When Ned Crossley was a child, he would often imagine what his family’s farm in Woodanilling looked like before the land was turned into paddocks. His genuine curiosity for the land led him down a career path in environmental science and a decades-long career in agriculture. After being made redundant from his job at the time, Crossley decided to explore whether he shared the same creative streak as other members of his family and he enrolled in TAFE to study visual arts. Crossley completed his diploma last year and after receiving the enRICH scholarship from Arts Narrogin, he started working on his first solo exhibition. Over the past year, Crossley has worked on a series of landscape oil paintings for his exhibition, Sense of Country, which is on display at the NEXIS Exhibition Space. “My grandmother was a ceramist and my aunt was quite a successful photographer, so the arts has always been something that I’ve wondered about,” he said. “I guess I would have liked to have explored it earlier but I never did at school because I was told in kindergarten that my drawing was crap. “So that was kind of enough to put me off for a while.” The exhibition features 17 traditional landscape oil paintings which have been grouped into nine bodies of work. Crossley said the exhibition explored his sense of country and connection to the landscapes. “Growing up on the farm I’ve always had a sense for what the bush would have been like before it was turned into a farm,” he said. “Over the years I had occasions to meet Noongar elders and spokespeople for the country, and I read and learnt about the county. I understand that the sense of country that the traditional owners have is different to a Western sense. But I think that we really need to develop a sense of country so that we can reacquaint ourselves or develop a new relationship with the environment.” Crossley said he hoped his work would ignite a curiosity and connection to country in viewers. “I am wondering whether it is possible to convey a sense of country or how do we develop a sense of country, and if we could do that, is it going to help us?” he said. Each landscape scene was inspired by photographs Crossley took on his travels through the Wheatbelt. “So I’ve travelled around the countryside and went and found some amazing places and took lots of photographs with the intention of making paintings with them,” he said. “It’s sort of a foray into the world of oil painting, really, and it’s been quite a long process to work up to it and to internalise the whole concept of it. “And then to actually complete the works, I hadn’t really realised what I was putting myself in for but it’s been a really good process.” The Sense of Country exhibition will be on display at the NEXIS Exhibition Space until December 11.