Thalia Robertson’s current body of work elaborates on earlier collections that explored the themes of ephemerality and fragility in regards to environmental issues through the medium of painting.
Her intention in this series of paintings is to gain a sensorial appreciation for the subject of glaciers and glacial environments through first hand experience.
New Zealand’s South Island, West Coast glaciers were visually recorded photographically then translated into works on paper. Glacial terrains and regions were explored on foot. Topography and Absence attempts to convey sensory impressions of the landscape within the broader context of ephemerality.
The melting of glaciers over the past century has opened out the landscape and created gorge areas once filled with ice. Many of the works focus on this negative space, which made a definite physical impression whilst moving through the landscape on route to the glacier. The glacial rock rubble called ground moraine, heaped up along the path into the gorge and some impressive vertical geological aspects are recorded through painting.
These glaciers, sublimely spectacular and in retreat, will inevitably disappear. Environment as an extension of self and identity is considered. Will the disappearance of glaciers as a direct result of human activity be felt and effect human identity ontologically or will they simply dissolve and be relegated as a distant memory? Perhaps as discussed by Manuel De Landa in his paper The Geology of Morals, nature has its own agency outside of human constructs with consideration of vast time frames and monumental geographical transitions. However we are not let of the hook. A duty of care to habitat or lack of it is of concern.
The sensory significance of walking the terrain in visual art practice can be traced to Richard Longs environmental works or Robert Morris’s shimmering mirrors splitting the picture plane are evoked. The fragile tones and painterly drawings of Luc Tuymans are also brought to mind.