In a career spanning over forty years, Raymond Arnold has continuously explored how we see and represent landscape. Touching upon mining, climate change, memory and mortality, Prospect & Refuge considers the Tasmanian landscape through a series of etchings and prints.
Born in Melbourne, Arnold first came to Queenstown, Tasmania in 1967. When describing his decision to permanently move there in 1983, Arnold says, “I found a space where I felt free and unencumbered and beautifully driven to make work.” Over time Arnold began teaching a course that bought students to Queenstown to consider the unique landscape of the area. It’s these personal resonances, alongside the writings of English geographer Jay Appleton, which largely inform Arnold’s upcoming exhibition.
Arnold’s “structure” comes in the form of unified fragments. While Prospect & Refuge presents a variety of etchings and prints, at the centre of the exhibition sits the panoramic piece Elsewhere World. This work includes over 90 etchings of Queenstown’s Mt Lyell, which have been arranged into a five-metre long outlook. By unifying a series of fragmented etchings, Arnold explains that he is “trying to present an almost self-contained world of infinite and then finite elements.”
Pivotal to Prospect & Refuge is Arnold’s chosen artistic medium, etching. “I love etching because it’s hundreds of years old and it’s unchanged in its basics of copper plate, ink, paper and then the press,” says Arnold. The material of copper is a purposeful link to Queenstown, which is historically known as a world centre of copper mining. Like the process of mining, Prospect & Refuge seeks to capture the transformation of resources into a constructed world.
Alongside these personal and material aspects, Arnold’s work is clearly concerned with climate change and the effects of industrialism. “Queenstown has been completely transformed by mining and capitalism, particularly within the early 20th century,” says Arnold, “the effects of which we still live with today.”
Prospect & Refuge is part of the Climarte 2017 Art + Climate = Change Festival.