mediterranean:

An exhibition of Paintings by Suzanne Chick

November 25 to December 10, 2000

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Suzanne Chick is the relinquished daughter of famous Kiama-born author and essayist Charmian Clift. In 1994 Suzanne wrote Searching For Charmian which detailed her search for her mother. "Mediterranean" grew out of a year she spent with her husband Doug in Europe in 1994-1995, especially time in Greece trying to find the faint traces left by Charmian Clift and George Johnston during the decade they spent there from 1954 to 1964.  
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"Pavane for Olive Pickers" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

Pavane for Olive Pickers
acrylic on canvas - 90 x 120cm - framed

 
Pavane for Olive Pickers

In Southern Itally in our friends' village olives were harvested by laying down brightly coloured nets. Every ten days or so during the harvest all hands would pick up the nets and gently shake the fallen olives into containers. These would be emptied into bags and eventually carted off to the village press for crushing.

The figures moving slowly through the olive groves reminded me of the 16th century Flemish artist Breughel's peasant figures.

A parvane is a slow stately 16th century dance.

Kindly lent by Kate Reilly - Not For Sale

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"Olive Grove I" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

Olive Grove I

I love olive groves. We camped under these two ancient braided trees on Corfu on a carpet of wild cyclamen.

But my picture is an amalgam of places complete with a Greek donkey wearing blue beads to ward off the evil eye.

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Olive Grove I
acrylic on canvas - 60cm x 40cm - framed

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"Olive Grove II" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

Olive Grove II

Our Italian village friends grazed their goats in the neighbouring olive grove.

Lou was adapt at milking on the move with nothing but a bucket.

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Olive Grove I
acrylic on canvas - 60cm x 40cm - framed

   

"Storm approaching the Island 1" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Storm approaching the Island I

My fascination with Oia on Santorini is nowhere more evident than in this series of paintings. Most of the village is hollowed into the cliff-face, hundreds of feet above the water, where donkeys are the only form of transport apart from feet.

The modern bell-tower in the foreground still uses the ancient Minoan bull-horn motif.

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Storm approaching the Island I
acrylics on canvas - 80cm x 40cm - framed

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"Storm approaching the Island II" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Storm approaching the Island II

The Escher-like aspect of Oia allows me to indulge my love of playing with perspective.

The domed churches in the foreground are real enough but you won't find them exactly in this place. My Oia is as much a figment of my imagination as a geographical place.

We really did watch a storm approach the village and all the brilliant colours jump out of the startling white background.

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Storm approaching the Island II
acrylic on canvas - 80cm x 40cm - framed

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"Leaving Harbour" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Leaving Harbour

Greek boats - caiques - have a quality of their own. The small fishing boat tied up to the pinkish marble-pavement of the port has rowlocks made from forked tree branches brightly painted. I suppose that's how rowlocks evolved.

You'll never find this exact place. It exists only in my imagination.

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Leaving Harbour
acrylic on canvas - 70cm x 70cm - framed

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"Three Caiques" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Three Caiques

What beautiful shapes caiques have. Hardly changed throughout history, they resemble fat bottomed girls or pregnat seed-pods split open. And the colours! No two are alike. These three were sheltering in a Cretan harbour.

In my studio I have a fishing net, an oar and various nautical objects that help in pictures like this. I bunched up cushions in an old sheet to mimic the tied nets.

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Three Caiques
acrylic on canvas - 70cm x 70cm - framed

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"Her Favourite Flowers" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Her Favourite Flowers

I met my mother's lover in Paris. She calls him Jacques in "Peel Me a Lotus". Now he is a sick old man. I took him anemones bought from a street stall. He exclaimed at them, "But you know, they were Charmian's favourite flowers!"

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Her Favourite Flowers
acrylic on canvas - 80cm x 60cm - framed

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"Island Procession" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

Island Procession
acrylic on canvas - 80 x 60cm - framed

Island Procession

On Hydra there was a major festival the same day I was invited into 'the house by the well' - George Johnston and Charmain Clift's old house.

At the saint's modest church high above the waterfront the Greek orthodox hierarchy from the mainland had turned out inall their gorgeous array. Accompanied by a brass band, school girls casting rose petals, boys bearing banners, the worthies or Hydra and relics of the saint, they processed majestically downhill to the waterfront. Meanwhile I was stepping up - out onto my mother's terrace overlooking the sea. As my foot touched the paving every bell on the island began to peal. For Me?

This procession takes place on an island entirely of my imagination - I wanted to contrast the wonderful windmill shape against the overlarge domed church.

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"The Sponge-Seller -  Hydra" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

The Sponge-Seller - Hydra
oils over acrylic on canvas - 80cm x 60cm - framed

 
The Sponge-Seller - Hydra

It was winter when we stayed on Hydra - the tourists had gone home, the tourist shops were closed and barred. But once a day the cruise ship from Athens visited for an hour.

When the approaching ship's whistle blew every shop and cafe opened, all the goods were hurriedly displayed, donkeys were lined up at the wharf for rides and all the cats streamed down to the waterfront.

An hour later the ship's whistle blew again for the day trippers to re-embark and the whole process happened again in reverse.

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"Winter Evening" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

Winter Evening
oils over acrylic on canvas - 80cm x 60cm - framed

 
Winter Evening

Winter crossing the highway into an Italian village. He is dreaming of his fire, dinner and the TV. The donkey and the goat are dreaming of warm shelter and fodder. I am dreaming of the painting I can make of this one day.

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"Fish Shop" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

Fish Shop
acrylic on canvas - 80cm x 70cm - framed

 
Fish Shop

Hydra is an island without roads. Just one vehicle - a garbage truck - is allowed on the waterfront. For the rest supplies come from and by boat and are unloaded by strings of donkeys. In winter the large cat population lives on its wits and the leavings of fishermen.

I have a photograph of Charmian standing on these very steps though she wouldn't recognise the waterfront I have painted. Imagination again.

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"Walking Through Coquelicots" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

Amalfi Coast
acrylic on canvas - 105cm x 80cm - framed

 
Walking Through Coquelicots

Monet's painting of poppies in fields of grass have always moved me. In spring in the south of France we saw them in sheets. I cried.

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"Amalfi Coast" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Amalfi Coast

A strong Byzantine influence on this southern Italian coastline means churches with brilliantly tiled domes. And an impossibly tortuous road in the company of Italian drivers means a nervous breakdown.

Lemon orchards and olive groves are heavily and beautifully terraced and the warm Italian light casts an amber glow over the world

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Amalfi Coast
acrylic on canvas - 105cm x 80cm - framed

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"Doorway - Hydra" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Doorway - Hydra

Most doors on the island of Hydra are painted an intense blue. All the more reason for my captivation with this one.

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Doorway - Hydra
acrylic on paper - 35cm x 27 cm - framed

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"Gateway - Oia" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Gateway - Oia

The Santorini village of Oia is - next to Venice - the most intriguing place I have yet seen. Rebuilt after a severe earthquake in the 50's the buildings are hollowed out into the volcanic tufa, then rendered with concrete in the most amazing freeform ways.

If you imagine a marriage of forms by Henry Moore and Escher you're getting close.

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Gateway - Oia
acrylic on paper - 35cm x 27 cm - framed

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"Window - Dolcedo" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Window - Dolcedo

I was stopped in my tracks by the pattern of shadows on this sunlit wall in a small hill village in Italy.

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Window - Dolcedo
acrylic on paper - 35cm x 27 cm - framed

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"Monastery - Santorini" - Copyright Suzanne Chick 2000

 
Monastery - Santorini

Churches and monasteries have domes of brilliantly painted concrete - turquoises and blues predominate. In fact most of the poster images we associate with Greece come from this fascinating island.

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Monastery - Santorini
acrylic on paper - 35cm x 27 cm - framed

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Precinct Galleries - 2000
12-14 Alexandra Street (PO Box 105) Berry NSW 2535 AUSTRALIA
tel) +61 2 4464 3402 fax) +61 2 4464 3426
email: info@precinctgalleries.com.au

Please note that colours shown on this site are best approximations.

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