Ruth Waller

Ruth Waller (b. 1955)

Artist statement

Lately I have focussed on painting as a specifically material practice, and as a vehicle for reflecting the pleasures I find in experiences of natural world in the everyday: in plants and rocks in the garden and in the local Australian bushland.

In painting colour becomes matter and is brought into exchange with the specific properties of the supporting material surface. I enjoy the play of these substances’ compliance and resistance, the pleasures entailed in generating tensions between the assertion of materiality and the play of illusion, between optics and touch, eye and body.

I enjoy the fact that painting is seen as somewhat marginal or anachronistic these days- there is a freedom in that.

In my paintings I work in an open-ended improvised way to explore how aspects of the botanical and the geological can be hybridised as an exchange between colour, pattern, matter, structure, gesture and material surface.

Traditionally we have learnt to think of geology and biology as separate realms, but current research has it that they are inextricably linked in a co-evolutionary deep past. As Robert Hazen recently put it, “life arose from minerals; then minerals arose from life”. Further, Hazen suggests “saving ourselves will require a deeper understanding of the strange, twisty relationship between rocks and life.”

While in Suomenlinna I will be compiling samples of the particular seasonal colours and material surfaces of the rocks and life of this especially beautiful place: on my camera and in drawings and small painted studies on various supports- different papers, canvas, linen and jute. I envisage these being the basis of larger paintings when I return home.

About the artist

Ruth Waller is an Associate Professor, Head of Painting at the Australian National University School of Art, Canberra. Her work has been collected by the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery of Queensland, Artbank, and several regional Australian galleries and University collections. Waller is represented by Watters Gallery, Sydney and Nancy Sever Gallery, Canberra.