Meredith Cooper grew up on the mid north coast of NSW. The beach and wilderness of the upper Macleay river valley exerted a strong influence in her early life, sparking a sense connection with, and veneration for, the Australian landscape. This proximity produced a desire to record these forms with pencil, conte and brush.
After studying at the National Art School and living in Sydney, Cooper moved to the Blue Mountains to establish her studio practice. Here she discovered a primeval, raw terrain, drenched by storm, scorched by fire and inscribed by the eroding forces of the wind and rain. Since, she has made it her artistic mission to capture both this landscape’s ancient endurance and daily self-renewal.
Her landscape work engages with the ways in which organic and geological forms are altered and transformed by time and powerful elemental forces. Cooper uses a chromatically rich palette combined with fluid, skilful mark making, to investigate the intricacy and tensile strength of the natural world.
The initial phase of her investigation focussed on dramatic rock formations. This period of Cooper’s art making recorded the grooves and wrinkles in ironstone, the honeycombed surface of sandstone, the shadowed craters, and the glittering stratifications found in plateaus, caves and cliff overhangs throughout the mountains area. Rendered in a dark toned palette, keyed to capture intricacies of detail, the results of this phase of her work hinted at the immensities of time and the relentless sculpting by the elements required to bring such features into being.
Cooper’s more recent works concern themselves with the ongoing themes of the waterways, canyons and cool temperate rainforest gullies. These works employ a vivid, iridescent palette to explore the structure and nuances of atmosphere and light. A blizzard of darting, expressive brushstrokes or conte marks immerses the viewer in a dreamlike landscape of primeval beauty; lush coachwoods, dripping fern-filled gorges, blackwattles and eucalypts surge upward to meet the sky. Tree tops disappear, seeming to melt in a cascade of light. The horizon is often impossible to discern, obscured by a pulsating lattice of leaves.
The resulting transcendent landscapes resonate with that ‘sense sublime of something more deeply interfused’. They beckon us to fall silent and look ‘deep into the life of things’.
Caleb Williams 2012