I have always held a fascination for taking found or discarded items and giving them a new life. Over the past decade my focus has turned toward the quiet reflection of Victorian photographs. These largely anonymous images have within them an intrinsic sense of separation and loss but also a vitality, individuality and an enigmatic quality which resonates with me. I am drawn to the Victorian obsession with memory, mourning and collection and find that these images reach out alluringly to speak of the commonalities and mysteries between their time and our own. It is my compulsion to search out the emotional response I feel when reflecting on the sitter and how they desired to be represented in their time and remembered in ours. The paintings which result from this contemplation are autobiographical in nature. Through a thousand little choices and alterations I endeavor to create a conversation in colour and form between the past and the present, linking each work back to my own personal narrative and sense of the passage of time and its rites. I hope these works will remind the viewer of the beauty of all is transient; life, memory and the myriad of little moments of imagination and joy which are difficult to preserve but worthy of the attempt.
- Fern Petrie March 2021