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Meg Buchanan, Halfway HillsTitle
Halfway Hills

In storage

Place of origin
Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Acrylic on canvas

2 x 91.5 x 91.5 cm

Winner Calleen Award 2005

Accession number

Excerpt from The Calleen Collection by Peter Haynes (2019)

Meg Buchanan was born in 1949 and initially trained in painting at the Newcastle School of Art (1968- 1971) before studying etching in Paris and New York. She was awarded an MA (Visual Arts) from Monash University in Melbourne in 1998. Buchanan has lectured in tertiary institutions in Australia and overseas since 1974. Her most senior appointments were as Head of Foundation Studies at the ANU School of Art (1992-1998) and Head of Printmaking at the National Art School in Sydney (1999 — 2001). As well as teaching she was the co-founder and Director of the Studio One print workshop in Canberra. Buchanan has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes including a Hill End residency (2006). She has been exhibiting regularly since 1978 and in 2007 was the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Canberra Museum and Gallery. Her most recent group exhibition, Three Ways, was shown at the Cowra Regional Art Gallery in 2017. Her work is represented in major public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the Canberra Museum and Gallery and the New York University. She lives and works outside Canberra.

Halfway Hills illustrates Buchanan’s use of the landscape as a rich vein for conceptual, thematic and aesthetic investigation. From 1998 to 2001 the artist travelled regularly between Canberra and Sydney. These trips infused the experience of the landscape as something moved through and past as well as being something solid and (to a certain extent) solid. Her experience of landscape was simultaneously one of space and place. In Halfway Hills a series of black verticals (poles) moves laterally across the front of the picture plane. They are set apart from one another in a random yet rhythmically harmonious line. The viewer moves both past them and through them. They are both barrier and entry. The hills of the background hold an ominous and brooding presence. Their domed forms are composed of layered horizontals of blues and greys that activate the surface in ways not dissimilar to the marks dancing lightly across the frontal black poles. The dark presence of the hills is partnered by the background sky that emerges from behind them and pushes upwards and across the pictorial space, its scumbled appearance adding a dynamic sense of movement that echoes the artist’s drive through the landscape. This is a vital and dramatic work with strong verticals and circular forms providing structure to the painterly activity that is integral to its resolution. The combination of stasis and kinesis here is conceived and contrived with a masterly mind, eye and hand.