Thanks for the Book…

In my office on the shelf is a book titled A Letter from Tasmania by Jonathan Bowden. He sent it to me after we met at Cradle Mountain to discuss him exhibiting.  It included a handwritten note with the sentiment…’I am delighted at the prospect of showing at your gallery.’

Jonathan Bowden, Shadow on a Stone, 2010, pastel and tempera on gesso panel


In the rare moments between meeting deadlines I have reached for this book that is written in the form of a letter. It documents the life of the artist but also the ideas and his environment.  Today is my final day as the Curator for the Wilderness Gallery and as the to-do list dissolves, I am drawn to the reading and writing of this wonderful book. It has a pace that slows the breath and clears the mind. It is a reminder of the importance of time, space and love that is required to spark the creative force.

The foreword is by fellow artist, Tony Smibert. They met ‘on a warm Tasmanian summer day’ more than 20 years ago and became firm friends. His description is of an artist who is as passionate about the Tasmanian environment as he is about impressionism and the masters who came before him.

Jonathan Bowden, Spring Floods, 2004, pastel and tempura on gesso panel


‘To this day, if you ask Jonathan to explain how Monet or Sisley might have tackled a subject he can immediately demonstrate their approach, flicking colour down to build up the characteristics of one or the other. This is not a party trick, but the sure-fire identification of a well studied researcher and, to my mind, gives a key to understanding his own methods’, Tony Smibert (Sept 2007).

It is the years of practice, study and immersion in the Tasmanian landscape that will no doubt produce a wonderful exhibition in the Wilderness Gallery. It’s a rare thing to experience work of this caliber and size. In this body of work Jonathan references his time spent around Cradle Mountain. At a time when contemporary art is king and art experiences can be so fast paced, this will be a moment for visitors to pause and reflect on the many other artists across the world who made impressionism so evocative and emotive.

And as I put up my feet and hand over the keys to the incoming Exhibition Officer, Jessie Pangas, I look forward to reading all the book and taking a breather…at least for a few hours.

Kylie Eastley
Wilderness Gallery Curator