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Out of the Blue

The Exhibition RAPT IN BLUE is now open. From the street you can see the whole painting


OUT OF THE BLUE - 6 panel hexaptych Robyn Bauer 2021

I have had the idea of doing a large blue and white multi-panel piece for several years now. I wanted to combine the diverse elements I had been working on; the local Fig trees, the views of Brisbane, the still life arrangements, and native and introduced species of flora and fauna. The painting contains many elements that make it Australian and many more that make it specifically about Brisbane.

I have always pondered how our flora and fauna appeared to the early visiting naturalists, the English and the French, and what a shock it must have been for them for all these strange creatures to seemingly materialize “out of the blue”. I also explored this theme in my 2012 series “Is there any news of La Perouse”? I have focused on the magnificent Fig trees that surround Paddington and included other influences and elements such as Escher’s fish, Hokusai’s wave and Hiroshige’s cat.

Panel 1 begins with a lyrebird, an owl and an extinct thylacine on the banks of an imagined pristine creek replete with waterlilies. The water flows into Panel 2 and culminates in a whirlpool and in Hokusai’s wave against a window view of the Glasshouse Mountains. A dingo alerts us to his presence.

Panel 3 leads into a still life arrangement, a cornucopia of abundance based around a porcelain white rabbit, a Chinese ceramic cockerel and a real rabbit. An echidna is curled up camouflaged amongst with other rounded objects of an imported exotic nature.

Panel 4 shows a view of Brisbane’s Paddington with some native and exotic bird species in a circle of life. There is a cherub from European art up there with them and a cat and kitten on the alert.

Panel 5 presents a massive gnarled Fig tree with many scars and lost appendages. It shields an ibis and a ring-tailed possum.

Panel 6 completes the story with a dynamic dancing tree growing against the setting of the Paddington Water tower. The birdcage symbolises many things. My namesake bird, the Bowerbird is in his bower and on the right some exotic bulbs from far flung countries take their place in the saturated environment.

The painting as a whole incorporates many of my themes from over the years; my love of Fig trees, the Brisbane urban landscape, the idea of animals in the wild and reduced to decorative objects, blue and white as an exercise in tonality and a celebration of the porcelain objects I collect, and finally birds as symbols of freedom and restraint.

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