The Artist & Her Landscape

Words by
Georgina Reid
| March 4, 2014

Artist Anna Mackrell grew up on a farm in Strathbogie, Victoria, immersed in a rural landscape of rolling hills, rambling country gardens and big skies. Her return to living on the family farm in late 2013 after many years living away has inspired Anna’s latest series of floral still-lives, to be exhibited at The Studio in Sydney this month.

Anna’s family has lived in Strathbogie for six generations. The landscape of her childhood and her rich family heritage of farm life are strong influences on her work, and this linking of family and landscape is clearly illustrated in the theatre of her still-life paintings. Many of the flowers in the works are picked from both her mother’s garden, and the garden planted seventy years ago by her grandmother, Hilda, surrounding the farmhouse. This is where the beauty lies: in the merging of history, family, and landscape.

My dad passed away and a few years ago and it was hard to go back to Strathbogie. Now I’m living there again, when I walk around the farm and I see the pine trees that he planted I have a strong sense of his presence. The landscape of Strathbogie is echoed in my still life paintings.

The works by Anna are a story of a landscape, not just pretty pictures. She says,

In my paintings the vase of flowers is a metaphor for a tree; the patterned material it sits on, a metaphor of a paddock or a field, and the edge of the table, a horizon.

Photographer: Francoise Baudet

Her new series of still-life floral compositions are inspired by her return to the farm, back in her childhood landscape.

‘Being back in Strathbogie is absolutely inspiring. I feel like I’ve settled down in a nest. I have returned to living in the large old weatherboard farm house that we all grew up in, and I have heaps of space and time to think, and to make art. My 5 year old nephew pops over a bit and tells me that he loves my paintings. He is my number one fan!’

There is a richness in Anna’s floral still-lives, possibly a reflection of the matter-a-fact beauty found in rural life. This kind of beauty is based on nature, not on the man-made. It’s found in the imperfect, in objects with a story, in the everyday rhythms of life. She says,

I find beauty in the natural world. Dreamy evening light, long shadows of the pine trees that my dad planted, the sounds of the birds and frogs are all things I love.  Even when I’m painting in the studio I’m also looking outside at the different cloud formations, changing weather and little birds playing in the bird bath.

ANNA MACKRELL at Megan Morton’s The Studio
8th to 30th of March
85 Dunning Avenue
Rosebery, Sydney

Opening Night is This Friday the 7th of March (The Planthunter gang will be there – come along and say hi!)

PS. Anna’s paintings will be available to buy online at www.theshool.com.au from Saturday the 8th of March. Get in quick- Beauty like this don’t hang around for long!

Photographer: Francoise Baudet

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