Camellia Morris Holds First Solo Exhibition 'Life Aquatic'

It was great seeing so many friends and family at my first solo visual art exhibition, Life Aquatic held in my gallery at 2 Danks Street in Waterloo.

Life Aquatic captures the movement and colour of life on Sydney’s eastern beaches; celebrating the Australian love of sun, surf and sand. It was very satisfying to view artwork I've been painting over the past few years finally hanging and being enjoyed by family and friends over the two launches I held.

Life Aquatic will show at Camellia Morris Gallery until April 2015.

About Life Aquatic

I spent the first seven years of my life in Singapore, where many Singaporeans escape the heat and humidity by staying indoors in their climate-controlled homes, or by hopping from one air-conditioned shopping centre to another. It is also noteworthy that across Southeast Asia, fair skin is highly prized as a mark of beauty and even social status and aristocracy.

I remember my mother carrying a parasol everywhere she went, and lamented for days in front of the mirror if she ever found a sun-inflicted freckle on her face. Not surprisingly, coming to Australia and living in the beachside suburbs of Sydney presented a major cultural shift for a young newcomer like me. I remember seeing throngs of people, both young and old, of all shapes and sizes, spend a large part of the day at the beach as if it was their own living room; revelling in the scorching heat instead of hiding from it. My teenage friends would bathe themselves in Reef Oil and fry their tender bodies under the hot sun in a hazardous attempt to achieve the elusive golden tan.

Life Aquatic seeks to capture these iconic images of Australian beach culture; images that were particularly striking to me while growing up in Sydney. It evokes memories of endless summer days at the beach, children frolicking in the shallows, the bold and brave taking on the rising swell.

Life Aquatic is not just a series of seascapes. It is also portraiture. I was largely inspired by Max Dupain’s photographs, in particular Dupain’s Sunbaker. The iconic photograph has been described as “quintessentially Australian”, a “sort of icon of the Australian way if life”. The image captures Australian physicality, and is symbolic of “health, vitality and a love of the outdoors”.

Life Aquatic pays particular attention to the human figure in the context of the natural elements. And I find with each painting, nothing frames or enfolds the warmth of the human figure more beautifully than the coolness of water. The interplay of water and light also features prominently in these works.

I use acrylic paints and mediums to achieve layers of colour to convey glimpses of refracted light on the ocean floor as well as reflected light on the surface of the water. Some of the works aim to capture the blinding glare of the sun’s reflection off the water’s surface, where the figures in the painting are almost silhouetted against the speckled light.

Let me invite you to immerse yourself in this iconic landscape of the great Australian summer by the sea – the Life Aquatic.