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Gallery: Judith Van Heeren’s Sea Garden at Murray White Room, Melbourne

Judith Van Heeren’s new exhibition of natural history paintings, Sea Garden, is at Murray White Room in Melbourne’s CBD until May 5 .

JudithVanHeeren6_Sea garden with pink sea anemone 2016_48x50cm
Sea garden with pink sea anemone 2016, 48 x 50 cm

Sea Garden was partly inspired by the 1769 painting Sea Plumes, Lithophytes and Shells by Anne Vallayer-Coster in the Louvre.

JudithVanHeeren3_Sea garden with sponges 2018_60x76cm
Sea garden with sponges 2018,60 x76 cm

“The painting is just so exquisitely painted and full of mystery and intrigue. At that time I imagined the oceans as being unbelievably alive, and that image just stayed with me,” Van Heeren said in an artist’s statement.

JudithVanHeeren2_Seagarden with volcano 2018_50x60cm
Seagarden with volcano 2018, 50 x 60 cm

“What this painting has is a jewel-like preciousness so I wanted these new paintings to embody that preciousness, being like encrusted jewels.”

JudithVanHeeren_7Sea garden with anemones 2018_62x76cm
Sea garden with anemones 2018, 62 x76 cm

The Dutch-born Van Heeren’s work continues her paintings of the natural world and the way it is represented, but this show specifically draws on time the artist spent diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

JudithVanHeeren_4Sea garden with purple sponge 2018_60x76cm
Sea garden with purple sponge 2018, 60 x 76 cm

“I wanted to paint the beauty and also the fragility of this part of the world – these sea gardens under the surface of the ocean – that the majority of people have never seen and maybe never will see. I wanted to paint it in all its glory but also to capture it as fraught with tension,” says Van Heeren.

JudithVanHeeren6_Pink sponge 2018_50x60cm
Pink sponge 2018, 50 x 60 cm

“By giving this subject my time, giving it my sensitivity, I want to make it enticing and beautiful. When you paint something, rather than rendering it on a digital screen, it takes a long time. I wanted to imbue these works with a sense of that mysterious process.”

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