'Renewal. Going to nature. Bringing nature in.' Jo Lombardo and Yudha Scholes

A shared love of nature provides a common focus for the varied art practices of Jo Lombardo and Yudha Scholes. As Visual Art practitioners and teachers Jo and Yudha are regularly refreshed and renewed by trips to the coast or bushland, to connect, unwind and observe the rhythms of life.

Yudha sees the natural world as a living being – the source of all life.

“I love to go to nature. All nourishment and beauty come from the earth, sun and the ocean and I feel revitalised in it. In these latest paintings I have been exploring the qualities of natural environments, from the random growth of branches and sublime reflections of rivers to the vibrant optimism of the sun shining over a hillside. It is at once obvious and infinitely subtle, the perfect muse.

Each untouched scene creates a challenge for me to navigate the tensions between representation and abstraction, to share my intuitive and emotional responses to it. In this way, whether I’m visiting a family favourite beach or sacred rivers discovered on cultural tours, all become locations that inspire unique painterly responses. Then in my studio, I can go back to these places, through memory, photographs and personal experience whilst painting. “

Jo is fascinated with intimate details of plants and flowers – those she encounters on her travels and the house plants and blooms that people bring into their environments.

“I am always stopping to marvel at the shape of a leaf or the formation of a flower. As a trained photographer I have always captured images of the organic shapes and patterns of foliage and florals, so it was a natural progression to use them as a source for my digital illustrations.

The photograph is used as inspiration; however, the digital illustrations take on a life of their own as I explore design elements and principles to create my compositions. The circular discs crop and  enclose the designs and suspend them in stillness as decorative memories of places I have visited. Bringing Nature In.”

Renewal is an opportunity for Jo and Yudha to present their individual representations of the natural world together for the first time. The common theme provides a sense of unity to the exhibitions. The contrasting lenses of micro and macro help bring each artist’s unique viewpoint clearly into focus.                                                                                                        

Narratives to the Paintings, Yudha Scholes

Forrest Caves Series

These paintings are of the Forrest Caves near Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island. We came across these beautiful rock formations sunken into the beach on a family adventure. As you peer in, the tide recedes to reveal an inner world. Yellow, orange and brown sandstone hover above the sandy floor. If you stay in the rocks long enough the tide whooshes and chases you when it comes back in.

Bochara River, Gunditjamara Series

I was introduced to this area called Gunditjamara country by indigenous leaders on a culture camp in 2018. The original name for the river is called the Bochara (also Nelson). It is incredibly beautiful. It has so many moods, from lush and vibrant to open and serene. We paddled kayaks down the river by day and night, through tall grasses and complex limestone cliffs. We camped as the river slept in inky darkness. It was a magical experience.

Yarra River, Jumping Creek Series

These paintings are of the Yarra River near Warrandyte. We searched for the meeting place between Jumping Creek and the river, where the water meets. I was captivated by the way the big river gums jostled along the shore. There were so many varieties of plants and trees with different shades of greens, yellows and oranges. It reminded me of a painting palette.

Broullee Island Series

These paintings are of the amazing rocks and coastal formations around Broullee Island in NSW. My dad lives there and took me for a walk around the island just before sunset. I remember the bright blue sky reflecting off the rivulets in the rocks, looking like electric currents. We raced the sun as it sunk gracefully behind the island, creating incredible silhouettes as it disappeared.

Kilcunda Coast Series

I always remember the first time I saw Kilcunda beach. The huge cliffs create the most spectacular setting for beautiful beaches and rock formations. I love the ruggedness and unpredictability of the Bass Strait coast. We have had many family adventures there, walking along rockpools, kayaking on Powlett River and simply watching the waves roll in through a glorious summer day. It’s a special place to me.

Murray River, Barmah Series

These paintings are based on a magic moment, floating down the Murray River on Yorta Yorta country in our kayaks. We had been camping in the Barmah state forest on a Men’s Business cultural camp with Indigenous leaders. The simple instruction was to watch the river waking up. As the sun slowly rose, I really felt like we were part of a living being, as it snaked through the rustling trees.