Friday, April 02, 2010


Histories Oil on linen 80 x 200 cm 2005

I am thinking about some ideas for my next solo exhibition, which will probably be next year sometime. I have also been going over some images of older paintings. I have been doing this for an application I am preparing. So, it is an interesting process to be thinking about future work as well as reviewing older work. And, on top of this there is the evaluative process of the exhibition FRISSON which I have just held here in Brisbane. One of the important aspects of exhibiting a body of work is that it gives the artist a chance to sit back and ponder his/her work as a whole body. This review stage is significant because paintings are placed in an exhibition to complement each other as well as to 'sing' individually. Patterns, contrasts, and new perspectives are seen as a result of an exhibition.

Histories, the painting above, was in my exhibition in Abu Dhabi at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation in December 2005. It is a significant painting for me as it marks a pivotal realisation which has propelled my work since then. As regular readers of my BLOG know, one of the most rewarding and exciting things about my exhibition in Abu Dhabi were the conversations, triggered by my paintings, with people from all over the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe...with just a few westerners.

I had a conversation about Histories with an Arab woman. We started talking about the concentric circles being representative of time, as per the circles of a cut tree trunk which reveal the age of a tree. I discussed that the small trees in each semi circle were tree-of-life motifs and represented, to me, geneological history over time and that the subtle changes of colour linked each generation, but also 'spoke' of difference. The woman turned to me and said, 'But, Kathryn, this is us, it is all people...we are all connected.' I agreed and the conversation deepened into a discussion about how both of us wished for peace on earth ,and that if we are all connected, and share the planet, peace is not only imperative but surely possible. Neither of us saw peace as just an absence of war, or even some utopian state where disagreement did not exist. At the end of the conversation the woman turned to me and said very seriously, 'If there were more people like you in the world there would be peace.' I assured her that I was absolutely certain there were plenty of people like me!

The conversation triggered by Histories, but ultimately not simply about Histories, revealed things to each of us which an agenda driven conversation would not have necessarily uncovered in a way which connected with deep integrity and compassion. The average, everyday person, no matter where they come from, desires peace on Earth, yet the last comment from my visitor to my exhibition indicated to me that she felt there were not enough people in the world truly desiring peace or doing something about it. If this is a perception held by presumably many other people, how do we send the message in a way which come from our hearts as well as our minds?

Now, this is where I 'see' the catalytic agency of art ie: it is in the type of conversation art may trigger. I do not see this as a 'role' for art, because that impies a process, outcomes and agenda. However, conversations which are agenda-less, are not necessarily directionless. These kind of conversations allow for emergent patterns to be discovered, whereas agenda driven conversations generally have a preconceived pattern.

I have thought a bit about the idea of utopia. Someone made a comment to me at FISSON when I said I was interested in the stories, symbols etc which connect people, races, religions and cultures in order to hopefully find links that mean something in the 21st century which will bring people together to make the world a better place for all. The person I was speaking with made a comment that this was a utopian wish. Since then I have thought about this comment, because I felt a mammoth impediment in the idea of utopia. A utopia is an ideal, a perfect place but there is a snag... it is understood that a utopia is not necessarily something which can be practically achieved. Do I desire a utopian world if it has an inbuilt mechanism to disallow its manifestation. No! However, striving for something more meaningful will take us places, which whilst they may not be utopian, are potentially better for all. This does not mean that disgreement, and the inherent sufferings and joys of life in transformation do not exist. Naivity is not part of my world picture...


Just letting everyone know that I have a small exhibition [opening Thursday May 20] at the Upfront Club in Maleny, which for overseas visitors to my BLOG, is a beautiful town in the hinterland behind Queensland Sunshine Coast. I am calling the exhibition Presence. I have exhibited at the Upfront Club twice before and it's been great fun, because it is THE place to go in Maleny I will be writing more about this show over the next few weeks.


I have a doctor friend who is doing a 12 month locum on the very remote Pitcairn Island. He has recently made a precarious treck to a cave where there is some rock carvings which have not been seen by many people at all. He has photographed them and written about his exploits and observations. Check out his BLOG!




Daniel Phillips said...

Hey, good luck in your solo exhibition, keep us updated!

I am now following your blog and would appreciate it if you could follow me back, thanks a lot. Dan.

Audubon Ron said...

I thought I commented on this. Congrats on your show. Utopia would be good. (C’mere let me ask you something in soft tones. Where is Utopia anyway, that wouldn't be in like Africa, would it?)