About

Robyn Litchfield’s paintings are representations of sublime encounters with places; pristine and untouched. Drawing from archival material and personal documents relating to the early exploration and colonisation of New Zealand Litchfield aims to reimagine and examine the experience of forays into a hitherto unknown space. She is interested in the idea of wilderness and the unknown as a terrain of the mind and as a place that induces reflexivity. 

Most of her sources are photographs; predominantly personal archival images of early New Zealand and more recently contemporary photographs of primeval landscape predominantly taken by herself. She applies transparent paint in expressive brushstrokes and works back into it using various implements and processes such as scraping, layering and erasure to reveal the luminous ground below. The paint mimics the emulsion on the glass plates of early photographs whose images were revealed by light shining through them. She thinks of the ground like a screen where images are projected and perceived. 

Stencil use was developed as a means to subvert other images, reproduce forms and create a visual vibration. By cropping and editing early postcard images of forest the aim is to reveal the ‘punctum’ of the image. The dark red forms placed within these paintings derive from remnants of stencils developed for these earlier works. For Litchfield they are symbols of loss; of past life, of primeval forest, the biodiversity that it supported and represent a lament for this loss. Their intrusion into the picture plane is a metaphor for a kind of otherness similar to that felt by immigrants today.