An Australian Gothic
For some time, I have been interested in film, literature and art which oscillate around the notion of the Australian Gothic. I feel my paintings always display aspects of this and I am aware it is something I try and tap into. My paintings endeavour to combine elements of Romanticism and the Gothic mode to conjure up an unsettling beauty and intrigue. Recently I have been drawn to the stories and environments of people in historical photographs which feature early Australians, pioneers and immigrants. These photographic records, I find, have an aesthetic that evokes imagination and reinterpretation via painterly exploration.
From its inception the Gothic has dealt with fears and themes which are endemic in the colonial experience: isolation, entrapment, fear of pursuit and fear of the unknown. And for each, the possibility of transformation, of surviving the dislocation, acts as a driving hope.
– Gerry Turcotte, ‘Australian Gothic’, 1998
This painting features father and daughter, Kenneth and Helen McKenzie and their prized horse. The McKenzies, originally from Scotland, lived and farmed the property at Bundanon for four generations. Tragedy struck on the eve of the Nowra show when Kenneth and Helen drowned while washing their horse in the river. The Jacaranda tree by the Bundanon homestead was planted in their memory.