Raymond Arnold: Prospect & Refuge


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.

“I’ve called the show Prospect & Refuge because it’s through that journey of coming here as an individual in the 1980s and then later with students,” says Arnold. “I’m now trying to bring some structure to all these random and complicated events.”

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.”

1. Elsewhere World, 2016, multi-plate etching, edition 3, 11th state, 80 x 400 cm
Raymond Arnold, Elsewhere World, 2016, multi-plate etching, edition 3, 11th state, 80 x 400 cm

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.

Prospect & Refuge
Raymond Arnold
Australian Galleries – Melbourne Stock Rooms
20 April – 7 May

Preview Words by Tiarney Miekus