Anne Marie Graham Glasshouse Mountains and Beyond

In an experience similar to Captain Cook and the early explorers, I first saw the Glasshouse Mountains from the sea whilst gently idling up the Queensland coast as a passenger on a container ship. Although the contemporary reality of the journey did not quite live up to my romanticised tramp-steamer romantic dreams, my initial encounter with these haunting volcanic plugs definitely did. I use the word ‘haunting’ for there is definitely something eerie, if not paranormal, about these mountains, which hover individually like Victoria’s Hanging Rock o’er undulating tropic plains. From the sea, they arise bluely from the coast, a striking indication that the border into Queensland has absolutely been crossed and that further mysteries lie ahead. This is, after all, the spiritual home of The Big Pineapple…

European artists have also been drawn to the Glasshouse Mountains ever since those first encounters and Anne Marie Graham, an inveterate traveller herself, has been visiting the region since 1973. When viewing the dead volcanos from land, there is a curious and contradictory intimacy to these monolithic forms caused, in part, by the rich tapestry of cultivation which carpets their loins. Indeed, the serried ranks of pineapple farms and banana plantations mimic the French vineyards and Italian olive groves which Anne has painted on previous occasions, locations gently humanised over centuries. This fusion is particularly evident in Pineapple Farm and Mixed Farm where the mounts rear up like benign sentinels overlooking the industry below.

The Glasshouse Mountain region is a landscape perfectly suited to Anne Marie Graham’s technique, honed over seventy years of continued practice, and which has now entered a remarkable phase of certainty since the turn of the new millennium. Her colour and insight has become, if anything, more audacious seen, for example, in the startling blue and purple palette of Aerial View, a brooding, cloud-swathed vision of the otherwise sunny locale. Glasshouse Mountains and Beyond is a glorious suite of paintings which celebrates Anne Marie Graham’s joi de vivre, and where her perpetual fascination with nature and its myriad forms is manifestly evident.

Andrew Gaynor
Independent curator and arts writer
July 2007