An unexpected invitation to join an expedition to Cape York turned out to be the genesis of this exhibition of landscape paintings. We set out from Cooroy on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, travelling all the way to the tip of Cape York and back in August 2009. In my first real encounter with the landscapes of Queensland and the far north I saw much that was new and exciting. As the trip's photographer, I amassed plenty of material.
In spite of the novelty - and at risk of seeming to contradict myself - no matter where one travels in Australia there are always undertones of familiarity. Perhaps a unity bred of this continent's separation from other landmasses over geological time pervades even the exotic north, a certain consistency of physical features and biology across vast distances and radically different climate zones.
The works were created in the studio on returning from the trip. I wanted to create as near as possible a sensual experience, to enable the viewer to enter that space, that landscape, experience its atmosphere, physical conditions and the sensations that shaped my experience of that location at that time. Attempting to create such a genuine sense of place requires more than a careful handling of all the details in the source material. It demands art. And that is the demand I have tried to fulfil.
Long time friend and fellow artist Martin King, who has himself spent some time in the far north, remarked that:
"These new paintings invite you to share a journey beyond the Tropic of Capricorn. Some works spread out like the distant, shimmering views from the car window, others reveal glimpses of the landscape in the still heat and solitude of the far north. It is obvious James has immersed himself in this landscape and made these paintings as an ode to the magic of Cape York."
Cape York is indeed a magical place. Few Australians get to see it. I count myself lucky to have been one. I hope that you too will find some of the magic revealed in this series of paintings.
James Yuncken, July 2010