Between Paradise and Promised Land

Ta Neem Er Ra
Mt Roland/'Ta Neem Er Ra'/Kentish/Tasmania/Australia
Between Paradise and Promised Land
2016
Chalk, charcoal & blackboard polymer, on canvas
95 cm x 115 cm
Private collection

Artist Statement

“Place names or toponyms comprise a distinct semantic domain in the lexicons of all known languages” - Keith H. Basso
"But remember that words are signals, counters. They are not immortal. And it can happen – to use an image you’ll understand – it can happen that a civilization can be imprisoned in a linguistic contour which no longer matches the landscape…of fact." - Brian Friel


The mountain I'd first seen many years earlier in the book Great Australian Paintings - Farm, Mount Roland, Tasmania by Tom Roberts - left a lasting impression on me and I determined to see it.

I was surprised to learn that the adjoining peaks of the Roland1 massif are named after the seventeenth-century painters, Anthony Vandyke and Claude Lorrain. Mount Claude is visible in Roberts' painting and it has been suggested that he might have been intrigued by the presence of the mountains named after the old european masters.

Traveling along Claude Road beneath Mount Roland - halfway between two declaratively named Kentish places - between Paradise3 and Promised Land, I glanced back over my shoulder and was again struck by a scene I'd glimpsed the day before. The strong feeling I had experienced on both occasions, occurred in that very brief moment when something sighted hasn't yet fully formed in the mind's eye. The void is yet to be structured and its 'shapes' vibrate with potential.

Ta Neem Er Ra (Open grassy plain) is the English transcription of the place-name given to the mountain by the Six Rivers aboriginal community. The Maxicode symbol2 on the bottom left of my artwork, encodes this toponym. The 'bullseye' is used by machines to locate the symbol, enabling scanning of postal information on rapidly moving parcels.


1. The name Roland (Orlando Spanish) means "famous land" from the Germanic elements hrod "fame" and land. Roland was a semi-legendary French hero whose story is told in the medieval epic 'La Chanson de Roland'.

2. MaxiCode is a machine-readable symbol system for tracking and managing the shipment of packages, it resembles a barcode, but uses hexagonal dots arranged in a honeycomb grid instead of bars. Wikipedia, Maxicode

3. As the story goes: "Paradise was named by a land-prospecting farmer who came through dense undergrowth cover, emerging to find a magnificent view of Mt. Roland. Sitting down at the base of a large gum tree, he was said to exclaim 'This is truly paradise.'"