Can you speak ‘Sandstone’?
I usually work in themes, a collection of drawings based on the same topic. This doesn’t mean that all my drawings look the same. The challenge is to provide a ‘link’ between each individual artwork. This is a great opportunity to explore an idea and see how far it will go before it’s exhausted.
One of the themes that I’m working on this year concerns the chisel marks made by convict stonemasons in the early 1800s at Oatlands, an historic town in Tasmania’s southern Midlands.
These marks fascinate me. Each stonemason had their own ‘signature’ way of carving. The more I looked at these blocks of chiselled sandstone, the more I saw a link between the surrounding landscape and the plight of the stonemasons. It was as if they were carving stories in the stone, a record of how it was in those ‘Spartan’ days.
Today’s featured drawing is titled “Landscape Memory” – 48 x 80 cm. Prismacolor pencils on Canson pastel board. Each layer contains marks from various sandstone blocks, separated by mortar in the shape of the surrounding hills. In other words, this is a landscape composed of mark making. The convict ‘arrow’ stencil can be seen emerging from the lower left in a symbolic arrangement representing each convict’s desire to ‘escape’ to be free men. The layer second from the bottom contains symbols that collectively have a strong spiritual feeling.
Were the stonemasons trying to communicate through their chisel marks?