In big bustling cities, gardens are special. The stark contrast of how we feel when we step from the shadows of tall buildings into one of these vibrant, growing places can be like a weight lifting off our shoulders.

The garden – whether it is in a glass jar or sprawled over city blocks – is a testament to our deep cultural connection with nature. Within a city, gardens are places of escape, play and relaxation. However the idea of the manicured garden is a relationship that is riddled with desires, expectations and anxieties. In Illuminated McKay is able to tease out these underlying tensions, and give us a new way of thinking about these little pockets of paradise that sit within our busy streets.

Illuminated is a series of oil paintings that offer partial views of Brisbane’s inner city gardens including the Brisbane botanic gardens and Southbank parklands. The landscapes have been depicted at dusk when the natural light is fading and the streetlights have come on. Our initial sense of familiarity that comes from recognising the locations is disrupted by the hyperreal painting style. Through the use of unnatural lighting and colours, dark voids and emotive brushwork in the compositions, McKay is able to blur the perceived boundaries that divide the interior self from the outside world. Without this boundary the garden spaces take on a dreamlike quality that is imbued with memories, emotions and subconscious desires.

McKay’s works offer windows into internal landscapes, taking us from the familiar and into the unknown of our own imaginations.

Eileen Abood and Kate McKay, 2016


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