Excerpt from Spiritland Catalogue 2005 (St James Cavalier, Valletta, Malta)
As part of the Maltese Australian Chamber of Commerce Cultural Week Supported by Emirates Air
Spirit Land is a new painting exhibition by internationally renowned artist Maree Azzopardi. Traditionally known for her photo works, Spirit Land is a painting exhibition about Azzopardi’s spiritual journey through her connection to the Australian landscape. As a first generation Australian of Maltese descent, Azzopardi’s work attempts to explore the notion of one’s spirit being influenced and belonging to the land, of being inherently part of the changing landscape and being made whole by the spirit of the land.
Witnessing the regeneration of life on the ravished landscape after Christmas fires swept through her family’s property on the lower Blue Mountains area, Spirit Land was inspired soon after the Sydney bushfires, a regular occurrence in Australia.
Another influence in this new series of paintings was that Azzopardi’s extended family experienced the loss of three young family members. Most devastating was the loss of her maternal grandmother, a major influence in Azzopardi’s life. This was an event that made Azzopardi question one’s connection to heritage, to land, to burial, to renewal, to spirit and the sacred, which is evident in Azzopardi’s new metaphysical landscape paintings.
The work was then executed while Azzopardi was artist in residence at Bundanon, an artist’s retreat in Sydney’s lush, green, south, along the Shoalhaven River. The property was bequeathed to the Australian people by one of Australia’s most loved artists, the late Arthur Boyd, an artist whose influence is evident in Azzopardi’s latest paintings.