Monday, September 28, 2009
This is my latest painting which I have called 'Paradise'. Readers of my BLOG would recognise that it flows from my previous work inspired by the tree-of-life and tree-of-knowledge. My last few paintings have introduced Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden into my visual explorations of the symbolic and metaphysical potential in stories and iconic motifs.
My interest is not in literal interpretations or illustrating history. My interest is in the possibility of gaining emotional, spiritual and conceptual sustenance that is meaningful in this contemporary world in which we all live. I am not interested in prescribing what this meaningfulness is because I believe each person has the capacity and urge to search for their own meaning. Age-old iconic motifs and stories provide a gateway for each person to open and proceed to explore at their own pace and in their own direction. Readers of my BLOG know of my aversion to the didacticism I see and read in some contemporary cultural offerings, particularly children's literature. Didacticism does not provide a gateway with endless pathways. It is more like a cattle crush. [the yards designed to feed cattle or sheep through to be branded, loaded onto trucks etc.]
I have called my new painting 'Paradise' because the Garden of Eden is described as a paradise. It is also described as a temple, thus indicating that it was a place of worship where a personal relationship with God could take place. Many years ago when people asked me where I lived I would often say, 'In my head.' It sounded a lot more interesting than saying Dalby or Goondiwindi! As a child I daydreamt all the time, much to the dismay of my teachers. However, daydreams are an escape to a paradise, a place where everything is possible. I believe that our Garden of Eden [our temple] lives inside us, in our imaginations and dreams. I also believe that some art is the perfect catalyst for imagination and dreaming, especially if it causes a person to ask questions, to wonder and to reflect. As people do these things their abilities to understand metaphor and symbols becomes more attuned. I have previously written about my observation that contemporary society has lost its ability to 'read' symbols and then to extrapolate meaning from them. Visual literacy skills are not just about knowing what a symbol might represent, but also understanding them at a metacognitive level where meaning can be responded to in both an emotional and intellectual [even spiritual] sense.
A painting, by providing just one nano second of a story, does not attempt to complete it, thus the viewer can provide their own pre and post narratives. My new painting could be said to be based on a narrative ie: the story of Adam and Eve, but what I like about stories which are mythic and symbolic, is that the viewer can place themselves into the story. Thus, the narrative becomes a constantly new one, never before written or seen, yet the core of humanity exists as a spine or trunk of a tree. A person returning to a painting which has provided them with an internal emotional/intellectual or spiritual journey can find themselves taken even further on their subsequent viewings. A number of people who have bought my paintings have told me they see something new in the painting they bought each day. I love hearing this, because it means my painting lives rather than decorates.
A visitor to my house this week spent about 3 hours looking at and talking to me about my work. He made a comment which really blew me away. He said, 'You know you'd return from the dead to look at your paintings Kathryn.' WOW! Now this got my imagination going for sure. Lots of ghosts wandering through my house to get their 'fix'. We discussed what he meant, which was that each painting seemed to have endless possibilities for thought and contemplation, and that one idea lead to another and another, thus making it seem unlikely that one lifetime would provide enough time to fully explore. I took this as a great compliment.
Readers of my BLOG also know of my interest in distance and perspective. Stories/myths and a iconic motifs represented in paintings are like single points with endless trajectories for story and meaning in all directions. Horizons exist behind, in front, beside and under, with each horizon once reached revealing another. Indeed, sometimes returning to a previously visited horizon is important. These horizons may be close or far in temporal or spatial distance.
'Paradise' depicts the moment Eve is created from sleeping Adam's rib. Trees grow from Eve's outstretched arms creating a multitude of colour and pattern. Please read my last two or three posts where I have written more extensively about Adam and Eve, a story which is shared by the three Abrahamaic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. My interest with 'Paradise' was to create a sense of the universe, awe, movement, beauty and extra-ordinariness. Surely these are all elements which the temple aspires to achieve. My other interest is the fact that shared stories connect us forever.
I love painting because each work exists as a point/gateway with endless possibilities. The viewer creates these possibilities and in this way quietly and privately extends my work into the collective memory and consciousness.
Paradise Oil on linen 62 x 82 cm 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
It has been 10 days since I wrote on my BLOG. The reason I have been slack is because I have been completely distracted with preparations for my daughter's eighteenth birthday party, which was fantastic too. In between doing the things one does to organise a big party, I have been painting, but the work is not at a stage where I can provide an interesting photo.
So, an email this morning provided me with an opportunity to reload 'Generations' above. The email informed me that this painting has been selected for the 'I Am' exhibition which is aid of the Women's Legal Service here in Brisbane. The exhibition is on 16-18 October. Here is the website http://www.wlsartshow.com.au/
My previous post which 'talks' about 'Generations' is http://kathrynbrimblecombeart.blogspot.com/2008/04/can-one-persons-epiphany-change.html
I was quite chuffed by a few of my daughter's young friends and their comments about my paintings. I had planned that my daughter's party would be completely outside, but when my daughter and I created the largest birthday cake possible we did not think about how to get it out of the house! And, this problem was not alerted to us until one of her male freinds, who had arrived early, decided to measure the cake. No problems I thought...it will fit through the front door and down the steps. So, whilst the party revellers were revelling, a friend and my sister-in-law [who is also a friend] tried to get the cake firstly out the front door and down the stairs to take it into the back garden and the party. But, no, we got stuck half way through the doorway nearly killing ourselves in the process. So, we decided to take it down the internal steps and out through the family room. But, we got stuck again. This time on the steps with the cake slipping sidways off its huge base. Trying to keep this massive cake flat whilst going down stairs required feats of almost gymnastic manipulation which, at slightly! older thean 18, none of us had. I just cannot write descriptively enough to explain just how hilarious our antics were.
So, the only thing to do was to get all the party revellers upstairs to have the Happy Birthday cake cutting, candles and singing thing happening. Well, the big bonus for me was that because these young ones had the opportunity to come inside the house 3 of my daughter's friends made great comments about my paintings and wanted to know more.
So, until my next post...I am in a state of recovery.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
"She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him." [Jamieson-Fausset Brown Bible Commentary]
The quote above inspired my newest painting. I wanted to create an image which clearly 'spoke' of the story of Adam and Eve but also embraced the sentiment of the quote, which I believe deals fundamentally with the male and female relationship, plus more deeply delves into the question of opposites and duality. There is no indication of either sex being better than the other, yet they are not the same.
The uniting of seemingly opposite forces creates an equilibrium which I have tried to capture with the 'meeting' or crossover of the two trees. These trees are [as regular readers of my BLOG will identify] my transcultural/religious tree-of-life. The story of Adam and Eve is one which is shared by the three Abrahamaic religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It is through shared stories that a forever connectedness exists between these religions. The tree-of-life is a symbol which is shared more broadly throughout many religions and cultures and does not need any simple explanation. Yet, it can assist in the journey to very complex and deep investigations of meaning and spirituality. This is the power of symbols and myth. Unfortunately, the contemporary world in which we live has lost an ability to understand symbols, preferring to replace deep investigation of meaning with superficial visual literacy skills that merely enable people to decipher logos, advertising ploys, jingles etc. These latter skills are certainly important, but there is another layer where metacognitive skills are essential, but seem arrested.
In my new painting Adam is asleep because in the story he is made to go to sleep so his rib could be extracted in order to form Eve. There is some suggestion that due to no mention of him being awakened [as there was about him going to sleep] that he actually never wakes up, thus leading to the thought that, in essence,'we' are Adam's dream. I won't go into this in detail, but I think it is an interesting thought, as a metaphor, to ponder.
The 'meeting' of the two trees forms a subtle almond shape akin to the sacred yoni. I have written about this in my previous post 'In The Garden Of Eden'. The scared yoni is a salute to the sacred feminine or rather the presence and power of the feminine along side of the masculine. Please read my previous post to see my thoughts about this.
Now to something which might appear to be completely divergent! I am reading 'A Whole New Mind' by Daniel Pink [Thank you Ron for the suggestion!]. I have not finished it, but Pink's observation that the primacy of left brain thinking is being diluted by the acknowledgement of the importance of right brain thinking is very interesting and makes me feel my time has arrived! I can certainly conform to situations where left brain thinking is required...that's why I did well at school, but it almost killed me! However, my natural and most enjoyable thinking certainly comes from my right brain. And, at times or when necessary having both sides work together is very satisfying. As I have been reading this book, my tree-of-life images appear in my head, especially these latest ones where they meet and cross over to create a denser and more complex 'system'. Now, to me, this is the perfect analogy for the mutual workings of the left and right sides of the brain. I know the two sides cannot literally or pysically cross over...mush time if that happens...but thinking can create a crossover with an abundant potential to generate amazing thoughts, imaginations, inspirations plus outcomes, processes and 'stuff'! So how rich, in all ways, is that?!
Monday, September 07, 2009
Flying Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2004
Hot Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm 1995
Following on from my last post, I have uploaded a couple more older paintings. I had hoped to post an image of my very latest painting, but I have only just finished it [like right now!] and will not get around to photographing it until tomorrow. It is 10 pm and I am ready for sleep.
These two paintings are about flying. The first one was painted after I left Goondiwindi [small rural town in western Queensland] and moved to the 'big smoke' of Brisbane. The woman flying is a bride and her shadow on the ground follows her. Readers of my BLOG would know that as a child I dreamt I could fly...and it was not just a night time dream, but an experience I had both at night and during the day. I knew what my parent's farm looked like from above even though I had never been in a plane above it. This experience of 'flying' has obviously influenced my need to experiment with different perspectives in my work.
I was a young bride when I moved to Goondiwindi and my mother was a young bride when she moved to the family farm outside Dalby. In fact, there have been many young brides in my family who have moved to live in rural Australia. The men marked the land literally with their fences, roads, dams, ploughed paddocks etc. But, the women leave markings which are more about the fabric of the community. They leave their spirit in a different way to the men, who also leave their spirit inbedded in the earth with their sweat and in many cases their tears.
The young bride above seems to hover above the land with the horizon enticing in the distance. Over this horizon there maybe other horizons, but she seems wistful about her present place. Readers of my BLOG know that I use landscape elements as metaphors for our emotional landscapes. The horizon can be interpreted literally or be understood as something which is inside us, a place where we search to know who we are.
The second painting 'Hot' is a more playful image, where the two figures placed against a red background seem to be absorbed into the fabric of the image. I played with the word hot to mean both heat and sexy.