Enlarge 1 / 2
  1. 41756_b.jpg 1/2
  2. 41756.jpg 2/2

Raymond ARNOLD

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia born 1950


born 1947

printer's assistant

Imaginary landscape - eighteen months in Tasmania. 1984 Description: a singular work comprising eight etchingss

Collection Title: Imaginary landscapes. Hobart: The artist, 1984.
Place made: Chameleon, Blundstone Building, 46 Campbell Street, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper etching, aquatint, printed in black ink, each from one plate Support: 8 sheets of wove Arches BFK Rives 300 gsm paper
Edition State: published state
Impression: 4/5
Edition: edition of 5

Dimensions: plate-mark 106.0 h x 50.0 w cm sheet 117.0 h x 50.0 w cm framed (overall) 120.0 h x 437.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1986
Accession No: NGA 86.533.A-H
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from the artist, Hobart, February 1986.

Imaginary landscape – eighteen months in Tasmania has as its inspiration the panoramic view from the final ridge on the walk to the summit of Frenchmans Cap. The rock is quartz and the abrupt and swirling patterns of bright white crystal are frozen liquid in appearance: a function of volcanos and glaciers. Wind and rain combined to carve and scour the stone gullies that drop down into the Franklin river, which flows around the base of the Frenchman Range. The Franklin was to become the central element in the well-known development/conservation clash in 1982 and it was against this background of social and political discord that I made Imaginary landscape.

It took 18 months of considerable plotting to bring the image together. I had moved to Tasmania in 1983, to bring my work closer to important conservation issues and Imaginary landscape marked the beginning of another phase of my life. The print’s title refers in one sense to this new beginning and I approached it in a diaristic manner, working at the kitchen table on the grounded zinc plates. Each day I would map out a small area and ‘draw’ the rocky forms into the hard/soft ground surface. What began as a sweep of gritty geological fragments built up over time into eight segments of liquid atmosphere – rock/cloud metamorphosis.

A quote describing the work of the 17th-century Dutch artist Hercules Seghers refers to his ‘bleak hallucinatory vistas of great power, in which the thick lines forming the rocky structures actually seem to be eroding before our eyes’. The apocalyptical nature of the Seghers print has an equivalent for me in the dissolving geometry of Imaginary landscape. The hardground/softground process metaphor also reinforces the idea of the vulnerability of the landscape in the face of technological change

Raymond Arnold, 19921

1Raymond Arnold, ‘Notes to Imaginary landscape’ sent to Roger Butler, National Gallery of Australia, 20 July 1992.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002