Salt Contemporary Art will host Diamonds in my Eyes, a solo exhibition of paintings and drawings by Nicola Moss whose contemporary works are inspired by the beauty and biodiversity of the Australian bush.
By observing patterns, connections and cycles within the ecology of landscapes, Moss’s latest paintings depict what she regards as treasure, “magical landscapes that capture my imagination”– heathlands blooming with wildflowers, tranquil ponds surrounded by flourishing undergrowth, or dramatic sunset-skies glimpsed through canopies of foliage.
Through her paintings, Moss examines the importance of the natural environment and notions about what we value. She sees a connection between the valuable carbon sinks of our forests and the precious diamonds of the jewellery trade. Just as diamonds are prized for their beauty and worth, Moss values the natural world for its splendour and significance.
“The works are about valuing plants and how they form a foundation of life, providing all the essential things we need like food, oxygen, shelter and clothing,” explains Moss. “I’ve been thinking about what we value and the way things generate importance or worth. By showing what I think is special about these plants, maybe others will appreciate them too.”
The exhibition features 12 large paintings and also a panel of drawings in ink, charcoal and acrylics which was made plein air. As a member of several bushcare groups, Moss develops her work from site visits to wetlands, conservation areas, and islands in Moreton Bay.
Of continued interest to Moss are the colours and seasonal variations of flowers and seeds, and the unique appearance of each species to attract the animals and insects necessary for its regeneration. She renders each plant in intricate detail, testament to her observational skills which she honed during her artist residency at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
As well as portraying botanical elements, Moss aims to capture the atmosphere, feeling and experience of each special location. “Some places I visit are really magical so I try to portray that in my work,” she says. “When I am walking through the bush it changes with every couple of steps – things are being revealed and concealed. I am trying to capture the feeling and the layering of species, and the connection between them.”
Although Moss’s works have a strong botanical basis, they are a contemporary interpretation of the landscape. Using acrylics and pigmented ink, her paintings of the bush are intricately detailed and carefully overlaid with patterns and motifs. She employs silhouettes extensively, not only to define the distinguishing features of plants, but to create lush layering effects. The patterns flatten the perspective but she also achieves tonal depth to her paintings with selective glazing and layering techniques.
Moss is a finalist in the current 2011 City of Albany Art Prize, and has been a finalist in numerous other awards including the 2009 Caldera Art Awards, Tattersall’s Club Landscape Art Prize, Stockland Art Prize and LAUNCH Clayton Utz Travelling Scholarship.
Diamonds in my Eyes runs from 16 April to 6 May, with the official opening on Easter Saturday 23 April, 2.30pm at Salt Contemporary Art, 33-35 Hesse St, Queenscliff. www.salt-art.com.au