Hill End is one of the sacred sites of modern Australian art, a gold mining town whose charms only seemed to increase when the ore was gone. Donald Friend was so seduced that he bought a cottage, as did Paul Haefliger and Jean Bellette. Recently Luke Sciberras has continued the practise by becoming a Hill End resident and householder.
It says a lot for the attractions of Hill End that it can hold a personality as gregarious as Luke’s. It says something about Luke’s dedication to his art, and sense of tradition, that he would immerse himself in the life and landscape of this battered little town that provided the inspiration for some of Russell Drysdale’s most celebrated paintings.
And yet, while Sciberras is keenly aware of the artistic legacy of Hill End, his vision of the landscape is a personal one. In his paintings he portrays ravaged fields of clay beginning to meld back into the earth. He takes pleasure in the abstract patterns created by human labour and the healing powers of nature. While Sciberras’s paintings are always recognizable as landscapes, he simplifies forms, turns light and shadow into solid shapes. His works are not apocalyptic like Drysdale’s, they are lyrical, muted and understated. His paintings are not momentos of a vanished boom-town, but a celebration of a countryside returning to life. - John McDonald 2005