Sense of place

Known for her moody, ethereal style, Greer Clayton explores the form, tonal resonance, and texture of a landscape to evoke an engaging representation of the environment she occupies.

Her paintings offer a subliminal connectivity with the land itself, offering themselves as instruments with which to view beyond what the naked eye has previously submitted as fact when viewing scenes and vistas in the flesh.

Greer Clayton in her studio.

Greer’s landscapes feel both familiar and foreign; there’s a deep sense of having visited the scenes she depicts despite their abstracted, ambiguous forms. “I work with particular materials and techniques that allow me to emphasise a sense that the line between reality and abstraction has been blurred — between the memory of a place, the sense or mood of a place, and the true geographical features of our natural environment. Delicate layering and subtle changes in hue feel ethereal because they suggest the mountainous terrain but aren’t hard, sharp, or solid, which is how the environment could feel in reality.”

Ever since she started painting at high school she was drawn to landscapes, often sitting at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens, and inspired by the Expressionist and Impressionist masters, capturing the scenes with vivid colour and strong marks. “As my own style developed it became more abstract and less about depicting a place topographically but rather the mood and feel of what I’ve viewed,” she tells us.

‘Blush Haze’, acrylic on canvas, 1200 x 1200mm.

Greer’s latest body of work, Sense of Place, will be exhibited at Parnell Gallery in July, and highlights her evolving style, in which her paintings offer an identity; a depth of connection to place, as imagined by the viewer.

“The sense of a place is built from so many elements. Individual experiences and circumstances influence how we feel in that space, whether it’s who you are with, what occurred in the time before you arrived, how you got there, nostalgic connections, time, the history and meaning of a place, etc. All of these influences can shift and abstract our sense of a place and what we recall, more so than the factual or topographical features of the landscape. I want to offer the viewer a space to explore and expand on their experience within a familiar, but not too familiar, landscape,” Greer says.

“The show’s title, ‘Sense of Place’, touches on this notion of the familiar, that the viewer can identify with the work as though it is somewhere they know and belong, comforting and calming while moody and evocative.”

'Sun Gaze', acrylic on canvas, 1200 x 1900mm.

Sense of Place will be on show at Parnell Gallery from 25 July – 8 August 2023.

Latest video features

In the Coromandel, a home with a humble profile and a thoughtful design makes the most of a stunning location.

Built with awe-inspiring attention to detail, this Arrowtown home is a fresh interpretation of a familiar Otago rural vernacular.

This sculptural Northland bach is a perfect north arrow on a remote farm high above the sea.

With the sun on its bow and the community at its stern, this is a house in which the elements are always front of mind.

Trending articles

Design News

Impactful design

The 2024 Readers’ Choice Home of the Year, Sumner House by RTA Studio, is a place of striking proportions and captivating creativity: a powerful response


Open space

Perched atop an escarpment overlooking Whangārei’s town basin, this home is the embodiment of the owners’ vision, the architects’ knowledge, and the builder’s expertise.

Design News

Tangibility and presence

Nine years ago Scott Thorp moved to Christchurch to be closer to the mountains. It was here that he felt most connected to the land,

Design News

Painted heritage

Drawing on eight distinctive New Zealand landscapes, each reminiscent of a particular era in our colour evolution between 1830 and 1930, a new collection from