Two new commissions

Tragic Drowning revisited 2017 edited-1.jpg

This piece called 'Tragic Drowning revisited' was created for my good friend Dr Matt Finch who admired a similar print which is hanging in my guest room. It is based on my memories of swimming in Lake Mulwala, where I grew up. Lake Mulwala is a reservoir constructed on Murray River on Northern Victoria, when it was dammed by a weir constructed in 1939.  The water of the lake and river is quite silty, so it is rare to see through it clearly. I have always hated the sense of strange things lurking unseen below the visible water line. When swimming in Lake Mulwala one would encounter water weeds, fishing lines, slime, leeches and mysterious unknown objects. There was also the possibility - in my child’s mind - of being swept into the weir or of being caught up in the propellors of the multiple speed boats that criss crossed the lake in the summer. I rarely went boating and never skied but the stories in our local paper, the Yarrawonga Chronicle, relayed by my parents as morality tales made me very fearful. The northern side of the lake was studded with dead Red Gum trees standing as ghostly monuments to the dangers lurking below. At dusk they are still an intimidating sight. 

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Another piece commissioned by Matt was for his girlfriend Marta Cabral who is a talented artist and educator, specialising in glass and early childhood arts eduction. Marta had recently posted a story on social media about her amazing Portugese ancestry, a family of artists. An exhibition of the paintings and drawings of two generations beginning with the patriarch, Alfredo Roque Gameiro was shown in Lisbon I was fascinated by the breadth of talent in this family and the fact that artmaking was more or less the family business extending into marriage partners for two generations and more. As Marta is clearly following in the footsteps of her forebears, I based the cyanotype on copies of her grandmother’s, Mamia Roque Gameiro, drawings and paintings. 

“Encouraged by her father Alfredo, for whom there were already enough watercolour painters in the family, Mamia Roque Gamero (1910 - 1996) studied oil painting with Mily Possoz. Mamia’s forst solo exhibition took place in 1923. In addition to painting, Mamia illustrated numerous children;s books and magazine. She also distinguished herself as a miniaturist, namely in historic representation. When in 1926 she married painter Jaime Martins Barata, Mamia became Alfredo and Assuncao Roque Gameiro’s neighbour in Campolide, in the building to which the family had recently moved. “

The title comes from a family motto 'Honra teus avos’ which means 'Honor your ancestors’. I love that they were, and continue to be, such a close family. This work is intended to be an honouring of the ancestors of my new friend Marta, in particular her grandmother, for whom being an artist was seen as natural and was encouraged by her family, at a time very different from our own when women artists struggled for validation of their ambitions, or were overlooked by the art establishment.

© Wendy Catling