Walking the Ballarat Lanes

A selection of images from the exhibition. All paintings are oil on linen on wood 9 x 12 cm

Walkers are ‘practitioners of the city’, for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

This exhibition comprises paintings made while walking in the lanes of Ballarat over a period of one year. Three lanes form the focus of the work: Syncline, Anticline and Quarry. The lanes are named for the activities that went on in Ballarat when they were built, and reflect the local mining and quarrying heritage (the words syncline and anticline refer to folds in rock strata).

The night carts used grumble fragrantly up and down them, and still the picket fences of the front garden give way to a ramshackle assortment of Colorbond, rusting tin, weathered wood and peeling paint of back yards, sheds, leaning car ports, smoking barbecues and at least a thousand barking dogs. Life goes on in the lanes. There is an intimacy about walking the lanes that is wholly absent when driving the streets. The lanes are a way of getting under the skin of the city.

So the paintings in this exhibition are deliberately small scale. The early ones began as sketches for larger paintings but I soon discovered that the scale suited the subject. I changed my working practice and the result is this series of small, intimate paintings The paintings are painted “alla prima”, that is, in one session with no later glazing or overworking. I wanted a sense of immediacy, the better to share the experience of walking the lanes through the seasons.

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