2006 Penumbra


Like White Lines these paintings represent my journey through the landscape. The works started with an art  residency at Bundanon with it's fluorescent green fields and dense bushland stepped in the history and emotive paintings of Arthur Boyd. Bundanon is a melancholic place stranded in shadow between the rocky escarpment with its ancient cycads, lightning storms and the dark engulfing Shoalhaven River. The journey continued to Auckland to the outer harbour island of Rangitoto, an evocative, primitive place where you walk on vitrified lava surrounded by fern glens to the crater of the volcano. Then to the panorama of Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain, with its windswept icy moors and ancient forests, to the Great Southern Road returning to Bronte with its urban coastline.


The Penumbra series of work were shown in the Ground Floor Space at Mary Place Gallery in Paddington. While in the First Floor Gallery Patricia Verdan showcased her evocative body of photgraphic works Shadowland. Patricia and I met at the Bundanon Residency and have maintained a professional relationship since. 

Anita Traverso from Anita Traverso Gallery visited the gallery during the exhibition and chose a selection of works for the 2007 my up coming group show at her gallery titled Journey 3, Courtenay + Nicholas + Way. Read more about that in year 2008




Penumbra: "a space of partial illumination between the perfect

shadow on all sides and the full light."




Catalogue Essay 2006


Gabrielle Courtenay's painting is a direct emotional response to specific time and place. Courtenay's paintings are totemic; the white line does not represent the physical energy of light but a journey through a specific place. The line is sensual and the narrowing of the line heightens tension capturing the sublime in nature.


In this new exhibition, there are distinct groups of work that carry through elements of previous shows."I first used a white line to denote the energy and symbolic passion of the rose in 'Shift' and in 'Allure'.Then in 'New Painting' monochrome white works were set up against a central shadow or "slash" to create both beauty and surface tension in works that allude to flower/ body/ landscape."


There was a subtle change of consciousness in 'New Painting', where in Dark 1 & 2 white replaced the shadow to denote the journey of self through the body/ landscape. This formula was repeated in her last show 'White Lines' where white lines were juxtaposed against dark saturated forms to express her emotional journey over the scarred earth of Hill End with it's air and intensity of light.


In Penumbra white lines and planes of discordant colours are used in works such as 'penumbra' and 'bird on track' to evoke the drama of being in the dark bush land at Bundanon. "Standing on the top of the escarpment and observing the line of the river far below led to a different response to imaging the land." The painting 'amphitheater' is simplified to a mapping reference,but maintains the familiarity of the feminine in it's curved lines and the projection of self is distanced. In 'red tide' white forms an non representational colour are used to evoke the power and presence of place.


Courtenay's penumbra relates to the intense light & shadows in an eclipse. These paintings are her eclipse through landscape and allows the viewer to take a journey of not only landscape but our awareness of our place within it through a myriad of emotional analogies


Dorothy Coleman, September 06.