In Conversation with Elynor Smithwick

In the lead up to Elynor Smithwick and Kathryn Dolby's duo-show Moving, Still, the Otomys team sat down with Elynor to discuss the ideas behind this collaborative exhibition. 

OTOMYS: Moving, Still is a shared experience between you and Kathryn Dolby. How did you and Kathryn develop the idea for this exhibition? 
Elynor Smithwick: This show came about so effortlessly. During initial conversations we discovered that there were many similarities that bridged our two practices. It was fantastic to connect with an artist that shares my appreciation for the natural world and works to capture the mood and energy of a landscape. After sharing one of my favourite books with Katherine, In and Out of the Garden by Klaus Ottmann, we were both inspired by the ideas and images within the book and could see parallels to our work. 
Working closely with another artist to create a harmonious body of work has been a new and exciting territory for me. It has allowed me to explore new themes, ideas and materials. Painting can be such a solitary profession, so it has been refreshing to collaborate with another artist. 
OTOMYS: Last year you completed an art residency in Provence, France. Within this exhibition, pastoral scenes of relaxed figures in verdant landscapes have strong visual links to French Romanticism and Impressionism. Has this residency influenced your work for Moving, Still
Elynor Smithwick: The paintings that I saw during my travels to Paris and Provence urged me to further develop familiar themes of bucolic landscapes and light-filled interiors. I was both inspired and comforted by the masterful artworks that I was surrounded by.
The paintings I completed during my residency were primarily depictions of my immediate surroundings, focused on the lush gardens and interiors of the villas I was living in. Echoing the delicate atmosphere of the French countryside, these paintings had a softer palette and handling of paint. After returning to my studio in Australia, I was keen to strengthen the ideas I had developed in Provence. 
The paintings for Moving, Still show are a mixture of my direct experience in France and a homage to the work of Pierre Bonnard. Throughout this body of work I have been more heavy handed with the paint and explorative with my colours.
OTOMYS: Your paintings for Moving, Still feature a light and whimsical colour palette of pale blues, bright greens and romantic pinks. Is there meaning behind you colour palette?
Elynor Smithwick: The palette for Moving, Still is a continuation of the colours and mood that I have explored regularly throughout my practice. The palette is an intuitive decision, guided by memories and the emotions associated with these recollections. Interestingly, the palette for many works within this series was also guided by a series of black and white photographs I took during my residency. Referencing a monochromatic image allowed me to look to my memory for colour, elevating and altering colours in a way that I thought best.
February 22, 2023