In this latest exhibition, Burn Off, Simon Edwards returns to the expanse of the Canterbury plains. He looks down and across a heavily cultivated landscape - in this case, one which is literally ‘under fire’.
Flames scour the surface of Edwards’ painted lands and, in many works, smoke billows up and across the canvas, obscuring sky and cloud. In a work such as Scorched Plain, Edwards uses the strong contrast between darkened, burnt foreground and incandescent fire-wall to transmit the intensity and immediacy of the blaze to the viewer. The twilit sky is captured with luminous, soft washes of colour; clouds and smoke become almost indistinguishable as they fade into one another. The land itself is worked in a palette of jewel-like tones that suggest lush, rural productivity in a patchwork of paddocks.
Controlled fire is used as a tool to rejuvenate tired farmland and clear the ground ready for planting. In these works Edwards asks the viewer to consider not only the continuation of an age-old agricultural practice but also the impact of this human intervention. Environmental degradation, appropriate land use and the relationship between man and earth are all issues raised with these works of compelling, if unsettling, beauty.