I have been influenced by West Australian academic George Seddon’s idea of ‘sense of place’. If every place was the same, we wouldn’t have any connection to it, but when a place is unlike other places, like Western Australia which has a unique biodiversity, our connection to our environment becomes fore-grounded. ‘Belonging’ is not only a problematic question for the Aboriginal people who have been uprooted and abused, but also for non-indigenous Australians with migrant backgrounds. Our suburban environment affects our sense of belonging and gardens that come from outdated nostalgia for the ‘motherland’ distract us from where we really are.
Suburbia and the Australian bush have often been depicted in art in a melancholic way, which is central to this problematic sense of belonging. Although I acknowledge this feeling in my dark-paletted paintings, I have explored the positive side to suburbia by navigating through the darkness and playing within it. The light in my paintings is like an illumination, not literally of the object, but of what is sometimes nearly lost or forgotten.
The title of the exhibition came to me while I was playing a game of hide and seek in a suburban house. It relates to my desire to play more with paint, expand my repertoire of mark-making skills, and to research (seek) other painters’ responses to the subject of place and belonging.