Mazie Turner 1954–2014
“It's a beautiful, grey day.”
Mazie Turner died of cancer on 7 June 2014. In life she divined colour from the everyday, turning her observational gift into an exhaustive study reaching well beyond surface technique into the core discipline and alchemy of paint. Artist and close friend John Morris observed: “The paintings seemed to appear out of nowhere, each of them waiting along the walls for her to grace them with their next veil of pigment. Little tabs of masking tape would appear on her paintings, her way of working out composition. She never told me how that system worked. It was another mystery to her working process. I never saw her paint.”
Others concurred: Mazie mustered absolute focus, solitude and retreat in the studio, although her hospitality and generosity as a teacher and mentor, and her passionate advocacy within her community, was legendary.
Born Karen Turner in Sydney, she enjoyed a peripatetic childhood in Australia. Awarded an MA and a PhD in 1994 and 2008, Turner’s formal studies began in Adelaide in 1976 with a BFA with a major in photography at the South Australian School of Art. Here Turner developed an interest in feminism, art history and poetry. She also met fellow artist and future husband Richard Tipping with whom she raised three children, Kai, Jasper and Grace. Travel was an important form of enquiry and together they experienced the Australian desert and lived in Europe before returning to Sydney in 1988 and later Wangi Wangi.
Turner’s work is held in public and private collections including Newcastle Art Gallery, The University of Newcastle, the Australian National University, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia.
Mazie’s chromatic abstractions coax us out of sadness, out of shadows. Her opus Out of Darkness (2008–10) exemplifies the dance between art and life’s rich oppositions, the painting’s jewel-like prisms recalling earlier optical experiments and illuminating the eternity of spirit:
“The death of the painter is kept from her paintings.”