Nature at the heart of art born from grief

FROM deep grief has come a collection of works from Newcastle artist Jo Dyer.

In March 2015, Dyer’s father Dr Ross Dyer drowned at Bar Beach. He was an emergency doctor at the John Hunter Hospital. 

“My father was a big nature lover, he loved the bush and he loved the beach,” Dyer said. “He was quite adventurous and was passionate about nature and connected to nature. 

“It might sound strange, but I think he died the way he would  have preferred to die doing something he loved, out in the waves.

“Following his death I felt this intense desire for solitude.

“I did spend time in the studio but felt this intense need to connect with nature. I did that through gardening.

“I started sitting in my garden and drawing my plants from life and actually creating some of the works in my garden.” 

The works produced from this period will go on exhibition this month. The exhibition is titled Garden State and is  about a “therapeutic connection to nature”. 

About 20 works will be on exhibition, most are on paper. 

“I guess it would be classified as neo-expressionist,” Dyer said of the works. 

“It’s figurative, but also semi-abstract.

“I love experimenting with different textures and different media. 

“It’s got a bit of a naive style, in terms of the figures, but I’m really trying to capture the energy of creating.

“It’s very emotive, a lot of people are drawn in by the eyes.

“I guess what I am trying to convey in these works is the inner-world of the figures – the emotional world. 

“The textures and the colours, they represent that. It’s about trying to convey connection to nature and feeling those two worlds merge.

“It’s almost like the outer landscape of the garden merging with your inner emotions, thoughts and feelings.” 

The works have been “translated” into ceramic sculpture, about six pieces will be on exhibition. 

The exhibition is a fundraiser for Global Gardens of Peace, an organisation which creates green-spaces for disadvantaged communities. 

“It’s an Australian charity … starting with a project in the Gaza Strip,” Dyer said.

“One of the founders went there and saw children playing in the rubble and went and visited a cemetery and it was literately the only green-space in the community.”

The works will be for sale through a silent auction, with 10 per cent of sales going to the charity. To bid visit:

Garden State opens on August 16 at Gallery 139, 139 Beaumont Street, Hamilton.