September 29 - October 5, 2013: Issue 130

 Cade Turner 

For the past few years we’ve been visiting Cade Turner exhibitions simply to enjoy a dreamlike communication of almost colours and almost shapes that convey a kind of music even where there is silence. This extraordinary young photographic artist seems to be able to reach inside some universal soul and capture all the half formed visions dwelling there and then place them before you. 

A Narrabeen resident since birth who is attuned to the watery dreamings of that beautiful lagoon, with multiple exhibitions both here in Australia and overseas, and part of this year’s Manly Arts Festival, the brightness, colours and music inherent in Spring could have no better herald than Artist of the Month for October, Cade Turner. 

Please describe yourself...

Very dynamic, driven, always looking at things from a different angle, looking for something that hasn’t been done before. I’m a self-taught person – I taught myself music, photography, so very internal processing and visionary.

How would you describe your art?

It’s Romantic in origin – I’m a Romanticist at the core.  The works that I’m exploring at the moment operate between Impressionism and Romanticism.

I’ve been exploring Impressionism and movement in photography since 2009. Over the last twelve months I’ve been looking at what inspired Impressionism; where did this come from – who inspired Monet for example – and that brought me back to JMW Turner. Looking at Turner I began to understand about colour and the subtlety of variances in tones and this completely shifted my perspective – his (Turner’s) understanding of colour and light has sharpened my perception of colour and light. 

My original photography was more abstract colour works, along the same lines as American artist, Edward Hopper (1882-1967) – who has quite sharp imagery– also Australian artist Jeffrey Smart (1921–2013). Now it has come right back to a much softer palette, inspired by Turner.

Turner explored the subtleties and variances in light and colour.  I was fascinated by that. I couldn’t have looked at Turner five years ago because I wasn’t ready. But I’ve always looked at Monet and have similar influences from Oriental art, particularly Japanese works. I’m also researching Chinese Ink Painting at the moment.

Right: Cade Turner, Self Portrait, March 2011.

My latest series is about pulling me back into Romanticism and using the camera more and more as a paintbrush. I wouldn’t consider myself a photographer – I’m more an artist, painting with light.  

I’ve also been writing music since I was ten years old.  All my music is romantic in origin.  Now my art has come back to a point where it’s actually beginning to fuse to my music. I’m writing music again now too.

What do you sense of your own personal development through your art?

Number one would be I never left my childhood – I connect with my inner child all the time whether it is for something I’m doing visually, artistically or even in business. I have also been in corporate marketing for the past 10 years.

I have stayed in touch with my inner truth – I think that’s very important. You can’t be a true artist unless you find your own inner truth. It’s not easy to find – I’ve dedicated the last five years to finding that and doing a lot of internal research.  It is a lot of internal research; going back, going into your childhood – I’ve kept so much from my childhood and was only looking at this yesterday as I’m doing more exercises at the moment – and being here, in this space at Narrabeen, I’m in my childhood – to current day.

So the first is that I’ve never left my childhood. The second in terms of milestones in development or points of realisation that have led to my development, would be my connection to the inner truth, and that connection with my romantic core.

The way I do research is I don’t read books – I scan and pick things up – highlight some and keep notes. This is my bible (indicates journal/notebook) – this comes with me everywhere – and in this way I pull things in. Developing and really connecting with my inner truth.

I saw a really interesting documentary when I had an exhibition in New York on fine art photographers – one of these was an artist called Gregory Crewdson – he’s an American fine art photographer, huge in the States, like a Hollywood movie star, but he shoots single frames. He described it as ‘art is all about connecting with your inner truth and continually projecting that outward’. 

That resonated with me and is in my journal. I do mind maps a lot, for creative projects, concepts, exhibitions; not always for visual creations.

A third realisation or connection I had occurred after the Monet exhibition here in Sydney in 2009 – it was completely unexpected. I came out and had an emotional response to the show – I’d never had that towards art before – music, film, but not art. I was sitting in a café, Kel my wife had just gone to the restrooms, I was on the phone to my mum and it just hit, just absolutely hit me – it took about three days, percolating, and I worked out that I had light, and I had colour, and now I wanted to explore movement. I wanted to create Impressionist photographs. I wanted to create Monet’s water lilies in a photograph.

How do I do that – I don’t use photoshop because I work intuitively. I have to feel it – and thought, well, I’ll get out there and start doing it, exploring how to. Because I’m self-taught in technique my mind was ‘how do I do it? am I going to do this?

I studied Monet’s paintings up close in detail – looking at all the different strokes in many of his works, and came to ‘how do you create a number of kinds of movement in a single frame?’ – that’s the challenge for photography – a lot of people are doing this kind of work where you can see precisely the same movement in the same or different  elements; all moving in the same direction at the same velocity – but painting is free form, painting is where you have a variety of different actions that are taking place. What occurs with a frame (in photography) is that you have a second – one second, if that. 

So I started watching scenes and going places (Airlie Beach for example ) or this – a series I called ‘Reflection’ 

You grew up here in Narrabeen?


What major changes have you seen here?

It has developed a lot, certainly things aren’t as sparse as they used to be. I remember scooping sand off the street after a storm, the beaches were longer – I was down the beach the other day and the erosion has affected this. The nature of the culture here has changed too – I now go and get a coffee on my way to the studio and would not have done that before. I get sushi – we have a sushi shop in Narrabeen – so eating raw seafood for lunch is not something I would have foreseen.  I have a kayak which I still take straight out the back here (onto the Lagoon).

Does the natural environment influence your work?

Definitely. All of my work is influenced by light, particularly natural light. So the sun, which has been a part of my life forever, is my main driver. I also see things – I look outside at things I always look at all the time but I never see the same image again – it’s always different. I’m forever looking at moments of light and colour is a big part of that, as are shapes. 

You have recently become a father – has this affected your work?

Not yet. It’s interesting as when I was having an exhibition in town I was speaking to one of the artists exhibiting there who had a 16 month old daughter and I asked him that question. He said, and had obviously thought more about it than I had, ‘it takes two years’ …for him to have a life experience start to influence his art. 

For me, at the moment, as I have given myself this year to pursue this and have left my job, this is the first series which is a product of that, the first six months. I’m finding out what happens if you give yourself time and your own space.

There is a dreamlike tranquillity to these works – is that what you intended or what has evolved as part of your processes?

It’s what I’m being guided with on location. That in itself will create qualities or eventually you do see a style coming through when you lay out all the works. 

With Turner I now understand the reason I love his work as I feel the music in them. I then read an article in the SMH (A Broad Perspective SMH, June 12th, 2013)  which was published when the Turner exhibition was opened in Canberra describes Turner as It is intangible, incalculable, a thing to be felt, not comprehended - a music of the eyes, a melody of the heart…’ Art critics are constantly connecting his work to music.

That description – his relationship between art and music –is also what I felt. And also the movement in his work.

I’ve been exploring Turner for the last few years but have only been shooting Turner for the last year because it has taken a while, digesting, absorbing and gathering images – this one here is for me one of the most powerful images (Norham Castle Sunrise, c.1845 by Joseph Mallord William Turner )

It’s just like a watercolour but it’s in oils  - it’s just so subtle and reminded me of Monet – like Monet’s sunrise. I love that diffusion quality on Impressionism and like that in Turner – but Turner is more abstract than Impressionism.

I love abstraction because it allows people to find their own way in, their own interpretation. When I’m producing those works I don’t know how abstract I’m going to get – it just depends where I’m going to find the story. 

That’s what the video is about – underneath reality, as being of multiple dimensions. This particular work here I shot in Tasmania – it’s inside a letterbox – you don’t know what you’re going to find until you get there – I was attracted to the colour straight away – it didn’t look anything like that form the outside; it was frosty and white – but while driving past I was imaging what the colour would be like on the inside with the sun bleeding through and imagining what the colour would be like o the inside.

I came back and shot it in 20 minutes – there’s no detail there – it’s a pure celebration of colour.

How far do you travel to find subjects?

Everywhere – Tasmania, all around thew world. I haven’t done a lot of Asia – I have been in Japan – that’s the Pink Dragon in Tokyo – our local environment – the northern beaches. 

So while attending your exhibitions overseas you’ve taken the opportunity to create?

Yes, I have. I went to New York in 2010 and shot there and was back the following year to exhibit, both the works I had shot I re-shot again while there. 

It’s not often that I’m pre-descriptive as I’m intuitive on location but in some cases I get visions and see very quickly - as in this case these towering buildings and shadows – that sense of awe, and that too is romantic by nature; the sense of awe, the epic-ness – not of nature in this case but of an incredible city. 

My art is definitely helped by being extremely sensitive to my environment, wherever I am – that’s how I do what I do – that extreme sensitivity. I have always been like this – was scared of shapes – my earliest memory was of a distinct shadow – which was just a door handle the sun would hit and make larger – I was just three and it used to really scare me. 

Apart from Monet and Turner – who else have been your influences?

I started with music, so Beethoven, Eric Satie who wrote the Gymnopédies., while one of my favourite pieces is his Gnossienne 1, his music is like the score from American Beauty, really airy and very light, so the classical composers, as that’s where I started. 

Early memories include Elton John, for his ballad like structure; so romantic music, even in a modern context; the Beatles, Pink Floyd, I’m a massive Pink Floyd fan.

In terms of photography – Dan Holdsworth from the UK, Bill Jacobson from New York, Ansell Adams for his dedication to one subject – he had such a heightened sense of connection – I think he shot that cliff in Yellowstone National Park  hundreds of times.

I’ve also been influenced by Designers – so there’s design elements in my works as well. I love design probably because I have that emotional connection to the ascetic – so Storm Thorgerson who is actually the artist behind the cover of this Pink Floyd album, and died earlier this year – his mind is amazing.

So not just artists but people who are visionary. 

You have worked to support doing your art work – have you experienced the physical shift some creators speak of when moving from the discipline of work to the discipline of creating? 

Yes I do. I have a scientific brain – I’ve got my commercial pilot’s licence and was doing aviation, so have a very scientific side coupled with this other side that has an enormous curiosity and ability for art and free creative thought and so am constantly shifting between these two polarities. 

How do you maintain a balance so both are supported and can go forward?

For me it comes down to being a good planner. I’ll know what I want to do in a week – I’ll schedule creative time, schedule logistical time but also having a lot of discipline helps.

I went from Uni into Marketing in film and media – I identified Marketing as being creativity in a structured environment – so that worked as the co-existence of both worlds.

What is coming up for you? 

Creatively, I’m still exploring Impressionism and Romanticism, particularly Turner and Monet.  It’s a big topic, so I’ll be here for some time.

I'm currently working on a new artwork of Manly Beach in response to the work by Australian artist, Nancy Kilgour (1904-1954).   The work will go on show in November at the Manly Regional Art Gallery as part of their Keeping Company exhibition. 

I’m also looking at figures and starting to explore narrative. I’ve always loved Hitchcock, studied him at Uni, so I’m now working on a Hitchcock series which has been inspired by Vertigo (1958). 

I’m besotted with it – the music I will play all day while I’m drawing scenes  - I’ve already been to some of the locations, will shoot some here on the Northern beaches and I’m going to do an entire series of scenes – in fact this scene here I already envisioned. 

It’s common for people to say artists will envision their next show at a current show. I’ve been reading this fantastic book ‘New Romantics in Australian Art’ which sets out this, and this is what occurred to me.

If you could be another creature for a day, furred, finned, feathered, what would you be and do?

A pelican.  I love pelicans because they’re elegant and majestic and because they’re the closest thing I can find to a 747. I love 747’s. I use analogies for planes and flying all the time, in everything I do. 

What is your favourite place in Pittwater and why?

The beach, looking straight out, the horizon. The horizon just because it’s pure indulgence in the romantic ideal. It’s everything; the future, supreme optimism, the next goal, the next thing to reach for.

What is your ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase you try to live by?

“Imagination is more important then knowledge.” (Albert Einstein)

 CADE TURNER - Symphony of Light Exhibition, Sydney 2013


Cade Turner, in his studio, on location. 

 Copyright Cade Turner, 2013.