You can’t look directly at the sun,
but you can look at the lingering light on leaves,
the morning walker,
the open window.
You can look at these paintings.
- Elynor Smithwick
Elynor Smithwick is an Australian artist who draws on the connective similarities we all share. Her paintings resonate with an unplaceable sense of nostalgia, a feeling which seeps into viewers perceptions like slipping back into a still warm bed or picking up a story where you left off.
Growing up in Albury, NSW Elynor spent two years living abroad, experiencing European countries before moving to Melbourne in 2014 where she began studies in Visual Art. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Honours (2019) and Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting (2018), at the Victorian College of the Arts as well as Certificates III and IV in Visual Arts at CAE, Melbourne (2014-2015) before responding to a need to return “home” which had remained Albury.
Elynor’s work is distinguished by a strong and consistent figurative representation of interiors and landscapes which centre around the transitory nature of existence. Through a chiaroscuro of elemental tones — ochre, aquatic and midnight blues, verdant greens and greys both illuminated and hidden by shadow play — scenes emerge filled with a palpable atmosphere leading to natural contemplation. Elynor’s paintings are a receptacle for her imagination, a depository of nostalgia which conjures an evocative sense of place.
Figures are a constant thread reappearing across the breadth of Elynor’s work, unifying it and ensuring the scenes depicted remain grounded in the comforting realm of human perspective. Framed aspects through windows, where the exterior is the stage, embody a wistful sentiment while tableaus of idyllic outdoor scenes are intriguingly marred by the presence of details that stop just shy of picturesque. This subtle chicanery coaxes further inquiry into just what is happening within the depths of the story.
Elynor’s paintings are rich visual narratives, meeting somewhere between her subconscious and her lived experiences. Their origins lie in books, films and photographs which capture a moment in time that can then be extrapolated. Anchored by realism, each scene is a prologue where Elynor mediates between duality and sincerity in a way that feels like permission for her work to be digested effortlessly and without judgement.
While largely intuitive, “Another Word For Sun” is a continuation of Elynor’s 2020 exhibition “I Haven’t Seen The Moon Tonight.” A natural evolution informed by her continued collection of personal experiences, her growing skills as an artist and the storytelling quality established in her earlier exhibition.
Each painting across this new iteration resurrects the presence of the lone figure, with a handful of paintings evolving it through the suggestion of another. This tertiary presence is presented through literal reflection, or the presence of an atmosphere that beckons the viewer, amplifying their own perspective onto the story depicted within and between each painting. One which Elynor leaves with the suggestion of an unending, much like an ellipsis on the end of a sentence, allowing space for the imagination to fill in its own continuation of the story that Elynor’s brush has left paused for readiness of animation.
Written by Tiffany Jade.
IN CONVERSATION WITH ELYNOR SMITHWICkOTOMYS: For you, is painting an avenue for you to direct your thinking mind or is it a period of respite from it?Elynor Smithwick: I’d say both really. When I’m in the space to paint it’s not that I turn my mind off so much, it’s just more tuned into what’s in front of me. It's a respite in the way that when I’m away from my studio I’m usually thinking about it, filtering scenes before me in a house or on the street wondering how it might look as a painting. It can get tiresome to be honest because I know I’m not going to paint or draw everything I see, nor do I want to, I think my brain is just wired that way now. So it is a relief when I'm in the studio because I can put my mind at ease and get on with whatever it is I’m working on. I consciously collect personal photos, sketches, film stills I resonate with to channel my focus into. It’s a peace of mind to have these references if I ever feel I’m being over saturated by the assortment of environments I’m consuming on a daily basis.OTOMYS: Has your time spent living and practising at art residencies changed the way you view the Australian landscapes?Elynor Smithwick: Not entirely changed it, but reminded me of what the landscape can offer. Especially the residency in Taungurung country (Mount Buller), it was like I was walking through an enchanting book - it was absolutely charged with beauty and a sense of eeriness. The weather was so present and consuming, even invasive. Being here not only made me question what I was seeing and experiencing but what the land itself has seen and experienced, the history it bares and how it retains this. I’d visited neither Mount Buller or Kyneton before doing the residencies so both places were new to me. There’s one thing knowing a place exists but then another to actually visit it and experience it for yourself.OTOMYS: Do you feel a difference in your painting when you are recreating a place purely from memory versus when you are depicting what is right in front of you?Elynor Smithwick: Definitely. If I’m trying to depict something straight from my memory without any material reference it can get pretty lost. If I’m painting a still life or landscape that’s right in front of me, the battle is halved because I’m already perceiving what it is I’ll be painting. But I think painting is most rewarding for me when I’m combining my imagination with something tangible that I’m referring to - whether it be a physical image or maybe something in my studio, house, or outside my window. I think I’m most satisfied when I’m merging these two things. When I say ‘my imagination’ it can be the colours and textures that I’m deciding to use or curating the subject of the painting with various source material. It can be similar to a collage in that way.OTOMYS: Have you enjoyed a particular book recently?Elynor Smithwick: A book on David Hockney’s art career and life called ‘Spring cannot be cancelled’. I really love the title, it was a fun read. I also recently enjoyed Sally Rooney’s book ‘Beautiful world, where are you?’ Once again, love the title and the book itself was really good, she creates characters so well and makes you feel like you’re really experiencing someone else’s private life.
AUD prices include 10% GST (applicable to Australian buyers only).Art Money is available to residents of Australia, New Zealand and the United States.Art Money - 10 payments - 10 months - no interest - take your art home today.
Elynor Smithwick: Another Word For Sun