The Blue Mountains is a rugged and expansive region bordering on metropolitan Sydney. It’s a place where weekenders and locals seek out cultural experiences, as well as a spot for sight-seeing, rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking; there is the understanding that, here, one can leave the weight of the surrounding city and the suburbs behind to be arrested by the natural world.

‘Landmarks’, a new exhibition hosted by the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, is in dialogue with the emotive and affective potential of the land. The show includes works by some of the most highly regarded conceptual artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. While nature is the subject it is not always directly depicted. Featuring Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Long, Simryn Gill, Imants Tillers, Andreas Gursky and Perejaume among others, this group show presents pieces negotiating the feelings that the environment generates. Utilising a range of mediums, from sculpture and installation to photography, the themes are presented by the artists from vastly different angles. While each has a diverse practice, where they intersect is in the way they communicate our world as sprawling and abstract.
Alongside seminal conceptual artworks ‘Landmarks’ also presents Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, who live in the mountains. Renown for their playful, yet acid wit, they often collect found consumer materials and re-assemble them in the gallery as a structure looming over the viewer. The pair will build a large-scale work referencing a ‘lagerphone’ – a folk percussion instrument that often takes the form of either beer bottle tops or shells fixed to a stick. It is a visual representation of human engagement with the land from Indigenous history to early European settlement. Healy and Cordeiro see place from a uniquely Australian perspective, but also, through a personal lens.

This exhibition is produced through collaboration between the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery and Art Gallery of New South Wales, and is curated by Anthony Bond, former director, curatorial and head of international art AGNSW. Many of the conceptual works have come to the gallery through the John Kaldor Family Collection donation, 2011. Transporting the pieces from the centre of Sydney out to regional galleries will open these influential works to new audiences and to new landscapes. Following its showing here ‘Landmarks’ will tour the Tamworth Regional Gallery and Murray Art Museum Albury.
‘Landmarks’ demonstrates an evolving articulation of the feeling of nature. In displaying unusual approaches to an immersive experience, the show explores how the perception and representation of the environment has, and continues, to shift. It conveys sensitivity about the open world, while, crucially, being surrounded by that very thing.
Luke Letourneau is the Kudos Gallery Coordinator, Sydney.