The James Gleeson oral history collection

James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists

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Dundoo Hills 1977
Drawing, collage, oil, brush and ink, crayon, watercolour, pencil, chalk, collage of cut paper and photograph
image 54.0 h x 77.6 w cm
sheet 56.8 h x 78.2 w cm
Purchased 1979
more detail

Elwyn Lynn

24 July and 27 September 1979

Elwyn Lynn: In the Dundoo Hills we’ve got the drip running down from the top surrounding the–it’s my cousin’s place in the country, out of Junee, a little place called Illabo. As a matter of fact, their son who looks after the farm just got killed a couple of weeks ago in a car crash on the lonely roads. Usual thing, more people killed there.

James Gleeson: We were talking about your nephew, was it, who was killed?

Elwyn Lynn: Yes.

James Gleeson: He looked after this—

Elwyn Lynn: Yes, he was killed. He’s a third cousin. He looked after this place, and that’s a photograph out there at Dundoo Hills.

James Gleeson: I see.

Elwyn Lynn: My sister Rose, who was on the phone this morning, as a matter of fact, to see how things were, was very pleased to find out that the name of the farm where she lived for so long had entered the national collection. Very tickled. Oh, yes.

James Gleeson: Good, good.

Elwyn Lynn: Oh, yes. It’s funny, the reverberations of these things that happen. Well, what have I got here? I’ve got a piece of the Declaration of Independence of America, I think. A facsimile thing rolled up in the middle, and a photograph of the grain shed and the storage shed at Dundoo Hills. All stained around with, oh, I think it’s watercolour.

James Gleeson: Yes.

Elwyn Lynn: Then a facsimile–it’s not a facsimile, it’s a photograph–of an old document that interested me. Then I’ve got these little drawings in the background with a little joke in one where you see the tree through the side door on the hill that’s out of kilter.

James Gleeson: Oh yes. Yes.

Elwyn Lynn: They’re kind of Nolan-esque things.

James Gleeson: Yes.

Elwyn Lynn: I just don’t know. I think it’s about testaments and wills and deeds and being in some way or other intrigued by the little town where I was brought up where I thought there were no artistic stimuli whatsoever. Maybe I’m not saying that any more. I took the photograph, by the way, that’s my own photograph.

James Gleeson: I see.

Elwyn Lynn: I think that’s—I’m not too certain. Of course, all the placements and all the tensions and all that, these are very carefully you know—

James Gleeson: Calculated.

Elwyn Lynn: Calculated, yes. Where it opens up a little bit.

James Gleeson: Yes.

Elwyn Lynn: Let’s the air there and so on, you know, where this one tightens up. You know, these shapes there and there, you know, in various areas where’s there’s untouched, have got sort of what we used to call plastic rhymes, you know.

James Gleeson: Yes. Would that have evolved from a drawing?

Elwyn Lynn: Oh, I would have worked this out just briefly first of all in a drawing, yes. I’d have calculated it somewhat. There are still accidents, you know.

James Gleeson: Yes, yes.

ELWYN LYNN: The fact that this document is pasted over and let some of the other stains show through, that’s important. I think that there’s certain things that are hidden and then appear again. I think that’s important. I think also that I had a number of these photographs of old documents, but this one was all creased in squares and that goes with the squares at the top, you know. Then I creased the other one in different kind of creases, as it were.

James Gleeson: Yes.

Elwyn Lynn: I suppose there’s some reference to the landscape being a little creased as well and the trees, though they look a little child-like, nonetheless the little smudgy dots you still pick up in the document here and elsewhere and so on. The shadows of the tree you can’t see here on the shed are picked up, you know. Well, these are shadows of trees and these are shadows of the shadows of trees, as it were. I think there’s those sort of things.

James Gleeson: Linking.

Elwyn Lynn: Linking things, yes. A lot of this is very liberated at first, you know. You paint the big dark area then you put the photograph down. But then you start working. You have some of this material put out around you, then you start working pretty instinctively. As a matter of fact, once you get going, as it were, the best parts seem to me to come off instinctively, you know.


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