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ROSALIE NORAH KING GASCOIGNE (1917-1999)
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ROSALIE NORAH KING GASCOIGNE (1917-1999)

SHORELINE

Details
ROSALIE NORAH KING GASCOIGNE (1917-1999)
SHORELINE
signed with initials, titled and dated 'Shoreline/1986/R.G.' (on the reverse)
linoleum and retro-reflective road sign on wood
53.5 x 107.5 cm
1
Provenance
Pinacotheca, Melbourne
Private collection, Melbourne
Literature
Art & Australia, vol.35. no.21, 1997, illus. p. 159
V. Macdonald, Rosalie Gascoigne, Sydney, 1998, p. 115, illus. pl. 42, p. 80
D. Edwards, Rosalie Gascoigne: Material as Landscape, Sydney, 1998, illus. pl. 12, p. 34
Exhibited
Melbourne, Pinacotheca, Rosalie Gascoigne, 15 October - 1 November 1986, cat. no. 8
Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Rosalie Gascoigne: Material as Landscape, 14 November 1997 - 11 January 1998
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Lot Essay

"That's the first of those (formboard landscapes) I did. It was a happy accident because it grew on the floor, I kept dropping another piece of broken wood. This linoleum, it was just the right blue, gave you the sea back... it was evocative to me of the beach down at Guerilla Bay. There's an island in the middle of it, and surf. I hate surf because I'm a New Zealander, I like calm seas - I'm terrified of that Australian surf. And the light, which is brilliant down there, brilliant. The light kills you here, you know, if you're born somewhere else." (Rosalie Gascoigne discussing Shoreline, cited in V. Macdonald, op.cit, p. 80)

Gascoigne's only formal artistic training was in the art of Ikebana, which she studied and practised extensively, before turning to sculptural assemblages made out of wood, scrap metal and found objects in the mid 1960s. However, this training, combined with her gift for seeing aesthetic qualities in the most unlikely materials, resulted in a landscape-based art that is uniquely beautiful and perceptive.

Shoreline is a work in which colour and form are given equal roles to play. As in all of Gascoigne's work, the materials used are not just the means but are also an important repository of meaning. Shoreline is not only the first work in which the artist used formboard, (a curved wood used in the production of concrete pillars) but is also one of the earliest works to incorporate fragments of retro-reflective road signs. In later works, Gascoigne used retro-reflective road signs as the sole material in grid-like compositions that tease the viewer with the complicity and conflict between word and image. In this work however, it is the luminous colour of the material, suggesting both sun and sand, that is paramount. Text is all but effaced, rendering the relationship between word and image a harmonious one, with the merest hints of lettering curving, projecting and complying with the evocation of terrain.

The blue linoleum becomes both sea and sky, a cloud shaped fragment drifting in the lower left hand corner. Despite the solidity of the horizontal composition of the work, there is also an elusive sense of movement in Shoreline; a movement suggested through the uneven right hand edge of the work, the crescent-shaped protrusion along the top and the contrast between the close joins and slippages of the collaged panels. The extension of the work's physical boundaries mirror Gascoigne's exploration of the perceived boundaries of landscape art. Like all of Australia's great landscape artists, her willingness to challenge and extend these boundaries results in a refreshment of vision, enabling us to see beauty in the previously overlooked and familiar.
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