Sue Lovegrove on the humbling immensity of nature

Few things compare to the humbling immensity of the natural environment. It’s a sensation that Sue Lovegrove knows well, spending many hours walking and climbing in remote and rugged landscapes, especially around her home in South West Tasmania. Her latest exhibition, Water Sky, draws upon an intimate knowledge of the landscape, featuring 12 new paintings that explore “the abstract and indeterminate qualities of the elemental forces of the landscape, in particular water and air”. She is fascinated by the fleeting nature of the two elements. As she explains, “Both water and air are in a constant state of flux and transience that I find compelling.”

Influenced by minimalism, abstraction and figuration, Lovegrove channels her inner responses to the Tasmanian landscape by portraying temporal moments. “These paintings are about a state of mind—a way of being in and within a landscape, of sitting still for long enough to perceive a place resonate within one’s own body.”

Sue Lovegrove, No 598, 2023, mixed media on board, 60x135cm. Courtesy of Gallerysmith, Photograph Peter Whyte.

Lovegrove observes what is around her, tapping into something intangible. “Sometimes I think of my paintings as a sound score to the pulse of the landscape,” she laughs. Her works are a call to observe and absorb, to switch off ever-present devices and to listen to what is around us.

Lovegrove applies translucent layers of acrylic and ink on various surfaces such as board, aluminium and paper. With gentle, repetitive strokes, delicate lines are etched on the surface to complete each painting. These are her signature marks. As she reflects, “The accumulation of the lines creates a sequential field of marks reminiscent of the minute ripples of light and shadow on the surface of water that is both minuscule and expansive at the same time.” The lines have a meditative quality and form shapes like reflections on water. I am transfixed.

Water Sky
Sue Lovegrove
7 March—13 April

This article was originally published in the March/April 2024 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Anita King