Fern Tree Gully Waterfall, Australian Alps
Fern Tree gully waterfall was completed in Ballarat, Australia. It formed part of a Sydney exhibition at the Bloomfield gallery. It originated as a felt pen drawing dated executed in Raglan in the state of Victoria. The drawing shows the falling waters, and Moss' serendipity in capturing their mass and the ever changing patterns and shapes which they assume. In watercolours done previously in Agadir in Morocco the artist had depicted the movement of the waves in a more severely abstract form reducing them to coloured patterns; here the waterfall is treated in a more calligraphic manner.
In the drawing's transition to canvas a Belgian linen was primed in a white chalk darkened by the addition of acrylic burnt umber. The unevenly woven support was allowed to retain its roughness by the application of the colours as washes which tend to sink into the surface. Part of the painting's undercoat was laid over with an application of fight blue wash, reinforced in the background sky, giving a somewhat mauve appearance to the lower right underpainting. A number of alterations which the work underwent during the course of construction, including a timber shed in the lower right-hand section, can be seen under radiographic examination. The painting forms part of a series with the another oeuvre the "Wannon falls" *also of a relatively large format painted on a dark priming. The large Wannon falls was executed to a greater extent in oils to exploit the features inherent in glazes and transparent colours. However, both the paintings began as naturalistic sketches which Moss then modified.
In the Ferntree gully waterfall this is most clearly seen in the use of primary colours; the dramatic cadmium reds, touches of cobalt to silhouette the waterfall, and mauves and primary greens, take the work one remove from naturalism. The orange segment in the upper part of the canvas acts as a background foil to the four white brushstrokes indicating the emergence of a stream of water. The lightly sketched-in dead tree trunk on the left is echoed in the luxuriant mass of green cabbage ferns which emerge from a gap in the rockface, offering relief to the eye from the intense reds and blues which dominate the canvas. The white calligraphic brushstrokes of the failing waters in the centre of the rock formation continue as rivulets and streams breaking over the scarlet rocks to the left and dribbling and escaping as vapours in the pools in the lower right giving rise to what in Ireland would be known as a busy canvas.
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