From the River to the Bay, 2017
These powerful drawings and prints by Elizabeth James were produced in 2003-2004, inspired by the urban landscape of Melbourne from the Sofitel's restaurant on level 35, and from Room 3601. Jame's became engrossed in the wide view of the city and the interception of lines created by buildings, the Yarra River, bridges and roads. At that time the hotel was one of the few hotels in the city to have such vast panoramic views from all sides of the building. Thirteen years forward the city has changed dramatically, particularly around Docklands and on the southern bank of the Yarra, the latter most visible from the rooms in the hotel.
2003 was a unique time when the 180 degree view from Mt Dandenong to Williamstown was largely uninterrupted for a year or so. It was a challenge to plot out the complex space before me and to make editing decisions on the elements that would appear in the works.
Understanding and portraying Melbourne from an aerial perspective was also a challenge back then as the city appeared quite flat and sometimes rather difficult to interpret away from the waterways. Melbourne often resembled a “carpet pile”, with features such as the Victorian Arts Centre spire emerging from it.”
James has long been fascinated in the ancient art of map making and the visual dynamism of aerial perspectives, both elements that are often evident in early Aboriginal indigenous art and Chinese landscape scrolls. The high vantage point echoes that used in Aboriginal paintings that map the land from above and which have an integrity that is informed by travels across it and knowledge of its stories.
From the River to the Bay
Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
March - May 2017
All is Change (detail), 2016 Pencil and charcoal on paper, from the exhibition From the River to the Bay