Thursday, July 16, 2009


                              One oil on linen 90 x 200 cm 2009
This is the painting I have been working on for the last couple of months and now it is ready for the conversations which will provide its [possible] multiple completions. I have decided to call the painting 'One'. I wanted to create a work which simultaneously captured vastness and intimacy through revealed patterns. I have used the tree-of-life motife to create a 'map' which illustrates connectivity within difference ie: the connectivity being fundamental similarities which underly life [which includes death].

An article in The Guardian newspaper entitled 'Can Artists Save The World', by Paul Arendt struck me as timely. The article discusses the plethora of art, in the broadest sense, which deals with 'issues' such as the environment and climate change. He says, 'Artists' attempts tend to fall into two categories. There is the celebratory work reminding us how nice nature is; and there is the dystopian approach, which paints a stark picture of humanity's future.'

I have thought about this question of 'issue' driven art for awhile. Readers of my BLOG would recognise that at one level I am a quiet activist, but I am very careful to steer well clear of the didacticism I perceive in a lot of contemporary culture. For example I do not see the point in recreating or reminding people of disaster when the popular media does such a great job at it. Some contemporary art is trapped in an unwitting complicity with the popular media which stalls art's potential potency to penetrate the psyche at deep levels. Some of this 'dystopian' imagery falls prey to 'black' decor desires, and thus propels itself to what is considered the unforgivable fate of the 'pretty picture' ie: decoration!

I have written on this BLOG before about my thoughts on 'positive or celebratory' art. All may not be as it seems! Modern aptitudes in deciphering symbols, meaning and context are scarily limited especially as visual literacy skills are determined or honed by mass media and didacticism [especially in a lot of children's literature]. I am aware that there is a 'pretty picture' element in the artworld. However, I choose to paint what could be called utopian images, but with a conscious acknowledgement that disaster, pain, suffering exist or are all immanent. By consciously eliding the negative, it exists in absentia in my work.

'Reminding us how nice nature is...' is not my goal. Simple 'reminder' is not effective or potent because it does not necessarily cause change either within or without. I hope my work engenders, through the conversations it stimulates with oneself or others, a potential for discovery of something new. As readers of my BLOG are aware, I am intensely interested in perspective especially as a metaphor for how we view ourselves and others. The possibility of finding new perspectives and/or experiencing multiple perspectives simultaneously are far more exciting... and scarey than simple 'reminder'. Living locally in an increasingly globalised world is also exciting and scarey....but heightened perspectival abilities will make the dance of distance between the global and local far more fun and productive.

Can artists save the world? No artists alone cannot save the world, but maybe art's agency can contribute to the collective endeavour through stimulating the kind of wonder and imagination that uncovers new ways of doing things. Where does 'reminder' of good or bad fit here?

Now to my MUM, Elsie Brimblecombe who is having a solo exhibition called 'Invisible Cities' inspired by Italo Calvino's book by the same name. The exhibition will be at the Upfront Club, 31 Maple St, Maleny, Queensland, Australia opening August 27 @ 6 pm. The exhibition will continue until September 22.

Below is one of my Mum's paintings The City of Euphemia. It is acrylic on canvas and about 60 x 40 cm.


Sam Holland said...

I believe that one person, via the media they produce (like art) can indeed save the world. One person (like yourself) through their positive media can touch enough people that consensus flips...

Keep it up Kathryn, you are a great help! :-)

wayne said...

It is becoming a ritual when I come home from a particularly hard day at the chalk face, to visit your blog (and other places) be reminded that their are other sensitive, thoughful souls out there who work though their ideas in the studio. Very reaffirming after swimming in the 'shallow' end all day.
Today was a bonus seeing your mum's work Kathryn

Wayne said...

Sorry about my spelling I must learn to proof-read before hitting publish!

Wayne said...

Sorry about my spelling I must learn to proof-read before hitting publish!

Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox said...

Dear Sam and Wayne,
Thank-you for visiting my BLOG. I burst with glee when someone makes a comment! Not only just commenting but reading my BLOG posts too. Glad you both find them thoughtful and Sam, potentially adding to the 'flip'...

Mum's exhibition is very exciting. She has 57 paintings in the series, but only about 20 will be hung. All together they are like jewels

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