Monday, June 29, 2009


That's Life Oil on linen 55 x 80 cm 2006

Everything Is Cyclical Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm unframed 2009

Recently something spun into my head about the actual form of perspective as a metaphor for how we view ourselves and others. A predominantly western view would be that it has a linear appearance and action. Yet, the world is not linear even if our thoughts have been trained that way.

I am toying with my thoughts on a spherical but not necessarily static type of image of the action and appearance of perspective. When we think of horizons we tend to think of them in our line of sight, yet thay exist all around us even when we cannot see them...except of course with our mind's eye or imagnation. And, it is with these capacities that we can also 'see' beyond the horizons. As readers of my BLOG know I love playing with perspective in my work, asking the viewer to question space and distance, both as literal experiences as well as metaphorical ones.

I have written about the contemporary stage as being one which exists between the 'wings' of the global and local, yet this suggests a more linear experience which does not fully encapsulate how I imagine perspective in this globalised world in which we live locally. But, I had a 'Ah Ha' moment when I imagined a theatre in the round with the 'wings' existing at any and all points. These 'wings' can move in and out at will or at random [or seemingly so]. This stage at its most micro level would exit within us as we contemplate and reflect upon experiences whether they be in the physical world or other. As we develop skills in perspective I believe our horizons are pushed further, whether they be at vast distances or close ones. And, as these horizons move we become less fearful of what might be beyond the horizons.

In my last BLOG I quoted JK Rowling from her 2008 Harvard Alumni Association presentation entitled The Fringe Benefits of Failure And The Importance of Imagination . The quote is, ' The willingly unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.’

I really like this quote. Without imagination or tapping into our mind's eye our horizons contract and can swallow us with fear.

The two paintings above are about circles, cycles and spheres. In 'That's Life' the tree-of-life splays out with positive and negative circle shapes above and below it. These circles could be seen as perspective turned inside out. They could also represent the 'contemporary stage' in its most fulsome presence ie: multi dimensional. "Everything Is Cyclical' is a newer work essentially dealing with water, yet a drop of water has a form like I imagine our contemporary stage to be. It moves, it can collide with other drops or separate itself, it can penetrate, it can soften and enmass it is awesome.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Seeping Into The Intimate Vastness Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2008

On Wednesday of this week I made a presentation at the annual King's College Foundation business breakfast . King's is a men's residential college at the University of Queensland. I was able to choose my topic which was 'Perspective: In a Global World In Which We Live Locally'. I spoke about art's agency as catalyst for experiencing perspective or multi perspectives. I suggested that this is achieved by inviting the viewer to literally move back and forth [replicating the moves an artist makes], but also to stimulate conversation whether it be with others or internally with oneself. Conversation is a 'movement' back and forth as participants 'see' and hear another person's point of view, perspective or story.

I suggested that in this increasingly globalised world in which we live locally, it is imperative that we all appreciate the vast scope perspectival dexterity has in helping us negotiate this contemporary life. With this kind of dexterity comes compassion for ourselves and others.

Space and Time Oil on linen 80 x 100 cm 2001

The elments needed to develop perspectival dexterity are things like imagination, judgment, confidence, open mindedness, empathy. Yet, the one element I see as the most pivotal is imagination, because it is imagination which allows us to put ourselves in another person's shoes.
I quoted JK Rowling from her speech The Fringe Benefits of Failure And The Importance Of Imagination made in 2008 for the Harvard Alumni Association, ' ‘Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.’

In the same speech KJ Rowling also said, ' The willingly unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.’ I used this to augment the imperative we have to grasp skills which allow us all to live freely, fulfilled and compassionately in an increasingly global world in which we individually live locally. I suggested that those who cannot imagine how to embrace the contemporary 'stage' which exists between the 'wings' of the local and global are destined to see more monsters because fear grips them. One only has to think of the regimes [amongst others] in North Korea and Zimbabwe where unhealthy self interest and conscious ignorance of the world outside have created the kind of monstrous events and fears that have been and are indeed hard to imagine.

I have uploaded the two images above, one painted in 2001 and the other in 2008 because they are both about water. In my presentation at King's College I used my series on water [previously written about on this blog] to illustrate a couple of things. One was that water and its use are local and global issues and easily understood as such. The other is that water has the capability of being a vast mass yet also a drop, thus providing a living example of fluid connection between the micro/local and macro/global . Water can seep into the smallest and most intimate of spaces, but a deluge has a tipping point where is can become a saviour or a disaster. With all of this in mind our bodies are also %70 water.

Seeping Into The Intimate Vastness is an ambiguous 'landscape'. The tree-of-life seems to embrace or wrap the 'scene' with its vein like red branches. Its vascular-like appearance is 'Life' and indeed water systems, whether natural or manmade, are life giving. There is a general feeling of wetness and water about this painting. In the flesh it also has an almost 3d appearance as if things are swollen or sodden.

Space and Time painted in 2001 reveals an earlier interest in water. Sheets of red 'rain' fall from the sky on the edges of multiple horizons. I lived for many years in western Queensland where rain would tantalisingly appear at the edge of sight. This was particularly evident when driving west along lonely highways with the distance colliding with me and my car, but never reached.

Monday, June 15, 2009


The gouache on paper above is from my ongoing exploration of 'water'. It is called 'Water Harvesting' taking from the actual term 'water harvesting', which means irrigators collecting [or harvesting] by pumping water from a river or water system once the height of the water has reached a certain limit.

Like many of my paintings this image is ambigious. Is it a landscape of sky, midground and foreground? Is it a cross section? Is it an earial view of a river and surrounding land? This image is very like my previous post 'Currency Of Water' on June 1 this year. It poses similar questions about the tension between the natural flow of water and humankind's need to syphon from its flow. The tension is not only environmental but also financial. Wealth created by abundant supplies of water, its allocation, its storage, its industrial and agricultural uses is immense.

I have painted the top section with the word 'rain' and the bottom section with '$' signs. The mid section or 'river' has circles of words which represent dams, damming or water storages. These circles also represent the cycles of nature, but also play on the stock market term describing commodities as cyclical.

This image also 'speaks' about my interest in perspective. The ambiguity created by the possibility of multiple and simultaneous perspectives embraces all the many and various viewpoints stakeholders have about water and its usage. Water is a local and a global issue. And water itself can seep into the most intimate spaces as well as being a vast mass.

Water Harvesting gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2009

Saturday, June 06, 2009


The work on paper above is called 'Truth' and it part of my series on water which I have previously written about on this BLOG. It is an image of the Aral Sea, a saline lake located in Uzbekistan and Kazakstan, both previously part of the former Soviet Union. In 1960 the Aral Sea was the world's fourth largest lake, the size of Southern California. The blue mass on the left is the Aral Sea in 1989, the divided mass on the right is the sea in 2003.

In the past few decades there have been drastic changes brought about by agricultural and industrial activities. The Aral Sea's volume has deceased by 75% with its surface area by 50 percent. The shoreline has receeded up to 120 km from its former shore.

I have written text copied from Wikepedia which is 'the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.' The text comes from the entry on the Aral Sea. I have called the painting 'Truth' to comment on the veracity of information provided by internet sources such as Wikepedia and the increasing use of it as a source of information. The entry on the Aral Sea reads authoratively, but with so much information available today on the internet, how do we really know? The entry on the Aral Sea has changed since I painted this image earlier this year, which is in keeping with the Wikepedia philosophy.

Yet, satelite photographs of the Aral Sea reveal the truth that it has drastically diminished over a relatively short time. I found other photographs as well as those on Wikepedia. These amazing photographs, taken from a vast distance, hit you in the stomach with the visual information they provide. Written information about details does not have quite the same impact. However, the two together provide an imperative to do something about the situation.

This painting again deals with my interest in the macro and micro, global and local and our need to develop flexible perspective of ourselves and others. How can we move back and forth from a macro perspective to a micro perspective when we live locally in an increasingly globalised world? Indeed, is it possible to have both close and far perspectives simultaneously? How can we ensure healthy self interest [ie: local] benefits the whole world?

Truth Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009


This work on paper is a new painting 57 x 114 cm unframed. It is a continuation of my interest in water which I have previously written about on my BLOG. Text in the image is the word 'rain' and $ signs. I wanted to create a tension between the manmade and the natural. The manmade being the exchange of money for the use of water and the natural being that which falls out of the sky at the will of...who knows! It is out of our control whether it rains or not. Yet, the control of water is a major issue for contemporary society.

I wanted to create a feeling of tension also because rivers want to flow towards the sea yet along the way the water is pumped, harvested and dammed. Whilst the natural flow is one way man pulls the water in other ways. Hence the river like shape across the middle of the image and the text pulling it away from its flow. Yet, the painting could be a landscape of ground, mountains and sky with rain falling from black clouds.

Readers of my BLOG know that I like to play with ambiguous landscape. Yet, my work is not about landscape... it is about perception, perspective and distance. As a child I 'knew' I could fly. I knew what my parent's farm looked like from above even though I had not flown in a plane above it. I still remember the feelings I had when I 'flew'. The 'experience' I had as a child has influenced my work yet it is only in the last few years that I have realised my work is not about landscape but about deeper perspectives. I think this realisation has happened because I now have the benefit of the perspective of a reasonably long past which I can reflect upon, pull apart and 'see' things I could not see when I was younger.


PS. If you click on the image it will be large on your screen and then you can see the text a bit better.