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Stolen Flowers, 2023 oil on Belgian linen 200 x 200 cm, 203 x 203 cm (framed)

Silver River, Silver Sky, 2023 oil on belgian linen 183 x 183 cm, 186, 186 cm (framed)

High Plains, Wildflowers, 2023 oil on Belgian linen 183 x 183 cm, 186 x 186 cm (framed)

Blue Moon, 2023 oil on Belgian linen 170 x 170 cm, 173 x 173 cm (framed)

Sunset, 2023 oil on Belgian linen 170 x 170 cm, 173 x 173 cm (framed)

The Wetlands, 2023 oil on Belgian linen 170 x 170 cm, 173 x 173 cm (framed)

Wattle, 2023 oil on Belgian linen 170 x 170 cm, 173 x 173 cm (framed)

Water Water Everywhere, 2023 oil on Belgian linen 170 x 170 cm, 173 x 173 cm (framed)

Ghost Gums, 2023 oil on board 90 x 90 cm, 92.5 x 92.5 cm (framed)

Moonlights, 2023 oil on board 90 x 90 cm, 92.5 x 92.5 cm (framed)

Reflected Sky, 2023 oil on board 90 x 90 cm, 92.5 x 92.5 cm (framed)

An Early Spring, 2023 oil on board 90 x 90 cm, 92.5 x 92.5 cm (framed)

And Wake Me with the Morning Light, 2023 oil on board 90 x 90 cm, 92.5 x 92.5 cm (framed)

Last Days of Winter, 2023 oil on board 90 x 90 cm, 92.5 x 92.5 cm (framed)

River Flow at its Brink, 2023 oil on board 90 x 90 cm, 92.5 x 92.5 cm (framed)

Stolen Flowers

Arthouse Gallery

30 November - 16 December 2024

For Jo Davenport, abstraction is an instrument of the heart. Paint expresses feeling in ways that words cannot; the universal language of line, colour, gesture. Responding intuitively to felt experiences of the natural landscape – particularly the Murray River region where the artist resides – Davenport creates charged spaces rippling with the elusive energy of raw emotion. The joy, and the despair, of bearing witness to the land in all its fragility and fortitude. A warm gratitude for nature’s bounty, and deep sorrow for its loss.


Davenport’s series ‘Stolen Flowers’ explores the importance of living sustainably, sounding a symbolic call to give back what we have taken (and continue to take) from the land. These contemplations began with the blossoming of a flowering quince near Davenport’s studio, its beauty enticing the artist and other locals to take cuttings. The clipping of the quince was, for Jo, emblematic of humanity’s predilection to plunder the environment, in the form of deforestation, mining, poor farming practices, urban sprawl and so on. Then she thought about the humble gravity of wildflowers – the mutualistic relationship between flowers, bees, and all life on earth. Wildflowers as a trope for life, and a seed for the sublime. Accumulated veils of paint in scintillating hues celebrate their beauty in Davenport’s paintings, not in a sentimental sense but in a way that speaks softly of their criticality. Spring wattle bursts into the foreground like golden fireworks in one work, while in another, vigorous wildflowers are patched throughout landscape like a living tapestry. The artist’s conceptual nod to the ecological realities of the Anthropocene can be heard only very quietly here, in the way she captures the landscape’s glory like a fading memory, a flickering flame.


This is the first body of work created in Davenport’s new studio nestled in the bushland of Splitters Creek, a natural setting that has taken her process to new heights. “It is so much easier to paint in the bush” she reflects, commenting on the sensorial richness of being engulfed by nature – the melodies of the birds carried on the wind, the sweet aromas of wildflowers, the sublimity of moonlight cascading down a hill in diamond luminescence, the mesmeric movements of kangaroos and grazing deer. The felt experience. “I don’t want to try to recreate a landscape in a realistic topographical way, but rather let the painting take form from the process and action of painting”, the artist tells us. “In this way I hope to capture the sensed experience, the stirs of being in the landscape.”


Though Davenport engages with the landscape, her works are meditations on the process – and profundity – of painting: “My work is about painting. The landscape, and the environment, is the hook that I hang it on”. Her process is slow and intuitive, each meandering mark informing the next like a seedling that slowly blooms onto the canvas, cell by cell. Fields of translucent oil thinly applied and poured create a sense of temporal layering as the painting starts to reveal itself. This layering, coupled with processes of stripping back and erasure, sees Davenport searching for forms as she goes. Visible residues of earlier painting, a process called pentimento, visualises the landscape as a place of both presence and absence, revelation, and concealment. As the artist begins to recognise forms and feelings in her intuitive layering, she pulls them into more conscious compositions – a blazing sunset swallowing the horizon in an amber embrace, or the landscape luminous under a blue moon. This entirely intuitive approach summons the ‘spirit’ of a place, bringing together the joy of the mark with a celebration of the land.


Davenport’s organic abstraction represents a severance from oneself that mimics the awe and dissolution felt within natural landscapes. The artist speaks of feeling at one with the land – not as an external observer recording it, but intrinsically part of a broader living continuum. In her gentle layering of mark and memory these paintings are at once deeply personal and resoundingly universal.


Elli Walsh

Principal Writer, Artist Profile

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