Not Just a Pretty Picture: Selling the Past to the Future

Four (4) paintings, three (3) 198 x 270 cm and one (1) 122 x 158 cm, oil on linen, 2018 – 2023, three (3) hung together in juxtaposition with Solastalgia, and the remaining one (1), hanging upstairs in the Kauna Building foyer together with Not really Single Use, oil on canvas board, 53.5 x 43.5 cm (framed).

Ross paints the coast to honour the beauty of it, and to capture the feeling and memory of what it means to be situated in it. A strong and collective Australian psyche entwines our beaches. We are a nation girt by sea, and that fact perhaps provides a national sense of remoteness. In South Australia, where population is relatively small (especially in regional coastal areas), Ross is aware of the privilege of being alone on a beach - to be fully in tune with the place, without distraction.

In her thinking and making, Ross seeks to draw attention to the fact that in South Australia, we continued to be privileged, having what appear to be pristine beaches that are free of mass plastics and pollution. But they not in fact pristine, as pollution lurks in both macro and micro forms in the waters, the sea bed and captured in weeds and rocky forms.

With a sense that in a post-humanist world where collective consciousness is turning toward ecological understanding that humans are part of nature, and cannot continue to dominate it, Ross argues that representational art has a place. To see beauty recognized as a subject of works when so much climate art is full of dystopia, angst, and existentialism is for Ross, to offer some balance. Perhaps even hope. It is also to raise cognition about the vulnerability of such places.

Of her work, Ross states:

'Employing the reactionary potential of art, is to encourage thinking about ecological preservation and health prolongation of threatened places (through climate change abatement measures). I aim for viewer  subjectification and resonance in circumstances of negative transformations becoming a new form of normal.  In putting forward narrative works, I acknowledge that viewers complete the work in viewing – which is informed by their own knowledge, backgrounds, and beliefs. In this way, an artwork is relational'.

Scientists predict that by 2050, much of the South Australian coastline will be under threat of inundation owing to warming seas and related sea-level rise.  Ross creatively joins the climate change conversation about expected impacts of sea-level rise, artistically questioning 'might the only place we see the Australian coastlines we now so enjoy, on a gallery wall?.'  With this concern in mind, Ross has painted the scenes here seen as large scale immersive works, that provide space for viewer inclusion and comprehension. Ross has another purpose too, in presenting these works, Ross seeks to share her enthusiasm for our Australian coast, in the hope that doing so will inspire understanding and affect toward action for the mitigation of ongoing adverse climate impacts. The works are a celebration of the beauty we now enjoy.