Halinka Orszulok is an artist and curator living on the South Coast of NSW. Since obtaining her Masters degree from Sydney College of the Arts in 2002, Halinka has consistently shown her work in group and solo exhibitions. In March 2020, her solo exhibition, ‘Black Bob’s Creek’ was held at Wollongong Art Gallery. Halinka has been the curator of two exhibitions, in 2019 ‘Uncertain Territory’ was curated for Artbank, an exhibition examining our multi-layered relationship to landscape as a conceptual space. In 2021 ‘False Sense of Security’, was shown at The Lock Up in Newcastle. A finalist in the Fishers Ghost, Sunshine Coast, Paddington, Fleurieu Biennale and Sulman art prizes, in 2018 Halinka was the winner of the Glover Art Prize with her work ‘Ponies’. Her work has been collected by Artbank, Gadens Lawyers and the University of Wollongong.
The title reflects the historical barrier of the Great Dividing Range that not only marks a change in landscape, but delineates a shift in perspective with regard to land use, resources and community. On its western side, communities and infrastructure only exist because of certain industries, and the connection between production in regional areas and urban life on the eastern side of the range can be invisible. Traditionally, this divide is a deeply political one. The sites Halinka visited to create this work divulge stories of the relationship between people and the land out west since colonial settlement.
Halinka’s paintings represent uncanny night-time environments that are ambiguous, contradictory and often unacknowledged, like the unhomely home or the landscape that belongs to neither nature nor culture. Taking photographs at night and then painting them onto canvas imbues the resulting images with an eerie stillness, for while photography speaks of a fleeting moment, painting and the hours of labour involved lend the image the presence of a solid, fixed object. There is the sense of a fragmented narrative, a moment before and a moment after that remain unseen, leaving the viewer to respond according to their own feelings and subconscious associations. These are as much psychological spaces as physical ones. Recent work has been preoccupied with historical layers of use and habitation within the landscape and the ever-present question of ownership and identity reflected there.