Draw on the Mountain, Day 4
October 2, 2013
In 1891, the painter Arthur Streeton travelled up to the Blue Mountains outside Sydney and painted “Fire’s on, Lapstone tunnel”. Lapstone is one of the small villages relatively close to the Cumberland Valley and the Nepean River before the altitude rises substantially to the Blue Mountains proper. He recorded the blasting of the rock to form the tunnel and his painting, apart from the dramatically thin rectangle of its format, is interesting in terms of its being split, literally down the middle, between the untouched natural environment (left half) and an environment savaged by humans (right half). His painting is about progress and development radically changing the natural environment and the theme resonates with us today in an age of climate change.
With the Lapstone painting in mind, I wanted to revert to the Built Environment after spending time depicting the natural environment. One of the biggest changes going on currently in the Blue Mountains is the widening of the Great Western Highway, the once-thin and tenuous road created exactly one hundred years ago across the mountains to the great plains to the west of New South Wales. The highway is affecting the properties on either side of the formerly thin road; the roadworks are slow and disruptive since its the main road west out of Sydney and Parramatta. I thought it too good an opportunity, especially during the centenary of the opening up by white colonialists of the Mountains, to not include the roadworks in my sketchbook.
The most interesting vantage points are the pedestrian walkways across the highway (and over the roadworks) at Woodford and Hazelbrook. The background vegetation viewed at Hazelbrook is far more prominent in my sketch than in reality; the trees seem to be fighting for their lives.