Statement 3

From the lingering presence of the past in Australia to the contemplative depths of the River Waveney in Norfolk, Rhonda Whitehead captures the essence of place.

She comes originally from Australia and – re-visiting – was stunned by the land; rife with subtle alteration and elemental shock. She responded to the shift of light, the menace of shade, the searing sun; her abstractions revealing an instinctive eye for haunting variations. There are landscapes where ghostly figures might be emerging from the past and entering the present.

She works in oil, pastel and pencil and, in England, spends much time by the River Waveney. She interprets changes on the water’s surface; the play of colour and light and the snag and flow of vegetation.

“My interest is to use the right medium in a minimal way,” she says. Brushes achieve the sprinkled effect of floating growth with depths of green and blue and interceding yellow. She scrapes to reveal glimpses of ground colour. There are particularly subtle works in pencil, with tonal hints like intimations of waterborne life.

These are meditative yet endlessly changing surfaces; bearing one on positive streams of colour or engaging the eye, as elements swirl and are transformed.

The artist was born in Sydney, Australia and in 1971 gained an MA in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. She has exhibited widely in group and solo shows. Commissions have included murals for a community centre and pedestrian subway in north London. She won two bronze medals and, in 1973, a silver medal in the Europe Prize for Painting, Ostend, Belgium.