Important Australian and International Fine Art
10 May 2017


born 1949

synthetic polymer paint on linen

91.5 x 152.5 cm

signed lower right: Storrier
inscribed with title verso: ‘THE WAVE & GARLAND’

$45,000 – 65,000
Sold for $91,500 (inc. BP) in Auction 49 - 10 May 2017, Sydney

Sherman Galleries, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney, acquired from the above in 1999
Deutscher and Hackett, Melbourne, 20 April 2011, lot 31
Private collection, Sydney


The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia, Sherman Galleries, Sydney and touring to Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong; Singapore Art Museum, Singapore; Holmes à Court Gallery, Perth; S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney and Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery, Sydney, 1999 – 2000

Catalogue text

Paradoxically one of the country’s most popular yet simultaneously elusive artists, Tim Storrier first captured the imagination of the art world with his signature images of burning ropes and logs set against expansive parched desert plains and vast skies powerfully evoking the unyielding essence of the Australian landscape. Drawing inspiration from the great Romantic painters of the nineteenth century such as JMW Turner and Casper David Friedrich, his blazing landscapes not only contemplated the insignificance of humankind when compared with the awesome magnitude of the natural world, but inevitably encouraged darker, more pessimistic readings with his abandoned campsites and smouldering embers suggesting themes of displacement, isolation and decay.

Continuing this interest in the four elements and the power of life which they embody, towards the end of the millennium Storrier sought a new direction for his art, substituting the motif of fire with water – and specifically, the ocean with its uncharted depths and relentless untamed power. As biographer Catharine Lumby elucidates,

‘…it is arguably only in his mature, mid-career works that Storrier’s command of his expressive impulses has begun to approach his precocious command of line, texture and composition. It is an evolution best evidenced in a suite of late 1990s images that find the artist, uncharacteristically at sea – exploring deep water in both literal and symbolic terms. In a series of brooding seascapes, Storrier trained his gaze away from his traditional subject matter to the sea and to an entirely different kind of wild vastness – to bodies of water uncrewed and unmarked by anyone who traversed their boundaries, save for the odd scattering of flowers left drifting on the waves...’1

A stunning example from this important period, Wave and Garland, 1999 betrays strong affinities with other major works from Storrier’s oeuvre including The Cruel Sea, 1996 (a familiar outback landscape interrupted by the ‘surreal’ inclusion of television set featuring a rolling sea on its screen); The Rose Crossing, 1999 with its allusions to Nicholas Jose’s epic tale of journeying (crossing) between Europe and Asia; and of course, the artist’s monumental flower paintings exemplified in this auction by Evening (Flowers for Nancy), 1993 (lot 16). In her monograph on the artist, Lumby notes that water is ‘one of nature’s powerful emblems – an icon of resistance to the civilising forces of culture and of attempts to impose order on the world’2 and certainly, Storrier seems to here embrace such symbolism, as the swell of the sea threatens to overwhelm the exquisitely beautiful garland of floral blooms floating incongruously upon the treacherous waves. A memento mori reminiscent of wreaths cast adrift to remember those lost at sea, thus the flowers poignantly allude to both the fragility of life and our own mortality, imbuing the work with a poetic, abject melancholy that is Storrier at his best. As Lumby asserts, such seascapes marked ‘a new point of departure for the artist – but equally announced the beginning of a journey back to the emotional and symbolic roots that have always fuelled his oeuvre.’3

1. Lumby, C., The Art of the Outsider, Craftsman House, Sydney, 2000, p.144
2. ibid.
3. ibid.