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Judith White, Reflections and RefractionsTitle
Reflections and Refractions

In storage

Place of origin
New South Wales, Australia


Mixed media

Winner Calleen Award 1983

Accession number

Excerpt from The Calleen Collection by Peter Haynes (2019)

Born in Sydney in 1951, Judith White trained at the National Art School before studying at the University of Sydney where she received a BA majoring in Fine Arts in 1988. White is also a member of the Australian Watercolour Institute. She has an extensive exhibiting history covering more than 30 years and as well as the Calleen Prize she has won many prizes including the Mosman Art Prize, the Maitland Art Prize and the Fleurieu Peninsula McLaren Vale Prize.

White’s thematic concerns lie chiefly with the depiction of the Australian landscape. The title of the Calleen work – Reflections and Refractions – points to a particular interest in the depiction of light and its effect on the components of the bush landscape. Just as the landscape is layered so too is White’s means of technically realising her motif. In Reflections and Refractions the textured surfaces of trees, rocks and other elements are assiduously worked on to produce painterly equivalents of her natural sources. Through layering and the combination of various media (here, acrylic and pastel) White produces a visually fertile surface within a lyrical spatial configuration. There is a classical simplicity to her composition. The central stream meanders in a serpentine path from the back to the front of the picture plane. It is bordered by trees, grasses and rocks whose placement highlights the centrality of the stream. The verticality of these elements contrasts sharply with the stream where the artist has used mostly horizontal brushstrokes in its depiction. The horizontality is subtly underscored by the occasional and random placement of areas of yellow into the otherwise predominately blue/grey of the water. This device also moves the viewer through the painting. The placement of the foliage as border keeps the area around the stream as an open space, a space where viewers can vicariously begin their journey through the picture. The trees on either side of the frontal picture plane frame the beginning of each viewer’s visual dialogue with the picture and invite us in for further investigation. White’s landscape remains soft and welcoming without denying the often roughly textured surfaces and scraggly filigrees of the Australian bush flora. The lightness of her palette aligned with her ability to capture the patterns and forms of nature give this work a special attraction.