Mark Tredinnick on the paintings of Victoria King

If you look into one of Victoria King’s canvases, as when you stand a while in the company of a mountain or a body of ancient water, you divine many histories welled and silent, way beyond our time and beckoning—yet they are present. There are many presences in Victoria King’s work. Hers is an art that attempts to surrender to the phrases and forms, the intelligence of the wild world.

I sense she doesn’t so much create these works as draw them up from memory, through some steady forgetfulness of self. Restraining her thought, giving her body back to the land’s intricate and ancient choreography, she recovers on canvas some of the consciousness that lies in its infinite expressions all about us in earth and air and water and in all the forms that move within them. In her work she gives herself over to a memory we all dimly share of authentic knowledge, of archetypal shapes and necessary relations, of mystery. Her planes and shadows, the sheets of elegant colour, the masked gestures, all her layered endeavours to efface herself and the marks of her conscious striving—in these gentle ways, with a simplicity won by the toughest of disciplines, her paintings speak the mysteries and leave them, as is appropriate, untouched, elusive, honoured. With the same quality that belongs to the retelling we make of a dream upon waking from it, her art narrates her memory of the earth and what it is to belong within the world’s work of constant creation.

The land tells its own story of evolution, and is never merely what it seems just now. So it is with Victoria King’s canvases: they are the story of their making, and it is a story that has its beginnings long ago.

© Mark Tredinnick, Australian poet and author

Lars Knudsen on the paintings of Victoria King

This is seductive painting; luminous colour subverts the senses, strategic marks and subtle textures are cleverly deployed, promising possibilities, inviting speculation. These are paintings meant to be revisited, like starry nights or treasured memories they will continue to reveal unexpected pleasures.

It’s easy to say a painting is finished at the moment when it explicitly expresses its purpose. What is not so easy for many creative artists is to determine when that moment is. Not so Victoria King. In her abstract watercolours and acrylics she resolves the dilemma by restraint. Intuition and discipline signal a suspension which seems to transfix the fugitive reverberations of pristine thought. Images evolve and devolve, tantalisingly not quite abstract, not quite figurative; the unsaid speaks, saying (what else?) the unsayable.

© Lars Knudsen

Sebastian Smee on the paintings of Victoria King

If our Government became, overnight, an aesthetic dictatorship (just imagine), one of the first midnight edicts for the Ministry of Art to pass would be a ban on delicate, minimalist abstractions of landscape – the sort which, combining a bit of Fred Williams with some Rothko and a dash of Whistler, says ”Take me or leave me,” then makes you feel like an insensitive Visigoth if you choose option 2. Luckily, we live under a less censorious regime, because good work continues to be done under its banner. Victoria King’s paintings feel sensitive to their main subjects: the central desert and tropical north areas of Australia. Palimpsest, a painting in yellows and greens with looping lines and two tiny red glitches in the colour scheme, is a great success. Sentinel inserts an iridescent red line between two swathes of purple sky and blue sea.

© Sebastian Smee, art critic, Sydney Morning Herald

Exhibition and Poetry Reviews

Poetry Reviews

Black Stone Birds

Trim in their driftwood and ink as the flight of the birds they bow to; holy in their painted silence as the birds of the actual air, in their songs—Vicki King’s birds look out from these pages, as if through your window. They look like answers to prayers you wish now you’d said; they arrive like thanks you forgot to offer. Thirty-seven small but brilliant ideas, bright as gods in the mind of an estuary. These images are acts of love and fierce attention, softly and wisely articulated, and they remind me of Tagore’s stray birds, “little vagrants of the world.” And Victoria King’s poems read like the tracks these stray birds might leave in sand, the calls they make at night.

© Mark Tredinnick, author of Fire Diary and The Blue Plateau, winner of the Montreal International Poetry Prize

The great tragedy of our times is the accelerating biological impoverishment of the globe. And so it is that Bruny Island is special, a place charged still with life in all its riotous exuberance. The island's spirit soars aloft, borne on the wings of the birds that flourish there yet. May they ever do. Victoria King channels the island's avian spirit and the particulars of its soaring life in these sculpted, diamantine poems. Her island and its birds are beautifully observed in word and beautifully visualised in line. This collection is a significant addition to the literature that hymns the life, marvellous beyond compare, with which we share this embattled planet.

© Peter Hay, author of Vandiemonian Essays and Main Currents in Western Environmental Thought

This is a powerful and moving document. The visual images are arresting, haunting and extremely evocative of a particular place and its multi-layered histories, its presences and absences. The range of media is impressive, and I love the spareness and simplicity of the images. They speak in many different ways about nature and its abundance; our impact on environment/place/nature; connections between place and people, wildlife and people; reciprocity; stewardship, [and] the writing is assured and accomplished.

© Adrienne Eberhard, poet and author of Agamemnon’s Poppies.

Memento Mori

While on a pilgrimage paying homage to Cezanne, van Gogh and Matisse in French villages, and to quattrocento fresco artists in Italian hill towns, Victoria King's mother unexpectedly died in America. Her sixty-four illustrated poems within Memento Mori reflect the paradox of encountering beauty while experiencing profound grief. They delve into the nature of impermanence and the psychological complexities that can surround the death of a loved one, and illuminate the transcendent nature and darker sides of art and spirituality.

Black Stone Birds and Memento Mori are available to order online or from Victoria:

© Copyright Victoria King 2023.