Rain has a particular place in the Australian consciousness. It seems there is either too much of it, as you will know if you have lived in Brisbane during the last decade, or too little, as Melburnians could have told you in 2013 as they pulled out the dead azaleas and planted cactus. I have lived in many parts of Australia, from Darwin down the east coast of the mainland to Tasmania, sometimes in rural areas. For sixteen years we were on tank water. I have lived through droughts and floods.
Therefore I should probably not be surprised to realise that so many of my paintings have been about rain. Every exhibition has contained at least one, although it is only now, as I finish yet another, that I see the pattern emerge.
L to R: Sunday Rain, 2011; Cloud cover, 2013; Score for frogs and rain, 2015
As one of life’s essentials, rain has a strong presence in mythology. Most cultures have had their rain gods. Christianity too has its floods and droughts according to how people have been behaving.
Rain appears in literature as an indicator (and sometimes determinant) of mood. “Il pleure dans mon coeur comme il pleut sur las ville” (Paul Verlaine); “the panic of anticipation… the urgent drubbing on the dust” (Rain on Dry Ground, Christopher Fry). Closer to home, strong responses are evoked by the five descriptions of rain that comprise Sarah Day’s beautiful “Observations about rain”in her collection Grass Notes. The coming of rain after drought often signifies emotional release.
This latest is a painting about the start of a heavy rainfall; the looming presence, the awareness that you are going to be overtaken by it, the drops spattering on the ground as it advances, the worms rising to the surface. I do not know whether it portends abundance, or excess. Either way, I really enjoyed painting it.
(As yet untitled. Sorry about the yellowish tint – it’s just a studio shot).