he seeks to explain the idealism of freedom and sailing unhindered in a beautiful place without the cares and worries of the modem world. The rainforest island overhangs and drips into the Turquoise shore of Thorpe Island as the boats sit idly in the fullness of the tide with a row-boat, moving around randomly on the smooth glassy sea. This smooth glassy sea also appears in the work "Still Flows the Clump Point Evening" where everything is at peace. Another painted work "Last Night's Dive on the Tangalooma Wrecks I swam to the Tune of the Tide" and its mood swings back to Pete's boat the "Murphy Star" was an adventure into a near disaster scenario which almost According to Hill, Pete parked the Murphy Star south of the Tangalooma Wrecks as the tide was racing in and Southward from the North. This was a recipe for disaster, as the divers in full gear had to swim against the strengthening tide to reach the wrecks. This was and never should have been on the agenda, as it was dangerous especially on such a dark evening. Once there everyone was exhausted, and their glow sticks as well as the torches were more than half spent. They could have become trophies for the local sharks but this was not to be, and they survived. It was an arduous journey that nobody on this dive would ever forget. They made it back to the Murphy at about eight in the evening against the outflowing tide. Hill approaches his subject with an energetic spontaneity and an idea to complete the piece at hand in one sitting. This rarely happens and may not support his expected outcome. He states that he does not concentrate his thought on composition, as this will come naturally, believing that when you reach the end of creative thought, a new spark usually ignites and lights the way so one can continue to the next turning in the road "River Run out Tide" is an example of movement in his works with the boats straining against the Noosa River's outgoing tide. Once again, a row-boat or two can be seen maneuvering in the shallows of the North Shore. The oil paint in this piece is very thick and tactile and the work has been created by hand and shaped ply board use. Don feels it is necessary to bring the viewer close to the works so they can interact, interpret and enjoy it's tactile finish. This closeness shows a more non-objective character and beauty. Many of the new works have a three-dimensional quality, for example: "Dusk and Reflections of the Sand Island" depict a small flotilla of craft that appear to be circling each other whilst the water has a small but determined chop from the wind. Once again the painted texture is key in this work. The colours are fresh and show some of the scraped back techniques that Hill has used to convince the viewer that activity is happening. This was evident especially in his early works and particularly in his exhibition in 2001 "Colours of the Bay"
The painting "Ko" Chang Seascape, East Facing West" is the most recent of the works. It has a distinct blend of texture and is on a board that had been worked a multitude of times, so the texture of the work stands thick in an Encaustic, impasto innocence. The colours are deliberate in that the sails of the junk look almost Jade like in colour and the sea like the scales of a Dragon in a rich Ultramarine and Cobalt. This painting was made from the memories d sketches that Hill made on the dive boats he visited from Lonely Beach diving in search of the local Whale Sharks.
Don Hill was born in Ipswich Queensland (and currently resides in the Brisbane area, Chiang Mai and Far North Queensland when travel is Unrestricted and also maintains a connection with the South Island of New Zealand, where he undertakes photographic study and subjective environmental research creating a photographic record of the available micro landscape content that is in danger of disappearing.
Selective Editing: Dr John Dahlsen March 2021