Paintings By Margaret Benoit

b. 1941

''What we choose to look at creates our own experience. I have responded to my environment mainly in the vineyards of Western Australia where the ever-changing seasons are constantly before me. It is a dramatic landscape filled with light and colour where images are rarely blurred and where figures attract with clarity.

The migrant families from Yugoslavia and Italy who settled in the Swan Valley shaped many of the vineyards seen today and their descendants keep alive the sense of history. My early paintings depicted in particular the figures of women who wore colourful headscarves and along with their husbands and brothers, pruned and shaped and gathered the harvest. Olive trees were planted and watermelons and rockmelons filled the fields.

Vines with trunks thicker than trees still grow and new varieties are always replacing spent vines. I admire the persistent effort required to grow and maintain the grapevines. It is hard work and some years the weather plays havoc and birds can do their damage. The triumph of nature and labour is always finally revealed in the glass of wine which then becomes our celebration.

I lived in my birthplace of Sydney for thirty years before living in Europe and then returning to Australia expecting to head for Sydney. Our journey home took us to Perth and chance circumstances kept us there. We settled in the Swan Valley and so began my vineyard paintings.
I do not use a camera because it restricts my freedom; it stops the eye deciding where to go. It withholds the power to engage and actually distorts the truth.

What is in or out of fashion means nothing to me. What matters to me is the paint and the emotion behind its application.

I love the refined works of Dorothy Napangardi depicting Women’s Dreaming. I like the simple compositions of Ben Nicholson and also the strong paintings of Lucien Freud. Still remaining as luminous greats are Velasquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt and Goya.

My work makes me live in my own way and expresses for me the optimism in wanting to communicate the world I know.''

Margaret Benoit