philip ward-dickson

"To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour."
William Blake

The series of paintings exhibited in Wild Flower State are a continuance of the fascination artists hold for the unique beauty of Australian wild flowers. Pre-dating all is an ancient knowledge of the spirituality and healing properties of bush flora held by indigenous people for millennia.

I sometimes feel I am walking in a tradition, along an historic timeline, as I add a tiny painted fragment to this fabric of fascination.

My aspiration was to present a new image of wild flowers as emblematic, flag-like interpretations based upon representational silhouettes layered in pulsations of colour. No longer the more familiar images as depicted in botanical specimens, nor the traditional floral studies in vases. Colours were applied in semi-transparent layers to split revealing evidence of the layer beneath. Several successive layers were required before a painting achieved the final balance and sense of history that I searched for in each work. Only then did the colours resonate as being of this place and of the light specific to Western Australia.

As I paint in my studio I often ponder on what the thoughts of others may have been as they too became enamoured with the unique flora of this country. Georgiana Molloy in the early 1830s in the new settlement of Augusta overcame severe home sickness as she immersed herself in the collection and preparation of specimens of the local flora she admired. These she would send to Captain James Mangles and other amateur botanists in England. Lady Margaret Forrest in the late 19th century would often travel long distances to locate wild flowers to study for her floral paintings, claiming she would rather paint the flowers of Western Australia in preference to those imported varieties grown nostalgically in colonial gardens. Throughout the 20th century WA artists continued to explore the theme of wild flowers as a means to express a sense of unique local identity.

Wild Flower State is a collection of paintings, quiet observations that celebrate not only the beauty of what is but also reflects on what has been lost as ruthless clearing and development continues for a future that may only possess artists’ depictions of the wild flowers we once had in such profusion.

"There is nothing you can see that is not a flower; there is nothing you can think that is not the moon."
Matsuo Basho

Philip Ward-Dickson