For our second work to be presented in the evolving online exhibition On Stillness with Newcastle Art Gallery, we have chosen NAS alumna Fiona Lowry’s ‘Gliding over all’. Lowry is known for her sensual and dreamy renderings of people and place, and for her contemporary approach to life-sized figure painting.
The title of Lowry’s work is taken from Walt Whitman’s poem Gliding O’er All, from Leaves of Grass (1855). A naked figure is either floating or falling in water or space. Lowry references the Pre-Raphaelite figure of Ophelia but instead of placing her horizontally, she subverts Ophelia’s sense of repose by placing her on a vertical axis, thus creating a sense of an awakening. We are also reminded of Christ on the cross – with arms held up and with a body hanging stiff and straight with closed eyes. This has a disquieting effect – the painting is full of vulnerability, suspense, gothic haze and romance.
‘Gliding o’er all, through all, through Nature, Time, and Space’. The figure is perfectly still, she rests in silence, suspended in a brief moment of time.
Image: Fiona Lowry, Gliding over all, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 183 x 123 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Alex Orellana, 2018 © the artist