The sea is revelatory. Port Phillip Bay continues to act as muse for my painting in this body of work titled Water Mark, presenting the coastline and horizon, the sea and airy clouded spaces of various and infinite confluence. Underpinning these natural forms I am always aware of the presence of the grid providing a structural balance to the space upon which my work is constructed. The collage elements refer to the materiality of the surface, the methodologies of studio practice and, in this instance, the question of what lies below the surface of the sea.
With me on this endeavour have been the Envelope Poems of Emily Dickinson, and the Four Quartets poem ‘East Coker’ by T. S. Eliot. Eliot’s initial line ‘In my beginning is my end’ led me to consider where paintings begin and where they finish, and from there allowing me to attend to the sides of the canvas more closely and to engage with a chance glimpse or a sideways glance, or perhaps an afterimage. The Envelope Poems, fragments written by Dickinson in pencil on the first paper to hand, assisted in my imagining poetry rather than pollution* washing on to the shores of the Bay.
Lynne Boyd, 2019
*The Age, July 7, 2018, revealed that more than 820 million pieces of mainly plastic litter were flowing into the Bay each year from the Maribyrnong and Yarra rivers.
Lynne Boyd grew up in Pascoe Vale in the 60s and 70s and moved into a share house in Albert Park when she was completing her studies at the VCA in the early 80s. It was then that Port Phillip Bay became her muse. She moved to South Melbourne, then to St Kilda, and has been living and working in Brighton for the last 25 years. Throughout the years, the central theme of her work - principally painting, drawing and collage – continues to be the Bay.
Lynne is sensitive to subtleties: whether it’s the texture of a fabric, the tone of a singer’s voice, or a tweak in the hue of a colour, she seems to always notice these details and take great pleasure in their existence. These delicacies infuse her paintings: her gentle touch works smoky layers and ethereal gradations into her sometimes abstracted, but always recognisable, seascapes. This handling suits her subject perfectly: where the sky meets the sea is an ever-changing sight, with clouds and light forever concealing and revealing what’s on the horizon. Lynne has a special ability to capture the varying states of atmospheric change. In particular, the hazy, glary, pearlescent quality of our Port Phillip Bay. Clarice Beckett, whom Lynne admires greatly, shared the Bay as a muse, but because she was only free to paint at dawn or dusk, her views were limited by the low light levels. Thankfully, unlike Beckett, Lynne enjoys a more liberal practice as she is able to capture the Bay at all hours.
It’s difficult, and foolish, to ignore the degradation of seas and waterways across the globe, and Lynne’s concern for the Bay informs this body of work. The rubbish in our oceans (overwhelmingly single use plastics) is increasing, and Lynne’s Flotsam & Jetsam paintings, as well as the Wavelets, document this. On a formal level, she has picked up traces of the colours, shapes and patterns of the brightly coloured plastic detritus that invade our beaches and incorporated them into her paintings. Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems – where words are plucked from the poet’s increasingly limited environment and jotted on the backs of old envelopes - use a similar process, in my view, to create her characteristically concise insights. Dickinson’s poems have, as Lynne puts it, been with her on the journey of creating this body of work, as has – and is always – music. The first thing Lynne does when entering the studio is to turn on some music which she finds a great transporter into all her creative art.
A shift we’ve not seen before in Boyd’s usually pale palette, is the expansion of the high key colours of the flotsam and jetsam to fill entire canvases and bring her work close to geometric abstraction. This Heat, Silver Sea I, for example, evokes both a beach littered with towels, umbrellas, tents and bikini clad bodies, as well as a rainbow flavoured (plastic wrapped) icy pole.