Rosie Perl’s childhood home looked a lot like paradise.
The palm trees and lazy, hazy skies of Java seemed like heaven to the daughter of an Australian civil engineer sent overseas for work.
When her father died suddenly and Perl found herself back in Brisbane, the contrast was shocking and she longed for the tropical surrounds of her childhood.
But as an adult, visiting the places she grew up as a child – Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Malaysia – she was confronted by the hardships the local people faced.
Perl has channelled those feelings – of grand beauty but also of unsettling discomfort – into a series of exquisite landscape works on canvas using sculpture, resins and gilding.
Tiny figures feature in front of intricately-sculpted landscapes and move in and out of body masks, Perl’s homage to Papuan wicker-woven tribal pieces.
Large canvases sprawl large across walls with built-up resins, marked with tribal markings or etchings of Chantilly gold leaf lace, pushing the viewer’s psyche front and centre.
Each piece is cut and measured intricately, taking Perl weeks on end to complete each section, a process she finds compelling as the images in her mind become objects.
“They say the most profound landscapes are those we walk through as a child,” Perl said.
“Where I grew up, spirituality was very much a part of life. There’s a sense that God is present in the landscape – places that we go to in our minds that make us feel safe, the staggering geographical beauty that has an impact on you when you look at a landscape and feel it.”
The now Sydney-based artist said memory, which could be so easily misconstrued, featured heavily.
“The works in the exhibition are a reflection of the memories I have from the time I spent in Papua New Guinea as a child, which were quite a contrast to the experiences of my recent visit,” she said.
“I was confronted by the level of poverty and desperation which wasn’t present in my childhood memories. The works in this exhibition are a method of reconciling my childhood sense of self with my renewed experience and how this informs and progresses my present.”
Inscapes will open at The Lost Ones gallery this Saturday from 2pm to 4pm. Perl will be on-site, giving demonstrations.