In Conversation with Lindsay Blamey

Ahead of his solo show LIMINAL, we sat down with Blamey to discuss his explorations of liminality and change within this new body of work. 
OTOMYS: When creating this body of work, what drew you to the theme of liminality?
Lindsay Blamey: A common thread through most of my work is that they convey a stillness, a silence, and a sense of awaiting. I feel this is the best way to describe the essence or feeling that makes my works resonate with the viewer.
There is an underlying narrative of ‘what was/what’s next’. I feel the works portray that moment on the threshold, right in the eye of change/transition. The works rest in that moment and they are continuously breathing this endless narrative. The narrative is always open, and it invites the viewer to almost belong within the work. It’s a liminal space, a liminal feeling, and importantly for me a feeling of optimism. Some earlier works Comfort in Change and a Northern Promise are also examples of this theme. The black cockatoos used in some of my works are said represent change and enlightenment in Aboriginal culture. The figure in the work acts as an entry point for the viewer to experience the work through the eyes of the figure which helps to engage the viewer, encouraging them to experience that feeling. 
While ‘liminal’ describes that sense or feeling, a lot of my work is originally born out of exploring the juxtaposition of a rural upbringing and later living in the city. There are many layers to that experience. There is a mental and physical lifestyle change. I have always admired the quote "You can take a boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” I feel the more distant my rural childhood memories are in time, the more I reflect upon it and the more I draw upon it within my creative process. A lot of the subject matter taps into themes of nostalgia, memory and experience.
Most of these works were created during and post the 'lockdown' periods. This was also a time of uncertainty and a time of reflection as the world was very much suspended and in a liminal state. 
OTOMYS: You have mentioned that you believe your works like Morning Tree, that feature a standalone gum, are the most representative of your style. How did you come to this style initially?
Lindsay Blamey: My style developed from my love of all forms of art but particularly photography and painting. On first viewing it isn’t easy to distinguish whether these works are photographic, illustrated or painted, as the mediums are blurred. They are composed from several images collected over time from a range of locations. These images are manipulated with software in much the same way traditional photographic images were treated in the darkroom. They are then tended to on screen and developed using layers and elements and revisited many times and edited in the same way a painter may tend to a painted canvas on an easel in the studio. 
In my early landscapes, people often drew a connection to the paintings of Jeffrey Smart. While he was an early influence, and I learnt a lot about light and composition from studying his work, I try to and distance myself form that connection now. These works are void of those references and are reliant on my now recognised style.
These pieces are most representative of my style as they are stripped back to the core imagery and strongly rely on the use of tone and light, which I think defines my work and creates a unique and lasting image. The light plays a key part of the imagery as it is the element which brings all the layers together and portrays a particularly familiar Australian light. It also enhances the feeling of nostalgia and the experience of how we might perceive or recreate a memory. The result also creates a stillness or silence within the image.
OTOMYS: How has your practice evolved since embarking on this exploration of liminality?  
Lindsay Blamey: The liminal element has always been a part of my work, it’s developed subconsciously. I think now I have more awareness on how it contributes to my work. It helps me to decipher the previous work and shapes my art going forward. It’s made me focus more on the relationship between the different environments and the symbolism of subject matter, and how that relates to the experiences and feelings that are attached. 
OTOMYS: How does the theme of liminality intersect with your past explorations of memory and dreams? 
Lindsay Blamey: I think it’s largely a continuation of previous works. While these themes have always been prevalent, I was much more aware of them creating these works. It was more profound. A lot these pieces were created during the lock-down phases which I think influenced my creative process. I drew on past experiences and those feelings more as they seemed more distant in a time when there were a lot of unknowns.
OTOMYS: Having grown up in rural Victoria, do you return to the places of your childhood to capture your images? Where else do you look for visual inspiration, and what is your connection to these places? 
Lindsay Blamey: Yes, a lot of my subject matter and elements were captured along the well-worn paths from country to city. But it’s also about tapping into the psyche of those places and feelings that can drive the inspiration. It’s like filling the emptiness with optimism. Often the best visual inspiration comes when I’m not actively looking for it. I’m constantly discovering subjects in my daily life that belong in my artistic world. I also get inspiration from artists, photographers, movies etc., but mostly from my surroundings. Up until this point most of my work is un-staged. I like that element of discovery and I think it gives my work a unique feel. 
OTOMYS‘Dawn Chorus’ is a unique work within this series through its inclusion of bright-red native flowers. What is the significance of this addition?
Lindsay Blamey: More recently I’ve explored using native plants and the use of red has been a constant in my work; I like the juxtaposition against the neutral colours. In this piece the red compliments the Cockatoos and also brings a visual vitality and energy to the work. For me the liminal theme is one of optimism and positivity. Dawn Chorus echoes that sense within the exhibition. The title references birds singing at the start of new day.
October 5, 2022