Sydney-based artist Paul White has unveiled a new series that shows the Outback through the lens of human intervention.
The series, called Dirty Diesel & Dusty Deeds, features the snapshot-style drawings of things and places Paul noticed while travelling several times from Melbourne to Mildura and Broken Hill. These include old cars, dead animals, and abandoned settlements.
According to Paul, these things and places reflect the many ways we humans have changed the land – for better or worse. But mostly worse.
“From the seemingly insignificant to the devastating and daunting Dirty Diesel & Dusty Deeds brings the viewer face to face with the ways in which their hand has cracked and moulded this red earth.”
We caught up with Paul to learn more about the series. Take a look:
Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming an artist, and to doing what you’re doing today?
“I grew up in the suburbs of Sydney and as far back as I can remember I loved drawing and making things in general. I saw myself as or wanted to be an artist. It was always my passion and I went to art school straight from school.
“After my undergraduate art degree, I began exhibiting and then gained a scholarship for further postgraduate art studies overseas, which I undertook in Los Angeles. My work is formed and influenced by my experiences; the things I have seen and places I have been.”
How would you describe your style?
“For the last 14 years, I have been working exclusively with coloured pencil on paper. The works are highly detailed and are very slow to produce. I present the image as photorealistic, but remove it from its context and leave it floating on the empty page, the negative space of the page becoming an important part of the work. Much of my work is concerned with the every day, memory, obsolescence and the passing of time.”
What was the inspiration behind your series Dirty Diesel & Dusty Deeds?
“The works in Dirty Diesel & Dusty Deeds come from having spent time in Broken Hill and Mildura. This follows on from previous work that came out of the deserts of North America. I was interested in the emptiness of these vast landscapes and the objects found within them. It was a natural progression to follow this journey closer to home.
“I did several road trips from Melbourne to Mildura and on to Broken Hill. I took photographs along the way and even photographed the landscape of Broken Hill and particularly the open cut mines from the air in a light plane. The large voids left in the ground from the mines are like scars in the earth and are a reminder of how we take from the earth.
“Broken Hill and Mildura are connected by 300km of undivided highway; a barren road that is littered with road kill. I was interested in the animal carcasses and how they related to my other images of stripped out car bodies and mechanical deitrus.
“I was also interested in small towns where the signs of decay become like the imaginings of an impending post-apocalyptic landscape.”
Please take us through the creative process involved in making the series.
“My drawings all come from photographs that I have taken on my travels, as a snapshot on a camera or my phone. In the studio, I work with the photo directly in front of me on the computer screen as I draw.
“Whilst the initial photograph comes from a passing moment the drawing process is very slow and meditative. The process becomes a way of exploring the fleeting moment in great detail. It is a very laborious process of layering and a thorough investigation of the image.”
What response do you hope to get from viewers?
“I hope that my drawings draw attention to elements of the every day and that they prompt the viewer to consider and wonder about their own place in the world.”
What are you working on next?
“I would like to explore the Australian landscape both rural and urban further.”