Heidi Yardley

Photography by Lisa Barmby

Heidi Yardley eschews the vast panoramas of contemporary painting in favour of intimately scaled compositions. Her oil paintings feature figures and settings that recall film noir or the eerie magic of the occult. And just like these influences, Yardley’s paintings are elliptical and infinitely suggestive – we, the audience, are called upon to complete the narrative and resolve the moral ambiguity generated by her uncanny scenarios. Dramatic chiaroscuro intensifies the mood and melancholia, however as much as Yardley’s paintings may hint at subversion, sex and violence, they resist the high drama of gothic horror.

Amongst other subjects, Yardley has turned her attention to narratives of the Australian landscape, to mysteries such as those that inspired the 1967 book and subsequent film Picnic at Hanging Rock or the speculative drama that surrounded the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain. These tales underscore the fraught sense of belonging experienced by white Australia, as well as asserting the primeval magic of the Australian landscape.

Yardley is not interested in simply pictorialising these stories. Just as the schoolgirls in Picnic at Hanging Rock are swallowed up by the silence and mystery of the bush, her paintings project a similarly ambiguous ambience, one we are invited to share.

Melbourne based Heidi Yardley completed a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting at Monash University in 1995 and Honours in Drawing at RMIT in 1999. She has been a finalist in a number of significant prizes including The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, UQ Art Museum National Artists’ Self-Portrait Prize, Percival Portrait Painting Prize and the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. Yardley exhibits regularly in solo and group exhibitions and her work is held in numerous public and private collections, including the BHP Billiton Collection, Artbank, The University of Queensland Art Museum and The Art Gallery of Ballarat.

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