Étretat, Monet’s territory, Normandy Coast, France
The Process of experience
My French journey to the Étretat ocean sites of Monet's youth provided a fresh frame of reference, offering insights and connections to my Australian sites on the Pacific Coast.
Monet’s coastal paintings were records of Monet's embodied experience of his landscape. I retraced this landscape and from my immersive encounter with the sites Monet painted and drew, it was clear they involved a committed physical engagement within the landscape; extensive walking, steep declines, ascents and negotiating restrictive tidal coves; all of which I experienced myself in Étretat and resonated with a familiarity to my own coastal terrain in Australia.
The Étretat works on paper were made in the Paris studio and the paintings were made on my return to Australia. They are residues of my immersive experiences walking in a dramatic yet gentle landscape of multiple viewpoints and dissolving horizons. What struck a chord were the perceived shifts in physicality of weight of landforms, intrusions engulfed in hazy blues, chalky surfaces and broken edges. The works became an interplay between weight, balance, light and dissolving forms in space.