Related work: Kiah River near Eden, 1977, acrylic on canvas, 124.7 x 304.5 cm, Collection: Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
The career of William Delafield Cook spans an impressive and diverse course. From his experimental abstract pieces, to the realistic studies of everyday life; a leather armchair, the spray of a sprinkler or a haystack, to his quirky depictions of poised vegetables, Delafield Cook has developed into a master of precision. However, it is Delafield Cook's iconic pictorial monologues of the Australian landscape of the late 1970s and 1980s that stands him apart.
Like a photograph, Delafield Cook's canvases capture a certain place at a certain time. He would take pictures of a panorama with documented detail, then return to his studio, leaving the distractions of 'plein-air' painting behind, and paint meticulously from the composite snapshots. Consciously these scenic portrayals would become homage to the country in which the artist grew up. This affinity with the landscape, this precise detail was "Cook's long-held aim to convey the intensity of the real through protracted concentration ...that more than ever before were connected with a sense of place, with a rekindling of memory'. (D Hart, William Delafield Cook, Sydney, 1998, p. 167).
For Delafield Cook, origins, in terms of place and family are immensely important. Over many years during school holidays in Australia, the Cook family retreated to the same tranquil position near Eden on the Kiah River. Here they would go camping, swimming and fishing with this rocky and wooded outlook before them continually changing and transmuting throughout the day and ultimately the years. Kiah River Re-visited (1984) is the return of his earlier 1977 work, Kiah River near Eden. Compared to its related work housed in the Art Gallery of South Australia, Kiah River Revisited is a painting that acknowledges the natural processes of the environment. Whether it be the flood of years prior washing away the faceted rock structures or the infinite tones of light and colour cast upon the scene, it documents the way a place has changed and evolved.