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By Elli Walsh, 2022

With an empathetic brush, Melanie McCollin-Walker captures places and perspectives that uncover our own finitude. The Barbados-born artist has always been drawn to the sincerity, and serenity, of wild landscapes. After relocating to Tasmania several years ago, she has been exploring the island’s rich primordiality – its rugged beauty, clarity of light and atmosphere. Through countless layers, her paintings replicate the transformative and transcendent tenor of natural landscapes, positing them as benevolent guides to inward reflection and self-discovery. McCollin-Walker’s new collection of paintings and charcoal drawings, 'As If Time Stood Still', charts a recent journey through one of the most isolated places in Australia – the Savage and Pieman Rivers on Tasmania's far North-West coast. She explored the river system by Kayak, a solitary journey surrounded by the temperate rainforest of the Tarkine region. It is here, in the temporal limbo of this ancient outdoor cathedral, that the artist found a greater grasp of time – not only how it helms her daily life, but how time is the motor and motivator of humanity. A paradoxical epiphany, indeed, in a place where time stood still, where days on the river unfurled in a hypnotic continuum. “In the stillness of time, I feel more centred and connected to everything around me…and it is then that I can truly start to see,” she reflects. The landscape eternal is captured by revolving, and evolving, visual interplays of the trees and the river. Our eyes amble into the metaphysical depths of the river, where undulating foliage and melancholy skies ripple across its reflective surface in abstract inversions of the land. As our gaze slides across this crystalline skin to the silent assembly of trees, and back again, we glimpse the infinitely large and the infinitely small. There is something there, in this place of fleeting and forever, something unshakeable and unutterable. Invisible horizons lure us deeper into the landscape, and by some strange magnetism we find ourselves ingested into a heart of darkness, and light. The perimeter of the canvas dissolves and we are one with the scene. And yet, a certain ontological distance underpins these works, an ineffable foreignness that points to the evolving chasm between modern man and the ancient land. In the tradition of Tonalism, misty waterways and shadowy forests hold tightly secrets of the natural world – secrets, which, our ears are not attuned to hear. Though the works are uninhabited by humans, the viewer is palpably present, drifting through these point-of-view vignettes in the seat of the artist. Each vista is sifted through McCollin-Walker’s eyes, and yet there is the sense that the land is watching us. Quietly, patiently. We are inescapably on view, diminutive against the sublime. Aisles of omniscient trees bend inwards while the sky opens up like a cleft in the forest, cascading silver light onto the water in reflective splendour. Every now and then the forest whispers and the water sighs, exhaling a long primordial breath flushed with the unseen forces upon which life itself is built. At times it feels as though the land is quivering, fearful for its future in an Anthropogenic age, but mostly it seems almighty, deific even, a prodigious presence too immense for us to truly take in. In some works, the viewpoint shifts upwards to reveal a serrated frontier between the gestural treetops and soft gradations of clouds. Though masterfully rendered in McCollin-Walker’s photorealistic style, these views appear abstract – cleaved into masses of form and tone competing – or courting – on the canvas. There is something sensorial about the scenes, somatic even, as the cashmere sky rubs up against the brisk, brambly foliage. A similar evocation is felt in McCollin-Walker’s monochromatic drawings, where the softness of the charcoal conjures the nostalgic contours of memory. These places speak to us from some distant past, plays of darkness and light teasing concealment and revelation. ​ Transcending spatial and temporal bounds, the works in this series are portals to worlds near and far. They feel at once embryonic and ancient, existing in a suspended state of eternal unfolding – as if time stood still. ​


selected solo exhibitions


2024     New Work,  Handmark Gallery, Tasmania

2022     As If Time Stood Still,  Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

2021     Take Me To The River, Handmark Gallery, Tasmania

2020     The Light Within, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2019     The River Lies Within, Handmark Gallery, Tasmania
2018     Adrift, Studio Gallery, Salamanca Arts Centre, Tasmania
2018     First Impressions, Salamanca Arts Centre, Tasmania

2017     The View From Here, Art Atrium, Sydney
2017     On The Edge, Australian High Commission, Singapore
2015     Inner Storm, Depot II Gallery, Sydney
2014     Dreamscapes, Salamanca Arts Centre,Tasmania
2012     Limited Edition, Australasian Arts Projects, Singapore
2011     Before the Beginning, Australasian Arts Projects, Singapore



selected group exhibitions


2024     Group Show, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

2022     Wanderlust, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

2020     Paperless, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

2019     Summer Salon, Handmark Gallery, Tasmania
2018     Celebrating Our Landscape, Handmark Gallery, Tasmania
2016     Summer Sojourn , Art Atrium, Sydney
2016     Cliftons Art Prize Finalist Exhibition, Cliftons Venue, Singapore
2015     Benetton Foundation, Venice Biennale, Italy
2014     Asia Contemporary Art Show, Hong Kong
2013     Loaded, Atrium Gallery, Australian High Commission, Singapore
2013     Cliftons Art Prize Finalist Exhibition, Cliftons Venue Singapore
2013     Grounded, Atrium Gallery, Australian High Commission, Singapore
2012     Just This Moment, Australasian Arts Projects, Singapore





2016    Finalist - Cliftons Art Prize, Singapore

2013    Finalist - Art Prizes Australia

2013    People’s Choice Winner - Cliftons Art Prize, Singapore 

2013    Finalist - Cliftons Art Prize, Singapore



selected residencies


2018    Salamanca Arts Centre, Tasmania 

2017    Bull Bay Artist Residency, Bruny Island, Tasmania

2014    Salamanca Arts Centre, Tasmania





2017     Bruce Gosper, Australian High Commissioner to Singapore, private collection
2016     Guacoland Project, Tanjong Pagar, Singapore
2016     Wild Honey, The Pavilion, Indonesia
2015     IQ Global Group, Sydney

2015     The Luciano Benetton Foundation, Italy
2014     Telunas Resorts, Indonesia
2014     Wild Honey, Mandarin Gallery, Singapore



artist talks


2017       On The Edge, in conversation with curator Anna Layard, Singapore
2013       Loaded, hosted by the Australian High Commissioner, Singapore



selected media


2021      The Art Show, ABC Radio National

2020       Life In Tasmania An Artistic Inspiration, ABC News

2020      ABC Arts

2019      WIN News, Hobart
2019      Tassie Lights Up Artist Inspiration, The Mercury
2018      TasWeekender, The Mercury
2015      Caribbean Echoes, Real Life Magazine
2014      Island Home Sparks Inspiration, The Mercury
2014      Nomadic Wonders, The Finder

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