I was halfway through this nude study when the local community at Point Nepean, at the far end of the Eastern side of The Rip, won their campaign against the (former) State Government to overdevelop something which is already pretty wonderful.
I started from a life model back in summer, working under Marco’s kindly guidance and then went muddling along in the shed. By the time I became aware of what the painting was up to – she had started to mould herself out of the canvas, perching between the sea and sky.
As the painting went on, the promontory started to cut itself out (I had Point Nepean in my mind as a vague memory but this is not a true landscape) and I found Aphrodite teetering precariously on this ledge, unwrapped from her sea cloak and celebrating her view of Port Phillip Bay.
In Homer’s Iliad Aphrodite is the daughter of Zeus and Dione and is regarded as the Goddess of the People and the Earth Mother – so her place at Point Nepean is well placed. The retreating boat possibly represents the developers heading back to the West where development goes on…
However – in Hesiod’s version Aphrodite had a more non-conventional birth as the daughter of Uranus and had a fairly racy love life.
..’Cronus severed Uranus’ genitals and threw them behind him into the sea. The foam from his genitals gave rise to Aphrodite (hence her name, meaning “foam-arisen”), Hesiod states that the genitals “were carried over the sea a long time, and white foam arose from the immortal flesh; with it a girl grew.” The girl, Aphrodite, floated ashore on a scallop shell. This iconic representation of Aphrodite as a mature “Venus rising from the sea” (Venus Anadyomene) was made famous in a much-admired painting by Apelles, now lost, but described in the Natural History of Pliny the Elder.