A book I received last week from a relative has prompted memories of New Zealand. Its title is ‘Timeless Land’ and it contains reproductions of paintings by Grahame Sydney of the landscapes of Central Otago on South Island where he lives. On my first visit in 1999 I was privileged to meet him briefly at a major retrospective of his work in Dunedin. Although he is New Zealand’s most successful contemporary painter his work is not generally known.
The landscape of Central Otago on superficial acquaintance does not seem to offer the painter many subjects. It is a wild landscape of eroded gullies; there are dilapidated farmsteads, empty shearing sheds and disused railway buildings, roads that appear to go nowhere. To capture the spirit of this landscape requires contemplation in Grahame Sydney’s words, "I’m the long stare rather than the quick glimpse." So his beautifully crafted paintings deal with acutely observed incidents, the shadow patterns created by the play of light across weatherboarded buildings or eroded hillsides. That’s about all there is in Central Otago but it is a landscape which is home to him.
You can get to know these paintings by visiting Grahame Sydney's web site.