Wildlife has been an inspiration to Graeme Townsend for over two decades, and his paintings and drawings reflect his love of the natural world and the visual treasures he finds there. His recent work continues to explore the issues arising in the meeting of man and nature – man’s impact on the environment and how nature has responded to that impact. “My current work depicts how we have harnessed various animals over the years to do our bidding. Other works depict the mythology that we assigned to certain animals. There are references to where we came from such as the primates dreaming of reaching the stars and man’s deep desire to fly, surely a desire we must have had as far back as mankind was able to wonder at the freedom of a bird.” Graeme draws on fantasy and surrealism and takes inspiration from the works of Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte, and German romantic and allegorical landscape painter, Caspar David Friedrich. A multitude of animals inhabit his landscapes of possibilities – each work a part of a bigger story – like illustrations accompanying a rare book of fables. The fine detail is mesmerising; a pigeon’s wing feather, a water droplet on a leaf, a distant cloud. We are immediately drawn in by the pristine surfaces of the paintings, then compelled to weave the fragments of information into stories for ourselves.
Graeme Townsend was born in Sydney, and studied at both the Julian Ashton School and Alexander Mackie College. Since 1979, Graeme has undertaken painting and photographic expeditions to Borneo, Africa, Asia, America and outback Australia. In 1991, he was a lecturer in acrylic painting at the Julian Ashton school and has had many solo exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth as well as the USA, Japan and Hong Kong. His work has been hung in the Sulman and Wynne prize exhibitions at the Art Gallery of NSW.