'They Once Felt Like Water' - Solo exhibition of newest works by Llewellyn Skye 

Wagner Contemporary Gallery - 30 April - 25 May, 2022

Exhibition Statement | The inspiration for Llewellyn Skye’s inaugural solo exhibition at Wagner Contemporary emanates from a poem by Tyler Knott Gregson that captures the tumbling nature of words in the metaphor of water.

“I love the idea of words being like water. I really want to  capture a sense of that sensation. Like “confetti in a slight breeze” - a line from the poem - my work plays on this,” Skye reflects. Working in mixed media (in oil and acrylic), the artist’s instinctive brushstrokes relay the feeling of energy in expressive and fluid dashes, strokes and swirls of paint. 

In each abstraction we become absorbed in the artist’s medium and materials - our eye follows the course of her brush across the canvas, tracing its rapid movement, markings and dancing lines. For Skye, colour is a “tool for exploration” and an investigative approach to her practice is reflected in a dynamic language that speaks vividly, boldly, and movingly, in each work. 

As well as poetry, the artist draws inspiration from music, nature and exotic flowers along with personal experiences of love, loss and grief. “My work always reflects something about life”, she observes, and the earthy, moody quality of large-scale works featured in the exhibition emotionally resonates with her current interpretation of space, place and time. “This year I’ve needed to focus and refine. To breathe deeply. I’m feeling calmer, lighter”.

Although each work connects with a particular feeling or memory, a true sense of mystery underlies each. 'They Once Felt Like Water' is a collection of paintings that transports us to a level of experience beyond the act of looking, felt viscerally through movement and motion. Each work expresses a range of sensations and invites the viewer to share this journey of wonder and discovery.

Llewellyn Skye is a highly acclaimed and award-winning artist whose work has been exhibited in over 60 group and solo exhibitions.  She is a recipient of the Fenton & Fenton Rising Talent Award (2021), the ALA Abstract Artist Award (2021) and the BLA Award (2018). Skye was Highly Commended in the John Olsen Drawing Prize and was previously awarded a painting residency in Italy. She has carried out numerous commissions and her works are held by public and private collections in Australia and overseas.

- Wagner Contemporary

Artist Statement | I am a total romantic at heart but I’ve never been good with words, especially when I'm emotional. If I’m over excited or nervous I find myself stumbling over them, saying the wrong thing, scrambling for the right one.

When I paint, none of that matters. If I’m over excited it creates an energy that translates onto the canvas - I’m moving fast, I’m totally engaged and immersed in the process, I feel connected and grounded. If I’m nervous in the studio, I pace, and think, I wonder why I’m feeling challenged, and I love it, it pushes me to new ground.

Connecting with lyrics and poetry in the studio brings the two worlds together. I'm swept away by the words, emotions and memories are stirred and inspired. I can express how I feel in paint without having to experience the awkwardness or anxiety words can bring.

Inspired by Tyler Knott Gregson’s poetry, ‘They Once Felt Like Water’ celebrates the synthesis between my tumbling words and the connection I feel towards painting.

Through investigating this connection and acknowledging my awkward, fumbling nature - at times, I now feel a sense of calmness and acceptance about it all.

To express this visually I chose a softer palette of earthy tones, pastels, watery blues and teals, raw linens and raw canvasses. Like my previous exhibitions and work over the past three and a half years, I am dancing between floral still life set up's and abstraction, but this time, and more so, I'm allowing my love of drawing to cut through the colourful abstract backgrounds, to create a sense of tension, energy and excitement - something I feel almost everyday when I'm facing the canvas.

This exhibition feels like I am finally bringing so many worlds of my process together.

 - Llewellyn Skye

The words aren’t falling

out of my mouth

in the same ways


Once they felt like water

They leaked

and rose

and baptized me new,

halo fresh without the glow.

They explode now,

confetti in a slight breeze

and I am racing around

To pick up the pieces.

 - Tyler Knott Gregson

Tyler Knott Gregson poem.jpeg
- Tyler Knott Gregson