• Suzy Costello, workbooks

'Scene hunting' Aotearoa's forests

My exegesis will need to discuss the influence of European historical landscape painting from the 17th and 18th century, where artists and viewers strove - 'to see land and country as picturesque scenes-to-be-painted'. Embedded within this attitude is an intent to colonise the land and to see nature as separate from us.


Are my efforts to draw the forest driven by this same impulse? Is my embodiment of the forest that different to Victorian artists who 'when scene-hunting, would literally turn their backs on their landscapes and, by looking into their dark-tinted Claude pocket-glasses, like glancing in a rear-view mirror, paint the flattened view reflected in the slightly convex glass' ? (Robertshaw pp77-78).


NZ artist Reuben Paterson's The Golden Bearing, 2014 'simultaneously replicates and deconstructs the aesthetics of landscape painting' referencing Turner's The Golden Bough, 1834 (Robertshaw p77).


The Golden Bearing, by Reuben Paterson, 2014. Photo



The Golden Bough, by William Turner, 1834. Photo


Getting to grips with 'idealised landscape painting athestics'

From The Golden Bearing by Meredith Robertshaw (p77-78) in Tree Sense.

'Initially exhibited (...) in Pukekura Park and Pukeiti, two of Taranaki's most celebrated gardens (...) curated in part within European and English cultural traditions, in which gardens were composed akin to classical paintings, framed as subjects for viewing. This idealised landscape painting aesthetic - inspired by, but not true to, nature - was popularised by the depictions of ancient historical scenes and landscapes by seventeenth-century French baroque painters Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. These influenced the next generation of artists and gave rise to the use of the Claude glass. When 'scene-hunting' - the Victorian pastime of finding views to visit and paint - artists would literally turn their backs on their landscapes and, by looking into their dark-tinted Claude pocket-glasses, like glancing in a rear-view mirror, paint the flattened view reflected in the slightly convex glass.

Abstracted from the surroundings and with simplified colour and tonal ranges, this way of looking led artists and viewers to see land and country as picturesque scenes-to-be-painted. English ROmantic 'painter of light', J.M.W. Turner was among those influenced by these artists and their style.'