Bethell Gallery – Newnorthern Art Hotel 359 Barker St Castlemaine

Current Exhibition: Trees - Nicholas Dattner

Duration: September 21 - October 14

Forests are my cathedrals. For days at a time, I will loose myself in them. Doing so I become aware of the strangest sensation – that of being watched. It is almost as if trees must first give you permission to take their picture.

At age five, I fell in love with gum trees after collecting off-cuts from a nearby house. I was enchanted by the oily perfumed smell and golden sticky sap. Aged ten I fell in love with the magic of cameras.

As a furniture designer and photographer, I came to see a wonderful connection between developing wood by sanding and polishing and developing film with chemistry and light. Both result in an extraordinary transition – a before and after that continues to take my breath away.

I am fascinated by how mass produced images were created before photography –  lithographs, etchings, wood cuts. With this in mind, I developed a technique that uses an inkjet printer for what it really is – a drawing machine.

Using a large screen and electronic brush, I redraw the original digital image, painting in light and detail, sometimes at the scale of pixels. I often have in mind the work of Eugene von Guerard, a Viennese painter who’s iconic Australian landscapes made much use of light and shadow to create and almost 3D effect.

With the exception of one image, they were all taken in the Strathbogie Ranges in north east Victoria or in the ash forests of Warburton and beyond.

Nicholas Dattner. September 2018