David LeMay

Big Skys/Upturned Earth

I have been painting the landscapes around Acland for the last six years. The paintings are always painted on site over two or three trips, chasing the light as it shifts and alters the form. Paintings are a trace or reminder of the event itself; exploring the landscape and getting to know the place that I live.

Spring 2019, Oil on Polyester
90 x 90cm 

Big Skys/Upturned Earth

Displacement, rupture and fragmentation are themes that have run through my work for some time. These works have been made along the Warrego Highway to Jondaryan and Acland.  Jondaryan is a small town west of Toowoomba that is also the location where coal is loaded on to trains from the New Hope coal mine at Acland. The landscape along the Warrego Highway to Jondaryan and Acland is complicated.  There is a vast array of industries transforming the landscape form coal mining, solar farms and the Toowoomba By Pass to name a few. The Landscape at times seems sublime caught between an ancient past and an uncertain future.  The water ways are poor and seem like a dying relic of a more fertile times.  The landscape its self has been carved and remolded to accommodate a different stream. 


The ritual of driving to Acland, the early morning sunrises on the road, my exploration of the space as place is punctuated and maybe consolidated by the process of painting. Painting re-orientates my relationship to place and this re-orientation is primarily a spiritual re-orientation as well as a grounding in the physical dimensions of place. Place is not a set of geographical coordinates but a subjective experience. I cannot separate paintings made on the Acland site, its history or the anthropological impact on the landscape from the inner workings and rituals of my own life.

The connection I feel for landscape I believe has its roots in my migrant experience.

‘Migrant aesthetics’ is a title I took from Paul Carters writing on the same theme. I became interested in this as I considered my migrant status on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory.

Speaking more broadly I’m a Scottish migrant who came here when I was nine. Since that time, I’ve relocated in various parts of the country. From Brisbane to Tasmania then from Tasmania to the Northern Territory, the Territory to the Granite Belt and then the Darling Downs. As I have moved nostalgia for the previous place wanes as a new attachment to the next place begins to take root. However, ‘my place,’ is not so much any particular place but those places that express the dislocation of my migrant experience. ‘My Place’ is located in dislocation. I therefore feel a connection to the ‘tainted landscapes’ of disruption and renewal and consider this to be an aesthetic expressing a broader contemporary world view.