Friday, December 31, 2010


Into The Sensorium Oil on linen 30 x 30 cm

I am writing this on New Year's Eve, and like many people am pondering upon and wondering about the decade past, and the new one which is about to commence. Also, as I write this much of Queensland is flooded, with many towns evacuated, farms water sogged with submerged crops, mines full of water and/or cut off by flooded roads. I have just heard from a friend of mine that Rockhampton airport is closed and will not reopen until well into January. For many people this New Year's Eve is devastating, and my thoughts go out to them.

The beginning of a decade is like a doorway into possibility. When I was a child, my brothers and I would talk about how old we'd be in certain years into the future. I remember at the ages of around 12,10 and 8 in the early 70s, we thought 1990 was just SO far into the future and we'd be SO old!

The painting above 'Into The Sensorium' speaks of that place, I imagine inside the vortex core, where stillness enables us to listen to things we did not know we could hear, see things we did not know could be seen and feel things we did not could be felt. Sensorium means 'the sensory apparatus or faculties considered as a whole' [Oxford online]. With this meaning in mind, I 'see' the vortex core as a place where sentience is about simultaneous knwoings, where we can absorb all and BE still with ourselves, and all of humanity.

Regular readers will identify my transcultural/religious tree-of-life motif which 'speaks' of life on Earth, and beyond to cosmological realms and spiritual worlds, both vast and intimate. The spiral of colourful leaves draws the viewer into the painting...the leaves are simultaneously moments and eons of time. I like the way they 'kind of' dance!

Into The Sensorium will be in my Februrary show 'Vortex: Seeking Stillness At Its Core'.

                               Glimpsing The Truth Oil on linen 30 x 30 cm

Glimpsing The Truth is again my vision of being inside the vortex, at its core. Yet, a bit like Dr. Who's Tardis, once inside the vortex core, one realises that size, distance and perspective are no longer relevant...or at least how we humans judge them with our limited line-of-sight. This painting refers to another recent painting called Multiverse, where I have painted a tree with intermittent small portal like 'holes' or 'vortexes'. Each one of them suggests the possibility of other universes and new dimensions. Glimpsing The Truth is like a close up of one of the small portals in Multiverse.

Whilst the idea of other universes 'out there' is exciting and stimulating, the search for 'universes' can also be about discoveries within our psyches and souls, both individually and as a human race. Indeed, a search within, reveals that size, distance and perspective have no limits, and thus might need to be conceptually and spiritually re-negotiated...and in doing so reawakened 

22 Feb-6 March 2011, Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthry Rd, New Farm, Brisbane

If you want to see more than one painting at a time, I am gradually uploading images for my exhibition at Twitpic reproduces images really well.

Cheers and Happy New Year,

Glimpsing The Truth will be in my February show 'Vortex;Seeking Stillness At Its Core' .

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Unlimited Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm

Below is the essay written for my 2005 Abu Dhabi exhibition by Holly Arden, Arts Writer and graduate in Art History [Hons First Class] from the University of Queensland. Holly is currently completing her PhD at Monash University, Theory Dept of the Faculty of Art and Design.

The paintings I have uploaded are a few that were in my Abu Dhabi exhibition and that Holly refers to in her essay.

I have uploaded the essay, because in the last few days I have received some very insightful comments from a person, based in Munich, who visited my BLOG and website. He also made insightful comments about Holly's essay.

When Holly showed me the completed essay with an introductory quote from author Andrew McGahan's 'The White Earth' I was astounded...and very pleased! Holly had had no idea that my parent's farm and the McGahan farm were only a few kilometres apart, and that our families have been friends for decades. Our farms were/are at Pirrunuan which is a railway crossing between Dalby and Jimbour, on the Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia. The Pirrinuan and Jimbour Plains are treeless tracks of rich black cracking soil. To the west is an endless flat horizon which shimmers into watery mirages. To the east the Bunya Mountain Ranges cut a sharp silhouette against the vast sky. Here's a link to a Google Map where you can see our farms. My farm is at the top left.,151.237965&spn=0.030044,0.07699&z=14

The White Earth' has received a number of literary awards including; Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for the South East Asia and South Pacific region, The Age Book of the Year (Fiction) and the Courier Mail Book of the Year Award. It was also shortlisted for the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards that same year. Check out these 2 sites:

Holly's 'seeing' of my images in Andrew's words, and her 'reading' of Andrew's prose in my images, spells out the 'magic' foreverness of the vast landscape we grew up in. It also illustrates the power of landscape on the imagination, where the imagination untethers itself from mere replication and description, to stir the vibrational currents that link us all to nature, and thus the impulses of life. The vastness of my childhood landscape gave space to notice the details, to swing from the minutae to the endless, and in doing so unleashed wonder.

Regular readers, who know of my concerns about the Coal Seam Gas [CSG] industry, will feel my distress about the impacts of the influx of coal seam gas mining on the Darling Downs, one of Australia's few prime food producing farmlands.  By puncturing the earth with gas wells, situated about 1 ha apart, not only will there be impacts on the internal health of soils and aquifers, but also on the external landscape. Already, in places where CSG has been active for some time, I have heard of water bores which have dried up, and farmers not being able to find water when trying to establish new bores.

In Holly Arden's chosen quote from Andrew McGahan's book, he refers to 'familiar squares of cultivation' [ie: broadacre farming]. If you have a look at the Google map I linked above you will see an aerial view of what broadacre farming looks like. With CSG, these ' familiar squares of cultivation', will be criss crossed with the all weather access roads which are needed to access every gas well. If you have not seen images of these roads, the pattern on the landscape is like a chaotic web, which disrupts economical and efficient farming practices, creates potential soil erosion issues, subtracts acreage from a farmer's cropping, causes potential problems because of run off [water and vehicular oils etc] onto farming land...etc etc. The landscape will no longer be 'familiar', but more importantly its life sustaining gifts of quality food and fibre will be compromised. Now this is something to be fearful of!

But, this brings me to another question. It is a soul question. What vibrational impact will an internally and externally compromised landscape have on who we are as a race...human race? Yes, over eons, we [human race]  have already changed our landscape in order to feed, house and clothe ourselves. Yet, it seems to me, that this has been a, more or less, evolving process, where we have made mistakes, learnt and changed activity to be more is an ongoing process. But, CSG and the growth of open cut mining in Queensland [and other parts of Australia] are radically, and very quickly, changing our landscape in a way which seems unfetted and diametrically opposed to lessons learnt over the eons. At a forum, on SCG and Open Cut Mining, that I attended at the University of Qld, a few weeks ago, I [and the others in the audience] were appalled when Government and Mining Industry representatives admitted that they did not know the full impact of CSG on the environment, but they'd learn as they go!

Hidden Secrets Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm

Essay By Holly Arden

…at the foot of the hill washed the plains, immediately flat. Close by the land was divided up into the familiar squares of cultivation, but as the eye leapt outwards the colours and shapes merged, fields and farms spreading all the way to the horizons…. On the left marched the blue line of the mountains, and on the right, the land merely extended forever westwards.
- Andrew McGahan, 'The White Earth'

If there is such thing as a cultural psyche, landscape would be a defining feature of it. This must at least be true in Australia, for people of both indigenous and non-indigenous heritage. And it is hardly surprising, given that Australia is four-fifths the size of North America with a population of around 20.4 million. The landscape, vast and for the most part unpopulated, is literally everywhere. ‘The Land Down Under’, ‘The Great Southern Land’: historically, mythologically and psychologically, Australia’s identity is characterised by the distances that mark its interior and separate it from the rest of the world.

As a result, landscape painting has led arguably the strongest course of Australian art. The landscape works of early post-colonial artists evidenced a type of psychological rationalisation of what they encountered in these new foreign lands. Consequently, these were often filtered through a European aesthetic. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists have pictured landscapes that recount stories of the creation of their ancestral lands. In all its forms, landscape art is a means through which artists have situated themselves physically and sensually, culturally and psychologically, in relation to place. As James Baker writes: ‘Landscape art is often a metaphor for…mindsets in that it is also a result of the response to the environment, not just a representation of it.’

What type of response might living in rural Queensland generate? Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox lived for decades in the agricultural communities of Dalby and Goondiwindi in the state’s south-east. The feelings of desolation and loneliness provoked by rural life has left its mark on the work of numerous Australian painters, foreshadowed it seems by the colonial experience. So it comes, perhaps, as a surprise to see the markedly upbeat works in this exhibition. One of the first ways we experience this is through Brimblecombe-Fox’s use of colour: jewel-like blues and fiery reds. Such reds ring true to the deep russet of the region’s soil and are coupled in works such as Life’s Vibration with a vibrant force of energy expressed by lines that vibrate with optic movement. These are scenes quite different to those traditionally pictured, for example, in Russell Drysdale’s desolate brownish terrains.

Secondly, there is a sense of harmony in these paintings achieved partly through the artist’s refined, almost diagrammatic forms. This suggests Brimblecombe-Fox works from a certain level of objectivity or ‘remove’. By ‘remove’ I mean that she is able to view the earth as a natural system and as one part of a much greater whole. Through the working of its ‘parts’, the vegetation that nurtures life, the blood that supports it, the natural world is able to revolve continuously. In a group of paintings that feature a circular earth motif, a network of roots/nerve endings/blood lines service the earth like veins. These connect with a much greater expanse of sky, which puts the earth, quite literally, into perspective. There is something liberating about this and also humbling. In works such as Every Wonderful Possibility, the sky is formed through repeated semi-circular brushstrokes. Traditionally symbolic of harmony and fertility, the circular earth is filled with the roots of life.

A range of rarefied mountain landscapes accompanies these busier paintings. The stylised, patterned forms in these works have a strong graphic quality. The sharp contrasts of the Darling Downs landscape where the artist lived perhaps lend themselves to such picturing. These are places where rain, as in Mountains Dancing, falls in visible sheets and where the mountains, as writer Andrew McGahan describes, “march” on one side, while “on the right, the land merely extend[s] forever westwards.” These are scenes of hard lines or else expanses of coloured nothingness. Then there are the man-made forms, the angular fields and irrigation channels; landscapes which, especially in the harsh light and heat, lend them to abstract rendering. And in the heat of the day, as in Mountains Dancing, there are illusions everywhere, where the luminous blue of the mountains could be mistaken for a gathering of lakes.

Mountains Dancing Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm

The use of abstracted form is also, for Brimblecombe-Fox, a way of translating her impressions of landscape into paint, impressions for which there are not always visual equivalents. None of these works were painted on site. Therefore, by employing a series of ‘motifs’ that might represent a thought or feeling about a place, or through intuitive brushwork, Brimblecombe-Fox maps a personal, inner landscape. A defining marker of the Darling Downs landscape, the mountain is repeated in a varied range of responses to this metaphor for life’s goals and challenges. (And there must be at least one personal mountain here; achieving an exhibition, let alone in another country is one steep climb)! In Metaphor, warmth seems to emanate from beneath the blanket-like covering of the mountain. In Hidden Secrets, the mountains are veiled, elusive and because of this, ever so slightly ominous. In the russet coloured painting, Mountains As Metaphors, the flowing painted line transforms the mountain range into a wave-like abstract form. Floating in an expanse of flat colour it is inaccessible but, with its gentle undulations, its distance causes no anxiety.

Mountains As Metaphors Oil on linen 80 x 200 cm

Mountains As Metaphors demonstrates Brimblecombe-Fox’s distinctive use of abstract graphic form, particularly line. In this work, the line is highly charged, seeming literally to carve the landscape out from a red void. In Earth’s Vibration and Inside The Mirage, multitudes of loose lines suggest a landscape quivering with potential energy. These heavily worked lines are also physical signifiers of the artist shaping the land in paint. In contrast to these more highly composed paintings, a group of gentler, freer works reflects the artist’s fascination with the possibilities of her medium. In Unlimited, for example, Brimblecombe-Fox builds thin washes of paint, allowing these to drip into forms that could be rain-washed landscapes or layers of wood grain.

Inside The Mirage Oil on linen 80 x 200 cm

Informed by vastness and distance, Brimblecombe-Fox’s paintings have an essence of Australia. But aren’t these qualities (feelings, stories) that might also be found throughout the world, in the desert scapes of the Middle East? Thus, while they speak of specific sites, gained through decades of living in rural Queensland, they are not essentially Australian. Part psychological, part allegorical, they have universal resonance. Most refreshingly, while her large canvases hint at emotions such as the fear and loneliness that come with isolated living, Brimblecombe-Fox never allows them to become overly sentimental. Instead, they reflect a mature artist with the ability to balance feeling with resolved, sophisticated approaches to painting this most charged of subjects.
Holly Arden

So, until next time,

VORTEX 22 Feb-6 March, Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
I am thinking of having an 'artist's talk' in discussion with an Art Historian on Sat 26 or Sun 27 Feb. Stay tuned for details.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Multiverse Oil on linen 80 x 100 cm 2010

The painting above was inspired by the postulation that our universe is not the only one, ie: that there maybe others, maybe many others, and thus we are potentially part of a multiverse. This image sprang to my mind when I was reading 'Just Six Numbers' by Martin Rees, Professor of Cosmology at Cambridge University. He wrote, '...the ultimate theory might permit a multiverse whose evolution is punctuated by repeated Big Bangs; the underlying physical laws, applying throughout the multiverse, may then permit diversity in the individual universes.' Rees, M. Just Six Numbers: The Deep Froces That Shape the Universe, Basic Books, NY, 2000 p.174

The image that sprang to my mind is a tree with small portal-like 'windows' or 'eyes' dotted amongst the branches, each created by a kind of swirling or vortex action. These portals are more obvious from a distance, because they interrupt the pattern of the tree. Up close, they are still visible, but the interruption to the pattern is not as obvious. I suppose it is a bit like seeing a peacock proudly unfold its plumage, compared with looking at only one feather. The magnificence of the fanned plummage is breathtaking and patterns are discernible, yet one feather, still beautiful, only whispers.

Regular readers will recognise my interest in close and far distance. I like to stimulate both close and far distance viewing of my paintings as a metaphoric template for the negotiation of the distance/space we experience living locally in an increasingly globalised world. AND, indeed, if there are other universes, and we are part of a multiverse, then skills at 'seeing' multiple perspectives simultaneously will be pretty damn handy, I suspect!

The tree in Multiverse is my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life/knowledge. Its branches weave the fabric of Space, which can also be seen metaphorically as the fabric of our soul. In one nano-second we can propel perceptions from the outer reaches of the imagined universe, to the inner reaches of our subconscious, our psyche, our soul. I love the feeling in my brain when my imagination swings from the outwardly vast to the inwardly intimate, but equally vast in possibility. It's a distance thing! From a soul point of view, the small portals in Multiverse offer potentail conduits to new discoveries about ourselves, new connections to who we are as we reflect upon experiences that have taught us who we are not. With reflection we have the opportunity to answer those questions we did not know we needed to ask! For me, this kind of reflection is the kind that happens in stillness...the kind of stillness one might experience at the VORTEX core.

Multiverse was in my  solo exhibition VORTEX: Seeking Stillness At Its Core in February @ Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Brisbane: Tuesday 22 Feb- Sunday 6 March 2010

Regular readers will know of my very deep concern about the impact Coal Seam Gas [CSG] mining has, and will have, on prime strategic farmland here in Australia. These concerns encompass degradation of water aquifers and soil, to severe impediments to farming practices, pollution and environmental degradation caused by CSG infrastructure and implementation needs and activities. I have written about these issues in previous posts. I have also uploaded the paintings I have created which 'speak' about my concerns. I see the 'madness' as  part of the turmoil in the outer vortex. I just wish the power brokers would take time to be still, to see, hear and feel that even the smallest risk to food producing land, is not tenable.

Business risk cannot, and should not, be used as the arbiter of risk when environmental and life sustaining issues are entwined with business production. A business can take risk, depending on various factors. Indeed a 10-20% [or more] risk is often worth it. But, when dealing with the environment, and food production and quality, even a .05% risk is too much. Risk taken in business is not the same as risk taken with life! It is not scientific!

Please read my last few posts and you'll see some of my 'quiet activism' paintings about water and CSG.

Here are some links to action groups fighting the mad dash in CSG mining.


Monday, December 13, 2010


Finding The Light Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm

I have uploaded some of the paintings that will be in my forthcoming exhibition VORTEX. Here's a short statement I have written for the exhibition:

Solo exhibition exploring vortexes, taking the viewer to cosmological extremes and to intimate spiritual places. The turmoil of the outer vortex, depicted in images of environmental degradation, is balanced by images of the inner vortex where stillness offers a place to listen to ourselves. VORTEX traverses distance by playing with perspective and using the age old trans-cultural/religious tree-of-life as a guiding motif which explores the intimate and vast, both temporally and spatially.

Regular readers of my BLOG will know that I have been writing about vortexes for some time now. The statement above just touches upon some of my thoughts. It is always quite difficult to condense something, one is somewhat obsessed by, into a short statement!

I see VORTEX as being a coherent exhibition with paintings exploring the beauty of stillness at the core of the vortex...and other paintings exploring the turmoil on the outer vortex, particularly in regards to the 'madness' I see happening with CSG mining on prime food producing farmland. AND, regular readers will know my thoughts there!

Yet, my paintings exploring the turmoil of the outer vortex are not ugly...well I don't think they are! I see beauty as offering hope. I cannot see the point in creating more ugliness or reminding people of it in an unrelenting way. There's enough in the mass media to remind us of the plunderous and degrading activities which the human race has inflicted upon the Earth. Image after image, seemingly imploring for enlightened solutions lose their impact after awhile. We become desensitised and in the process we feel neutered, as if the problems are SO huge there is no way we can make a difference. Now.... this is where beauty has the power to uplift as it reminds people of paradise... that if beauty can still exist, even in imagination, the potential to resurrect any 'paradise lost' is still there.

One painting of the 'madness', which will be in VORTEX, is the painting below, called $oils Ain't $oils...Anymore! This painting questions value by using small $ signs to signify water, soil and coal. It's prophecy is not attractive, yet I feel that beauty still stretches its hand out through the turmoil to the viewer, in a way which stimulates hope rather than destroying it.

As I have written a number of times before, I prefer to consciously elide ugliness. This means that ugliness, and all its contingent erosive attributes, exists in absentia in my work, thus negating criticisms of naivity. Indeed, as regular readers of this BLOG know, I have spent many years living in rural Queensland, and whilst I am not a soil or water expert, I do arrive at this point in my life, with decades of practical experience and observations, which are visually parley in my paintings.

I have previously written about beauty

$oils Ain't $oils...Anymore! Oil on linen 70 x 100 cm


The painting at the top of the page 'Finding the Light' and the three paintings below, were all inspired by my imaginatings of what it might be like to be present inside a vortex at its core. The first time I closed my eyes and imagined the stillness, I felt calm. As I have written before, this stillness offers a quiet where we can hear things we did not know we could hear, see things we did not know we could see, and feel things we did not know we could feel. For me this beautiful sentient place is a place of hope, where the human race may find answers to questions it did not know to ask.

Compassion Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm 2010

Colour Of Stillness Oil on linen 100 x 60 cm

                                                                  Hovering At The Centre Oil on lnen 30 x 30 cm


If art can trigger the collective imagination, to take us to places of stillness where hearing, seeing and feeling things we were previously unaware of is possible, then art could be called a superconductor!

Here's an explanation from of what a superconductor literally is:

If art can be seen as a superconductor, we can now think about what might create resistence to render it impotent and inert. Maybe ugliness, in a way which regurgitates mass media's reportage, is one resistor? And, maybe beauty is a potent transistor?

Concepts like this tickle my imagination and have done so for a long time. My Dad is a HAM radio enthusiast and I grew up with electronic bits and pieces, plus our farm was uniquely identifiable by Dad's tall aerials. Our cars were always equipped with HAM radios, Dad made our first TV in the early 60s, and our first record player also. Here's some info for those of you who do not know what HAM radio is.  AND...One of my brothers is in IT and his current specialty is supercomputing.

In another post I will write about art and its potential to be a superconductor for cultural diplomacy. Unfortunately, 'show and tell' type attitudes are resistors. I draw some of my thoughts from my own experiences exhibiting in London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Seoul.

22 Feb - 6 March 2011:  Graydon Gallery, Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Brisbane. I will be at the exhibition daily 10 am -6 pm, so it is a chance for me to chat to people. I had a great time chatting at my exhibition FRISSON in March this year.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010


The Colour Of Knowledge Oil on linen 62 x 82 cm  2010

I've just picked up 'Colour Of Knowledge' from Cleveland, a bayside community near Brisbane. The painting was a finalist in the Redland Art Award. From over 400 entries just over 50 paintings were chosen as finalists. So, I was, and am, very happy to have been chosen. Here's the link to my previous post about this painting

As I have previously mentioned I am reading a book called 'Water' by Steven Solomon. It is a history of water ranging across 5000 years, and it is fascinating. I am just over half way through the book, and it is clearly apparent that those civilisations and societies which harness the power of water, at the same time as honouring it, are the ones that thrive. I suspect the globalised world in which we live, needs another revolutionary breakthrough in how to use, conserve and produce water, because water sustains life through agriculture and hydrating our own human bodies, plus maintaining Earth's biosphere. Yet, current methods of deploying water's gifts, are not coping with agricultural demands and are compromised by climate change, industrial uses and the boom in mining.

I was at a party over the weekend and I mentioned a vision of the future, which I have previously written about on this BLOG. The vision is that in the future my great-great-great grandchildren will be watchingg some kind of emedded entertainment device. They will come across reruns of a quaint little show called 'Masterchef' and as they watch they become obviously more and more confused. They turn to their parents and ask,'What are they doing?'....'Cooking what's that?'  If we allow strategic farmland to be compromised by mining, mainly coal seam gas mining, our future may necessitate developing alternative food in the form of internally imbedded nanobot distributers which a rebooted with nutrients and sensations once every 12 months!...NOW! I'd much prefer alternative fuel to be developed before we need alternative food. But, a few of my fellow party goers offered some 'bright side' comments to my proposed vision. Imagine grocery shopping, no teenagers complaining that there's nothing to eat, dieting made easy becasue there's no temptation, no cleaning up, no kitchen! Mmmmmm... not so enticing really, although I do loathe grocery shopping and I am not such a crash hot cook, but I do like eating.

So, my vision got me thinking a bit deeper, and 'Colour Of Knowledge' kinda fits in with these thoughts. The painting talks about the metaphor provided by the trans-cultural/religious story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. For me, Adam and Eve, represent humanity. In the painting Eve is connected to Adam as she takes from the tree-of-knowledge. They are not separate, because prior to taking from the tree they did not see their nakedness/separateness, hence I have painted them white to indicate a white light where no colour [representing antimonies] exists. The promise of the Garden of Eden seems to be lost, but maybe not! Maybe upon taking frome the tree, humanity unleashes all the sentient joys of being human, axiomatically including antimonies, such as 'good' and 'error'. Without antimonies we cannot discover who we are not, in order to understand who we are. For me, the promise of the Garden of Eden [Paradise] is here and now, both outwardly in the existence of Earth's wonder and inwardly in the depths of our souls. However, have we noticed?

My preparations for VORTEX, solo exhibition 22 Feb -6 March at Graydon Gallery continues. Here are a couple of the paintings which will be in the show.

Compassion Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm 2010

Galaxial Landscape Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm 2010

And just a reminder that a painting is a great gift at any time! Please check out my Christmas 'gallery' on my website where I have uploaded some ideas for Christmas ranging in prices from a couple of hundred $.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

$oils Ain't $oils...Any More!

$oils Ain't $oils...Any More! Oil on linen 70 x 100 cm 2010

This is the painting I wrote about, and uploaded a detail photo of, in my last post. Everything, apart from the sky and the sheets of rain in the distance, is painted with small $ signs. Now...regular readers of my BLOG will know that I often use $ signs in my work, to pose questions about how we 'value' those gifts, such as water, which sustain life.

With this painting I am posing questions about how we value our soils. I was inspired to paint this image after attending a public forum 'Environmental Implications of Coal Seam Gas and Coal to Liquid Projects' at the University of Queensland. The two soil scientists who spoke on the panel at this forum, both categorically stated that soils, of the types on the Darling Downs, cannot be rejuvenated after any kind of degradation caused by mining or any other activity that can severely affect soils.

I grew up on the rich black soil Pirrinuan Plain which is about 11 miles/18 km outside Dalby. The Jimbour Creek separates the Pirrinuan and Jimbour Plains. These treeless plains hold the deepest topsoils in the southern least that's what I was lead to believe as I grew up. But at nearly 40 ft/ 12.2 m deep I suggest that if they are not the deepest, then they are certainly amongst the deepest. The soil is black, it cracks when it is dry and turns to thick mud when it is wet. Here's a link to a map showing my parent's farm.,151.232665&spn=0.007512,0.019248&t=h&z=16

 I remember playing in the thick mud and loving it. As my brothers and I played the mud would become soupy the more we pummelled it and slid into it. No vehicle could travel more than a few metres in this mud before being bogged without hope of escape. This soil could grow anything and my father, and his father before him, grew crops of wheat, sorghum, maise, sunflowers and oats.

This is a photo of me and my two brothers on a swing our Dad made for us. Notice the flat horizon. My Mother created a park/garden and in this photo you can see the beginnings of it.

This is a photo of my 2 brothers standing against the edge of a wheat crop and my Mother standing in the middle of the crop. Notice the black soil ...and the quality of the hard category I am sure. Wheat crops don't grow this tall anymore, because with modification shorter varieties are preferred. They are preferred because they're less prone to being flattened by heavy rain, wind, or other strange happenings. If you flick back and forth between these two photos from my youth and $oils Ain't $oils...Any More! I bet you'll see where my vision comes from!

$oils Ain't $oils...Any More! depicts a cross section-like view of a flat horizoned landscape, similar to the one I grew up in. The blue represents underground aquifers, creating the Great Artesian Basin which straddles the hidden depths of around 22% of Australia. There are two layers of aquifers, the deep Artesian Basin ones and those closer to the surface. The dark colour represents coal and coal seams, the red/brown colour represents rock, and the darker brown is the soil which grows our crops and pastures, both supplying food for our tables.

The strips of rain in the distance are symbols of hope. I have spent many hours driving into the relentless distance of western rural Queensland, hoping that strips of rain glimpsed afar were watering my part of the world. Yet, these strips, like the rest of the 'landscape' are ambiguous. At first glance they may appear to be some kind of construction, tanks or towers conjuring thoughts and fears of a landscape dotted with burdensome infrastructure.

The red vein of small $ signs, flourishing across the sky, refers to another painting with a similar theme. Lifeblood also depicts a vein of $ signs gesturing across the sky. Here's the link to the post I wrote for Lifeblood  The vein in $oils Ain't $oils...Any More! speaks of the same things ie: that water is the lifeblood of the earth, that is is intrinsically important to maintain fertility and soil viability. I feel the vein in $oils Ain't $oils...Any More! seems to pulse more rapidly than the one in Lifeblood.  I suspect it is because its sky is far from languid with its thunderous, stormy and turbulent undertones witnessing the potential plunder below... paradise lost. 

As regular readers of my BLOG know, I am very interested in deliberately enticing the viewer to move close and far from my work. The small $ signs are not discernible from a distance, but they become evident as the viewer moves closer. For me this movements begs the question, 'Have you noticed?'

I have prepared the backgrounds of two more paintings and by Friday I hope to have started another 'vortex' painting...although I see my 'quiet activism' paintings like $oils Ain't $oils...Any More! as commenting on the madness of the outer vortex. As regular readers of my BLOG know my next solo exhibition is VORTEX. It will open Wednesday 23 feb and continue daily until Sunday March 6 at Graydon Gallery, Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Brisbane.

With Christmas just around the corner, I have made a 'gallery' of suggestions for presents ranging from around $200 to $4000. A painting is a wonderful gift for Christmas...or any time really! Check my Christmas gallery out at

Until next time,

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I am currentlyworking on an oil painting which I am going to call '$oils Ain't $oils...Anymore' [close up detail image below]. Regular readers of this BLOG will recognise that it is another painting inspired by my concern about the influx of Coal Seam Gas and open cut mining in areas of Queensland where prime agricultural land exists. When the painting is finished I will upload a photograph. Here are links to previous posts:

                                          Detail of, as yet unfinished $oils Ain't $oils...Anymore

I attended a public forum 'Environmental Implications of Coal Seam Gas and Coal-to-Liquids Projects' at the University of Qld on Monday this week. The speakers included 2 soil scientists, a hydrologist, 2 Government reps, a mining industry rep, Greens Senator Elect Larissa Waters [also an environmental lawyer], 4 spokesmen from farmer action groups and a lawyer from Dalby.

The soil scientists emphasised that the types of soils, which exist in the threatened areas of the Bowen and Surat Basins, cannot be rehabilitated. Issues concerning water included, across aquifer leekages, unknown outcomes of aquifer fault disturbance, depletion of aquifers, disruped feeder water supplies, salination, silting.
Issues affecting farming practices, and thus viability and efficiency, included above ground pipes and roads to each CSG well, criss crossing farming paddocks. The CSG wells, estimated aroound 40,000, are only around 1 ha apart. Access roads to wells will disrupt farming [ploughing, harvesting etc], disprupt natural water flow across flood plains leading to pooling of water, silting and potential salination. Social, business and health issues were also discussed. One alarming outcome is that farm values will [and have] drop because people will not buy when uncertainty exists. As valuations drop, at some point, triggers for banks to start agitating will happen. The general outcome of the forum, which was expressed very clearly, was that what's happening is 'madness'.

*I am reminded of a quote I have posted before ... by Lord Martin Rees, Royal Astonomer and Professor of cosmology and astrophysics and Master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, from his book 'Our Final Century' . I have previously written about his books' influences on my work.

It may not be absurd hyperbole—indeed, it may not even be an overstatement—to assert that the most crucial location in space and time (apart from the big bang itself) could be here and now. I think the odds are no better than fifty-fifty that our present civilisation on Earth will survive to the end of the present century. Our choices and actions could ensure the perpetual future of life (not just on Earth, but perhaps far beyond it, too). Or in contrast, through malign intent, or through misadventure, twenty-first century technology could jeopardise life’s potential, foreclosing its human and posthuman future. What happens here on Earth, in this century, could conceivably make the difference between a near eternity filled with ever more complex and subtle forms of life and one filled with nothing but base matter.

Martin Rees, Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind’s Future in This Century—On Earth and Beyond (New York: Basic Books, 2003) p.7-8

If you'd like to sign a petition for a morotorium on CSG please visit this link: 

 NOW TO SOMETHING ELSE!  The Donkey by GK Chesterton

I painted the work on paper above when I was 16. It is an illustration for G.K Chesterton's wonderful poem 'The Donkey' [see below]. As a child, I loved this poem and I still do. It was the one I would recite when I had to recite a poem! And, my children have also recited it many times at school, eisteddfods  and so on,

Despite all the difficulties faced by the donkey, he/she holds a wonderful secret...he/she carried Jesus. This is a simple interpretation and other interpretations can delve further into ideas of self worth, overcoming adversity and so on. I like this poem because the 'secret' gives the donkey a sense of peace. The first 3 stanzas speak of turmoil, like the kind I imagine in the twirling, whirling of the outer vortex, aka life. Yet, the donkey's secret 'knowing' provides a sense of peace, as if re-entering the memory propels the donkey to that peaceful place at the vortex core...that place where stillness reveals those things we did not know we could see, hear, feel or touch. Indeed, the poem says, 'I keep my secret still'.

Regular readers of my BLOG will know of my interest in vortexes and that my next solo exhibition will be called 'Vortex'. Here's are 2 links to previous Vortex posts for you,

G.K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

So, until next time!
Cheers Kathryn

Monday, November 22, 2010


                                  Can We Eat Coal For Breakfast?...NO. Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

                                                                       Value Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

These two new works on paper are a continuation of my interest in water. Regular readers will know very well of this intense interest. Please have a look at this previous post, which also has links to other earlier posts

Can We Eat Coal For Breakfast?...NO
Can We Eat Coal For Breakfast?...NO was inspired by a number of things, but two are significant. The first is that about 2-3 years ago I took my youngest child out to Dalby, where I grew up. She had never seen where I came from and I thought it would be a great mother/daughter pilgrimage. On the drive out to Dalby, and as we got closer, I could not get over the number of mounds of coal. In fact, I must have had my head buried in the sand, because up until then, I had not realised the extent and growth of the mining industry in the region. Since that trip open cut mining's  burgeoning partner ie: Coal Seam Gas is also changing the landscape, both externally and internally [underground aquifers].

In the painting Can We Eat Coal For Breakfast?...NO, the two mounds, painted with small dark $ signs, represent coal mounds. The red $ signs underground signify the potency of the soil and the environmental dilemmas confronting citizens of the planet. The white layer on top of the soil and underneath the mounds alludes to the disastrous potential of soil salinization.

The second significant influence for this painting, and its title, was hearing about a grass roots action group called Coal4Breakfast. 

Now to Value which speaks of how we value our land. Soil is not something we should compromise in any form. For me, risking soil quality, should not ever be considered...even a small risk. Soil quality underpins food production, not only now, but into the future, both foreseeable and not foreseeable. Compromising our soils diminishes the quality and amount of produce.

Food in the Future the future...if we don't have food we can always come up with some kind of alternative...pills, intravenous drips, nanobot internal distributors we replenish once a year! Oh what fun... replays of Masterchef will seem like fantasies as our great and great-great grandchildren ask their parents , 'What are those people doing?' ....'Cooking? What's that?'

Tonight [Monday 22 Nov, 2010] there is a public forum at the University of Queensland 'Environmental Implications of Coal Seam Gas and Coal-to-Liquids Projects'
The list of speakers looks impressive.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010


                         The Beginning Of Everything: Remembering Distance Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm 2010

I have been working on this new painting for weeks, full days and into the nights. After looking at this painting, viewers could think I was a little obsessive! Well, that might be the case with this painting! It just kept propelling me and I now feel somewhat lost. This feeling will go, when I start the next painting, which is already percolating in my mind.

The Beginning Of Everything ....where do I start!! Funny question when you think of the title! But, that's just it...the title and the painting pose more questions than answers...not that I think art necessarily does, or should, even try to answer anything. If it had the answers, I think, art would truly be dead.

I had this idea that I wanted to paint an mage which 'spoke' about the beginning, those nano seconds after the Big Bang. What would 'landscape' be like? I wanted to paint an image which gave an impression of those nano instances, but also the presence of whatever it is/was that set it ALL in motion. Coupled with those post-Big Bang nano instances I wanted to paint an image which could be 'read' as that intimate nano-second when each human life begins. Regular readers will know that my interest in the connection between close and far distance, the intimate and vast, the micro and macro, drives my search for a way to open multiple perspectives.

In this painting, I have used my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life motif which cuts its capillary-like branches across the 'landscape' ...from the Universe of outer space and the 'universe' within the womb, to the 'universe' of human psyche. The tree's branches weave their way across the space, which can seem to both inside and outside something...vast and/or intmate. I wanted to give a sense that perhaps we, the viewers, are witnessing something from the edge of a 'happening'...that we are both witnesses and participants.  I wanted to give a sense that the image contained more than it revealed. 

Childhood Landscape
The vastness of my childhood landscape on my parent's farm outside Dalby on the Darling Downs, has influenced my interest in the 'play' between the vast and intimate. Indeed, the vastness meant that one could be both witness and participant, because multiple distances could be seen and felt simultaneously. The relentless blue skies of the daytime turned into the twinkling sheath of the Milky Way at night. The Bunya Mountains, cutting a majestic silhouette in the east, contrasted with the flat treeless horizon in the west. In between this distance there was space to notice the minutiae of life. Things such as the snaking cracks in the black soil, which miraculously closed up when rain turned the soil into thick mud. Things such as grains of wheat scattered on the side of the road, the creeping tendrils of prickle plants, drops of water on leaves, little whirly winds which picked up dust, feathers, seeds.

I remember, as a child, lying on my back on a thick patch of green clover [before the prickle bindis formed] gazing up at the sky. The clover was like a lush bed and the sky seemed full of energy. As a child I remember my grandmother, who lived in town, taking me and my brothers outside her house, at night, to gaze at the stars. My grandmother knew all the constellations and tried to teach us to identify them. She brought the galaxy closer to us with her knowledge. In a sense she gave us the experience of being witness and participant in the 'beginning of everything'.

Visitors from Overseas
My parents, over the years, hosted a number of visitors from foreign countries [India, Germany, UK, Malaysia, New Guinea] and many of these visitors had trouble coping with the vastness of the flat naturally treeless plain landscape of my childhood. The distance frightened them. Even friends of mine from the city had issues with the vastness. I sensed they felt 'on edge'... literally on the edge of something which went beyond just physical experience.

Back to the painting! The larger section on the top right, still depicting the tree, gives a sense of space...both within and without. The red tinged appearance is a deliberate reference to the doppler effect, suggesting that what we see is receding, and thus expanding, at speed away from us. Yet, the blue tinge suggests a movement towards us. The round 'hole' references many things, including but not limited holes, the possibility of other Universes, the stillness at the vortex core, atoms, birth canals, an eye [with all its symbolic meanings], veins...the moon of my childhood memories gazing at the night sky with my grandmother.

Whilst my childhood memories and wonderments have inspired this painting, some of the extra [or coupling] inspirations came from a book I have mentioned before...a fascinating book called 'Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe' by Martin Rees [Basic Books, 2000] Martin Rees is Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, and Master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He also holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal and Visiting Professor at Imperial College London and at Leicester University.

Please check out some of my meanderings on water...its issues are the most serious of this century. You can start here


Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Murray Darling Currency Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

Regular readers will know of my interest in water; its cost, allocation, various uses, infrastructure, entitlements, and so on. Water is a very significant issue in Australia, as it is all over the world. Each locale has its own particular issues, but the overarching ones are about sustainability and equitable access, not only for us now, but also for future generations.

The new painting above is one that has been percolating in my thoughts for some time. As many readers will know, the Murray Darling Basin and its water, having attracted major debate and argument over the years, are currently under another review. This is generating even more heated debate between the various players, including farmers, government departments, basin townships. The debate also obviously touches the wider community through the environmental, economic, social and business ramifiactions of any review that sees water allocations for agricultural use restricted. Here's a link to the Murray Darling Basin Authority website

But, to the word 'currency' which I have previously discussed in an earlier post;  I have called this new painting 'Murray Darling Currency' to suggest not only the currency/flow of water, but also the currency/flow of money which is generated by the economic outcomes of this vastly rich resource. As well, there is the idea that this issue is current, thus 'currency' is also about notions of contemporaneousness with other allied and non-allied issues of national and global importance. The word 'currency' also alludes the Murray Darling's power to generate political currency.

Now to the painting...the dark blue area in Australia's bottom right is the demarcation of the Murray Darling Basin. I have painted it with an array of small blue $ signs. From a distance they are not clearly discernible, but when observed up close, they are clearly visible. Regular readers will recognise that this play with close and far distance/perspective asks questions about how much do we notice, and ultimately care about and value. Australia and its surrounding oceans are painted with my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life, to indicate that life is interconnected and that perhaps notions of value include, but are far more than $ value.

The painting below 'GAB: Great Artesian Basin', is another recent painting which is similar to 'Murray Darling Currency'. Here's the link to the post I wrote with some thought about this 'GAB: Great Artesian Basin':

I am reading a book called 'Water: The Epic Struggle For Wealth, Power, and Civilization' by Steven Solomon [Harper Collins, NY, 2010]. I have not yet finished...indeed not even half way through. It is fascinating. I knew as soon as I started reading this book, that its incisive message was going to be that we need to take water seriously...very seriously. I quote from the prologue, 'The lesson of history is that in the tumultuous adjustment that surely lies ahead, those societies that find the most innovative responses to the crisis are most likely to come out as winners, while the others will fall behind. Civilization will be shaped as well by water's inextricable, deep interdependence with energy, food, and climate change.' [p.5]

Hopefully political currency will not blind powerbrokers to the extreme importance decisions about water will have, not only for us now, but also for future generations. Just like the human body, our planet Earth  is 70% water. However, only 2.5% of this water is fresh, and a small % of this is accessible. [Solomon p.9, 12] As I have written before, water is so much more than just a substance which keeps us and Earth physically alive. It is also a primordial symbol of the continuation and flow of life over time eternal. It is a symbol of the subconscious, and as such, holds secrets we are yet to discover. Now that's some kind of currency!


Thursday, November 04, 2010


                                         Heaven and Earth Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm

I am still working on the big oil painting I mentioned in my last post. I think I will call it 'The Beginning'... or something like that. I wanted to create an image that revealed that nanosecond after the Big Bang, or the glimpse of a new universe meaning that ours is not the only one, or at a cellular level...the moment of conception. Anyway, I'll just have to see how the painting evolves. This may seem a bit odd, but I never know what a painting will finally look like, until the instant I decide it is finished.

In the process of evolvement I go through a variety of emotional and intellectual realms. There are moments where I feel completely dejected, because I feel the painting is just not working out. Yet, I know that when I this happens, I must walk away. And, this is what I do. I walk away, but before I do, I place the painting in a position where it is the first thing I see when I re-enter my studio. Upon re-entering, it is absolutely amazing how often I see a painting with new eyes and an inspiration to resolve my disquiet will pop into my head. Sometimes, my 'new eyes' cannot see why I thought I had a problem at all!

Now, these 'new eyes' are very handy to have...but I would not have them without walking away. Creativity is not just about doing, it is about thinking as well. These two things can happen either separately or simultaneously. And, thinking is not about trying hard, it is about letting insights and seemingly random thoughts rise into consciousness. I often find that these gems rise much more rapidly when I go for a walk! Then I have to try hard to make sure I remember them when I get home!

                                              Prayer Gouache on paper 21 x 15 cm

The Trees Are Dancing Gouache on paper 21 x 15 cm

Walking away, gives an opportunity for new perspectives...and regular readers will know how I love the idea of new perspectives or even the notion that we can experience multiple prespectives simultaneously. Walking away from my paintings, has prvided good lessons for me. It has taught me to walk away, either physically or metaphorically, from problems and to return to them with 'new eyes'.

Recently on my walks, I have decided to experiment with imagining myself inside a vortex, in that core where stillness exists...the kind of stillness where listening takes on a new meaning, because the listening is not just with one's ears. I am going to suggest that this is place where one can find 'new ears' as well as 'new eyes'! And...with these new perceptors comes new knowledge. I've written about the stillness, knowledge and colur in a recent post 

Now, to something a bit lighter...Christmas presents!!!! I think a painting is a wonderful gift for any ocassion, however, it is Christmas that beckons now that we have entered November. So, I've made a online 'gallery' of paintings which I think would make great presents for that special someone. The paintings above are three
suggestions. This 'gallery' is on my website and here is the link:

On Saturday I am going to the opening of the Redland Art Award. I am one of the finalists and the winners are announced at the opening. next solo exhibition will be 22 Feb-6 March 2011 at Graydon Gallery, Brisbane.