Lorraine BIGGS, Dreaming of Utopia 2001, pastel on paper
Tasmanian based artist Lorraine Biggs was born in Perth, Western Australia and now lives and works in Falmouth, Tasmania. The Devonport City Council Permanent Collection holds six of Biggs’ works, including an oil painting and pastel drawings, as part of our collection of contemporary Tasmanian artists.
Like many artists working in Tasmania, Biggs is drawn to the natural environment, which is the focus of her body of work. However, it is Biggs’ valuing of times of quietness and isolation in this environment, which likely enables her unique and immersive representations. In relation to a recent collaborative project, Biggs’ has referred to the idea of slowing down to nature’s time, rejecting our tendency to absorb a picturesque landscape as one sweeping entity, and instead being open to noticing and experiencing the individual elements that merge into the landscape. This sentiment is reflected in her pastel drawings and paintings, which take the forms of both sweeping scenes of land, sea and sky, and close-up depictions of the quiet details of these environments.
Many of Biggs’ works, drawn both from her current surrounds and from memory, have a whimsical quality, such as the swirling patterns of the green, yellow and red sweeping hills of the Landscape of Memories series. This spiral is to be found again surrounding a perfect circular pond in Dreaming of Utopia, an almost surreal, still and barren landscape. The spiral connotes growth and natural cycles, while giving the landscape a sense of movement and energy that reminds us that though represented in a static form, nature is constantly in a state of flux.
The character Biggs’ affords the environment further reaches to her works that capture the details of nature that often go unnoticed to the eye, and are not conventionally appreciated for their beauty. However, Biggs recognises that these elements, such as moss and rotting tree branches, form an intricate tapestry of natural detritus, essential to the ecosystems in which they are found. Much like the spirit captured in her landscapes, Biggs’ affords these prongs and branches an almost anthropomorphic quality, again indicative of the value of extended time spent in nature.
This appreciation for seclusion in the environment is directly referenced in her Aspects of Isolation series. While the series stemmed from a variety of landscapes Biggs had visited, Coast Road was drawn from an area near Falmouth on the east coast of Tasmania, where the salty sea air prunes the trees. Alongside the coastal scene, with its hint of a road, dwarfed by the hillside, sits a panel of abstraction. This abstract panel plays with the idea of perspective, and micro and macro elements of the environment, as we could as likely be looking at minute details of the road as the landscape in its entirety from above. Biggs has stated that this series refers to both physical and emotional isolation, emphasising that for herself personally, solitude in nature allows clarity and reflection, the results of which are evident in her unique and alluring representations of the natural environment.
-Erin Wilson, Curator of Collections