Julie Keating - Vapourscape

Wednesday 25 October - Saturday 11 November 2023

Click here for artwork by Julie Keating

Painted in the enigmatic landscapes of Nalangil in the Western District of Victoria, Vapourscape is an exploration of abstraction and figuration, clarity and obscurity. 

Nalangil is a theatre of elemental forces and a sanctuary for strange fogs, eerie mists and fantastical skies. Here, the horizon is visible in all directions, offering a ceaseless spectacle of winds and wild weather, of storm clouds, dramatic light shifts; of dawn and sunset skies that almost defy understanding in their beauty. 

I have found myself entranced by what I call vapourscapes - the mists, fogs and clouds that I see on my property that overlooks The Basins, two hyper-saline craters. The salty water colour fluctuates greatly, sometimes greyish-blue, sometimes the exquisite green colours of the water in a Venetian canal, ever-changing with the light and the weather.

Deep inside the crater, in this foggy sanctuary, silence reigns, punctuated only by the calls of birds across the water and the thud of kangaroos fleeing through the bush. I am a stranger in this strange land. An  ancient landscape shrouded in a mist so thick that it's impossible to see across to the other side of the crater, the water so still and the reflections so perfect that it's impossible to distinguish where rusted wire and grasses meet their mirror-image. 

Amidst this ethereal landscape, remnants of earlier settlers emerge like ghosts of a forgotten era. Rusted wires contort into strange and curious shapes, where century-old rusted wagon wheels lie beneath the water in silent testimony to the passage of time; longer than my life will be and infinitesimally short in the craters. A fence line extends into the water, inviting contemplation of its journey into the depths.

Overlooking the crater, at times when the wind drops completely, I encounter wild skyscapes that blur the boundaries of earth and sky. Vaporous clouds drift with a poetic grace, and the still water reflects a mirror image of a world turned upside down, creating a rushing sense of imbalance and the feeling that one could fall down into the sky. This is a place where surreal and magical elements intermingle, and a sense of unease underlies the wonder.