31. TIM STORRIER
Edmund Capon remarks upon the inexplicably Australian sense which Tim Storrier’s paintings evoke, the strong sense of place which is contained within the vocabulary of his paintings, ‘they could not, I believe, have come from any country other than Australia’.1 The sense of space, low horizons and vast skies: few artists convey the sense of experience more poignantly than Storrier.
The artist’s burning object paintings had their genesis in the Australian outback where the artist often travelled to study the light and colour of the landscape. It was a simple idea that struck Storrier one evening whilst on an outback trip which was to shape the direction of his work for the next decade.
One evening in 1981, Storrier stuck a couple of steel posts into some arid, clayish earth and strung a rope between them. Then he went to the back of his ute, found a tin of lacquer, coated the rope and set it alight. He says he can’t remember why he decided to do it and has no idea of where the concept came from. But the photograph documenting the on-site project, Night Passage, shows a motif which dominates some of his finest work to date: a blazing line of fire moving between two invisible points set against an opalescent sky.2
The Waterline (Log + Stars) 1999 is an example of the beautifully composed and executed pictures which Storrier has become so well known for. The scale of his canvases coupled with the vividly glowing embers create a visually spectacular picture that embodies his technical skills and affinity with the unique Australian landscape.
’Storrier is a distinguished representative of le juste milieu — the kind of artist who occupies the middle ground between tradition and innovation, with ambience as the ultimate goal.’3 John McDonald’s observation of Tim Storrier’s position within the Australian art world demonstrates how the artist has successfully travelled along the ‘middle course’, flourishing whilst straying further from the explicitly conceptual and political concerns of his contemporaries. Storrier has always stated his suspicions of contemporary art writers and critics and been open about his socially and culturally conservative standing. ‘I’m not concerned about the debate about what a painting is. I know what a painting is - I’m not interested in redefining what art objects are - I’m not interested in that at all.’4
Storrier’s flamboyant character, the urban dandy/gallant explorer/country squire, has been calculated by the artist to irritate the literal minded and po-faced that exist on the periphery of his career. This inclination is born out of the artist’s position as something of an artistic outsider. Originally a figurative painter, Storrier’s career has flourished in almost direct opposition to the predominant art movements of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It is the artist’s strength of conviction which has seen his artistic career triumph and flourish — ‘he is one of the most secretive and enigmatic artists working in Australia today, a man of unpredictable intentions and directions, and one of the most original’.5
- Capon, E., cited in Lumby, C., Tim Storrier: The Art of the Outsider, Craftsman House, Sydney, 2000, p.8
- McDonald, J., The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 January 1986
- Lumby, C. and Crawford, A., ‘Lightweight or Heavyweight?’ Tim Storrier’s Challenge, Tension, 24, 1990, p. 17
- Tim Storrier cited in Lumby, C., Tim Storrier: The Art of the Outsider, Craftsman House, Sydney, 2000, p.45
- Olsen, J., Lumby, C., Tim Storrier: The Art of the Outsider, Craftsman House, Sydney, 2000, p.9
Caroline Jones MArtAdmin.