It was a beautiful thing to see, like something from a myth. I don’t know why I thought of that now, except perhaps because it is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash.

Gilead (2004) by Marilynne Robinson

Loralee Jade approaches each canvas with freedom, allowing her paintings to emerge intuitively. Her style is organic abstraction with elements of colour blocking. When she paints she works on multiple pieces at the same time, allowing the process to be fluid and visceral. She does not work from resource images but instead reacts to the present moment, to the paint and the canvas, coming to the work open and neutral, ready to receive. 

Her philosophy to life translates into the paintings themselves. Slow down, be present, spend time inside your body and your mind and whatever comes will come. Don’t run from the pain it may bring, but allow it all to wash over you. Loralee returns to water in her work like a compulsion, it’s duplicitous nature of giving life and destroying.

Remains of Mourning from Loralee’s recent series draws upon these ideas. This piece is less structured than others in Reflection pond and it manages to be equally dramatic and peaceful. From afar a clay pink dominates the canvas but as you draw closer, a rich diversity of colour emerges. Layers of sky blue and terracotta streak gently across the canvas as though the rain had exposed what was underneath the surface. Dark velvet-mauve shapes float abstractly through the work creating different images in the negative space and between the shapes themselves as your mind reaches for the familiar. 

Loralee’s exhibition title plays on the idea of reflection pools, the large serene bodies of water that are designed to create a calm glass or mirror-like surface. These works look at the timelessness and unreliability of memory. The vague nostalgias of playing near water, building small dams in rivers, and dipping feet in ponds. Memories you can’t quite put your finger on, mingling together to create the moment you’re in. The part of you that is currently reflected in the surface, the days you remember, only a thin unreliable layer covering a lifetime, disturbed by the slightest ripple. 

The individual paintings in this body of work were named after ideas in Katherine May’s Wintering(2021), a memoir that encourages readers to embrace the natural seasons of life, the cold dark times that force stillness and require you to reflect and allow all emotions, no matter how painful, to remain.These works are softer than Loralee’s previous paintings. Hard lines and sharp contrast have been replaced by fluid strokes and warped shapes that mimic gently disrupted water. Her palette consists ofearthy pinks and mossy greens, with unexpected moments of bright colour like a speckle of purple-blue light that your eyes can’t quite grab onto. 

Outstretched to meet the rain is a large mossy green piece layered with translucent sap browns, emeralds, and vivid purple washes. There is a depth to the work that gives the painting a sense of movement, as if something is emerging from beneath. There is an energy that radiates from the centre of the painting, swirling shapes and brushstrokes that give the impression of objects circulating out from the centre of the piece. As your eyes hungrily look around to make sense of the work, images appear such as ripples, eucalyptus leaves, the reflection of light on the surface of water. If you readjust your eyes, islands emerge, an abstracted figure, a map, a river. The layered application alludes to the glimpses of memories held in our mind and our subconscious. 

Anyone who grew up near the water understands its duality. It wields a power that can both destroy and heal. It can lift the weight of both our body and  our burdens. It allows us to float and connect again to a place that is deeper and wider than imagination.

Tashi Columbro

Images courtesy of STABLE.

‘Outstretched to meet the rain’ oil on linen 36 x 48” 2021 frame: braided linen

‘Released in the breeze’ oil on linen 16 x 20” 2021 frame: braided linen dyed with black beans 

‘Close your eyes to see clearly’ oil on linen 16 x 20” 2021 frame: braided linen dyed with avocado and chlorella 

‘Remains of mourning’ oil on linen 16 x 20” 2021 frame: braided linen dyed avocado, lychee and dandelion root

‘Web of reciprocity’ oil on linen 16 x 20” 2021 frame: braided linen dyed chlorella 

‘Floating in the pond’ oil on linen 24 x 36” 2021 frame: braided linen dyed avocado and chlorella 

‘The place you become yourself’ oil on linen 16 x 20” 2021 frame: braided linen dyed with avocado 

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