Womerah Lane: Lives and landscapes (Tom Carment, Giramondo)
Tom Carment’s Womerah Lane is a lively and pensive personal history, chronicling 30 years of life and art from one of Australia’s most well-known landscape artists. Taking an episodic, essayistic structure, the book sees Carment examine how everyday encounters, family folklore and the nostalgia of things have informed his painting and his creative identity. These retellings range from the sudden and unsettling shooting of a downstairs neighbour to a sinister encounter with a man hiding out in the bush. Womerah Lane excels at capturing the underlying absurdity of many of our most ordinary moments. Illustrating the book are Carment’s lush, colourful paintings, which hint at these contradictions—the quotidian and the strange—with their unfocused perspectives implying a kind of ambivalence to the reader. As Carment comments at one point, ‘I sometimes worry that it’s a sort of curse that I put on my subjects, the curse of my attention.’ The perspective Carment offers across these essays is not one solely focused on his personal history but a larger reflection on subjectivity and human experience, anchored in a life as a roving and probing artist and observer. Womerah Lane is a rich study of contrasts, likely to appeal to readers with an appetite for Australian biography, the arcane of the everyday and the many (sensory) pleasures of landscape artwork.
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer