An Australian Encounters the English Landscape

Jill Ker Conway (added by GPL)

Schooled as I was in English literature, my mental habits formed by the relationship to nature expressed in Renaissance and Romantic poetry, actually seeing the landscape was a disappointment. The light was too misty, the air too filled with water. The Cotswold hills, the deer grazing in the park at Knole, even the great heath that inspired Hardy's Egdon Heath in Tess of the D'Urbervilles seemed on the wrong scale. I had imagined it on a larger scale, and kept wanting to get a longer perspective on things. It took a visit to England for me to understand how the Australian landscape actually formed the ground of my consciousness, shaped what I saw, and influenced the way a scene was organized in my mental imagery. I could teach myself through literature and painting to enjoy this landscape in England, but it would be the schooled response of the connoisseur, not the passionate response one has for the earth where one is born. My landscape was sparer, more brilliant in color, stronger in its contrasts, majestic in its scale, and bathed in shimmering light.

(Jill Ker Conway, The Road from Coorain, New York: Vintage, 1989, 198.)

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Jill Conway