In 1967, Howard Taylor moved from Perth to the small rural community of Northcliffe in Western Australia. Profoundly influenced by his new surroundings, Taylor produced a body of large wooden sculptures that reflect his observations of the tall karri and jarrah forests and the patterns of growth and decay around his new home.
Columns 1970 is a major work from Taylor’s early years in Northcliffe. It was exhibited in his 1970 solo exhibition at Skinner Galleries in Perth, his first show devoted entirely to sculpture. Columns highlights Taylor’s sophisticated approach to abstraction. The organic texture and rich red of the jarrah is accentuated and framed by the slender, crisply painted white panels. These white forms fan into space, abstracting the jarrah log and inviting the viewer to move around the column. The scale and shape of Columns provokes Taylor’s ongoing interest in finding ways to involve the viewer in his contemplative experiences of nature.
Howard Taylor is one of the most highly regarded Australian artists of the late twentieth century. His works possess an intellectual and spiritual force, a quality that enables works such as Columns to transcend their era of production. Taylor lived and worked in Northcliffe until his death in 2001.
Columns is currently on display in the National Gallery’s Orde Poynton Gallery as part of the exhibition Out of the West: art of Western Australia.
Assistant Curator, Australian Painting and Sculpture
in artonview, issue 67, spring 2011