Is it possible to claim that painting is an extreme sport? Artist and trustee of the Yvonne Rust West Coast Arts Trust, Evelyn Hewlett answers ‘yes’ maintaining that for almost five decades, Catherine Brough’s plein-air paintings out in the field and on the front-line in Canterbury and the West Coast are an affirmation that this is true.
‘When you look at her work you can feel the experience of the weather and being in the painting. She has had an interesting career as a landscape painter during a period of conceptual art. British sculptor and conceptual artist Richard Long goes for long walks in the landscape of Scotland and he puts rocks in an art gallery and Catherine is a bit like that as well, going from coast to coast’ .
Brough’s exhibition Painting – An Extreme Sport opens at the Left Bank Art Gallery in Greymouth in October and at PGgallery192 in November and visitors will be able to share something of the artist’s experience, at work in the land. Hewlett describes the necessary details for Brough to undertake the task. ‘To organise all your materials; paint and brushes, suitable clothing, food, tramping boots, wet/warm weather gear and maps, and get yourself out there to paint is a difficult thing to do. Most of the audience for Painting – An Extreme Sport will be Canterbury and West Coast people. Like most of us, sitting in our air conditioned cars, the landscape is quite insular from us. You are driving and on a mission, and if you do stop it is cold and climatically challenged.’
Undeniably, there are performance elements fundamental to Brough’s painting that verify her association not only with conceptual art, but also with West Coast/Northland painter and potter, Yvonne Rust (1922-2002) whose Trust has supported Brough’s exhibitions at the Left Bank Art Gallery and PgGallery192. Hewlett notes that Rust would have easily understood the physical nature of Catherine’s art practice. ‘Her favourite artist was Joseph Turner (1775-1851). She had this memory of him tying himself to a ship, and that is kind of what Catherine is doing, putting herself out there for all of us to heighten our consciousness and experience of nature - its varying temperament and personality’.
Catherine Brough, Painting – An Extreme Sport
The Left Bank Art Gallery, 1 Tainui Street, Greymouth
13 October – 6 November
PgGallery192, 192 Bealey Avenue,
16 November – 3 December
- Catherine Brough, Torlesse Range and Main Road, 2003, oil on canvas