Linda Gallus has a fine arts degree and has exhibited at Shepparton Regional Art gallery, and in several group exhibitions, including at Benalla Regional Gallery, Libby Edwards Gallery in Toorak and the Convent Gallery in Daylesford.
This series of paintings is comprised of portraits of decaying, collapsing old farm buildings on a property on the Bellarine Peninsula. They are all situated on the same farm and are in various stages of degeneration. Many of the buildings have been subjected to recent weather conditions and have collapsed even further.
I have been very fortunate to have had access to the property and to see photos of these buildings taken many decades ago. It is fascinating to see them as they once were, often painted white, in order to look clean and fresh and to protect the timber from insects and the elements. The buildings appear to be from another era where the structures were carefully hand crafted with a deep sense of pride and purpose. Today the remnant dried and weathered white paint on the buildings is what fascinates me. I really enjoy looking at the walls of peeling paint, the old silvered timbers, the rusty red stripes on white painted corrugated iron and the wonderful scattering of farming paraphernalia.
Recently I saw an exhibition in Trondheim, Norway, and felt an instant connection to this artist’s way of thinking. I have been inspired by this Norwegian artist, Rune Werner Molnes, who photographs old abandoned houses and buildings.
Rune uses the word ‘entropy’ to describe the way he feels about the collapse and decay of the old buildings. Its roots are found in the Greek word ‘entropia’ which means ‘a turning toward’ or ‘transformation’. The word describes the change from formed to free and from ordered to disordered. It also describes the demise of the buildings in his series of photographs and similarly in my series of paintings, where the buildings are left to themselves and the forces of nature.
These buildings, shelters and constructions share a common cultural heritage. At some stage this farm, and others like it, probably supported a family who lived on the property. It was a much larger property then and over the years the land has been divided up and sectioned off making it less viable. The original infrastructure was built for a purpose. The magnificent timber shearing shed served its purpose well but is sadly now exposed to the elements as the wind and rain blow through the holes in the walls and roof.
In these paintings I attempt to convey the soul of the buildings and want to celebrate the memory of The White Farm that was once the pride and joy of the people who constructed, used and inhabited it.
I also find that each building has its own personality – some stir up melancholy, others are charming in their simplicity. They are often inspirational and delightful despite the fact that they are well on their way back to nature. And they all have a very strong graphic appeal. My Father’s influence on me has always been evident. He is a retired Architect and as an only child I spent a lot of time with him looking at buildings both old and new and watching him draw his intricate structural designs.
I am fascinated by the structures themselves and have spent a lot of time at the farm studying the way the buildings have been put together. And even more fascinating is the way they tumble down; the order in which this happens. Each piece is lying just below or beside the place where it once stood, sometimes creating a flat skeletal pattern on the ground. These beautiful old timbers started life as a trees, possibly from magnificent ancient forests. Hopefully this timber will be reclaimed and used to make other shelters or furniture etc, and so the cycle of reuse will continue.
I imagine that in just a few decades many of these buildings will be gone forever – recycled, completely flattened, bulldozed, burnt or left to rot in the ground. It is a privilege to be able to record them at this stage and to photograph them as they decay and collapse. I am pleased to know that my paintings will always be there to capture the ‘entropy’ of their existence through time.
To quote Rune Werner Molnes, ‘I am humbled by nature and Mother Earth as she takes back the building blocks which were once borrowed from her’.