Phillip Edwards

Fire belongs like rain

When an artist paints with an emotional connection to place the ageless genre of landscape moves beyond mere representation. Landscape watercolourist Phillip Edwards’ first Sydney solo exhibition “Fire belongs like rain” does just that with evocative paintings of snow dusted and burnt Australian Alps. The works of Mt Buffalo in central Victoria indicate an intimate relationship with his mountain. Edwards says ‘Buffalo has been my happy place over the past 4 years snow shoe hiking in mid-winter has been a deeply renewing activity. It resets my egocentric mind and holds me in a liminal space between my reality and quiet rest.’

“Fire belongs like rain’, the show’s title, came whilst Edwards was completing one of his watercolours. “The title recognised the balance of pain and joy we all experience and that dichotomy mirrored in the fires on the mountain followed by snow. This very natural theme has been playing out in NSW over the past eighteen months. Pain/Fire and Joy/rain is ever present. This is where the mere representation of landscape departs in Edwards work. The work titled ‘Bad Buffalo in good light’ 2021 exemplifies this departure. The large-scale watercolour is moody melancholy and heaving with expressive energy. Haphazard bleeds, strategic masking and a passion for mark making lifts landscape beyond and well into the expressiveness of the English Romantics. Edwards like the Romantics loves wild weather conditions and the atmospherics it creates.

The works were documented during a night hike on the mountains fire affected western wall. ‘My heart sunk when the fires burnt my beloved mountain but it is as renewable and robust and my own constitution’ He was presently surprised to find pockets of beauty amongst the remains with the button grasses resprouting and wombat tracks aplenty.

Phillip Edwards is an artist from (Daylesford) in the Victorian central highlands. He studied Fine arts at The Victorian Collage of Art in the early 1990’s graduating with a Bachelor in fine art painting.  A former secondary art teacher of 16 years, Edwards was the Winner of the 2018 Wynne Prize Trustees Watercolour Prize at Art Gallery of NSW and is a member of the AWI Australian Watercolour Institute.

“When I hike in back country I’m totally present in a contemplative way. Be it a snow drift or local creek I’m drawn in by the macro and micro. Mountains, outcrops, tree and streams and as I look down the mosses and ground covers. For me my paintings capture that invisible energy behind all things. A mystical encounter with beauty.”

Phillip Edwards