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Dr Anthony White

A Critical Review of Denis Brockie's Landscape Paintings

When we look at the beach we bring with us interests, memories and habits that influence what we see. For visitors, the coast is a pleasant vacation spot; for locals it is the backdrop to daily life. For those who make their living from the sea, the foreshore is a place of work; to others it is a diverse ecosystem in need of protection. Many such ideas may come to mind while viewing Denis Brockie's extraordinary paintings of North Stradbroke Island.

However, rather than confirming our fixed ways of seeing the beach, Brockie puts us in the position of seeing it for the first time. Through an intimate knowledge of the natural environment, evident in the sensitive recording of the changing effects of tides and weather, Brockie strips away the layers of routine thinking that cloud our perception. With his vibrantly coloured paintings he creates a vision of "Straddie" that is fresh and invigorating as the sting of spray off a cresting wave...

Brockie asks us to put aside our preconceived ideas for a while and appreciate the beauty of the unique foreshore on its own terms. For a landscape painter there can be no greater achievement than this - to make us pause and think about the way we experience nature.

Dr. Anthony White
Lecturer, School of Art History
The University of Melbourne



Jumpinpin (Looking East) - 60 X 90cm                                                                 Landscape by Denis Brockie (2004)

Jumpinpin depicts the southern-most tip of the island, a favourite destination for day-trippers, nature-lovers and fishermen alike. But what do we see in this picture? Little more than a broad, open expanse of cloud-strewn sky. A vast horizontal plain of golden sand and ripples of water running towards the shore. Instead of telling us what to see, Brockie's patient and skilful rendition of natural detail requires us to open our eyes - to the infinite variety of shifting clouds, to the ever-changing shapes of waves and the myriad of sights and sounds of Jumpinpin at a particular time of day.

As with all of the artist's work, this picture is an invitation to view the familiar in a new and different light.

Dr. Anthony White
Lecturer, School of Art History
The University of Melbourne



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