Friday, April 30, 2010


Monetize Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2010

I have two core focuses in my painting practice. One is my exploration of the potency of archetypal symbols [particularly the transcultural/religious tree-of-life] looking at how they may 'speak' to us in the 21st Century. My second focus is water and the commodification of something which makes up around 60% of our bodies, falls from the sky, fills rivers, dams, seas and underground aquifers, and ultimately sustains us and our planet. Yet, whilst these two focus areas seem distinctly different, they are not. Water is itself a powerful age-old symbol. Indeed it is one of the four elements Earth, Fire, Wind and Water which have been ascribed sacred and mystical symbolism over centuries. Water is also a symbol of the subconscious through its various symbolism to interpret dreams eg: the state, whether still, turbulent, flowing etc, of a large mass of water represents our emotions.

Stripped of all symbolism, water and the tree, are and have been, universally and literally understood and experienced. Contemporary environmental concerns highlight the fact that we cannot take them for granted. Water sustains us and the planet, and trees provide a plethora a life preserving and giving elements from the oxygen we breath, to shade, to timber for shelters, to homes for a myriad of animals and other plants...and so on. Both, water and trees, are LIFE. No wonder their symbolism propels their potency beyond the literal. If you think about it, we are largely water, and our body is like a tree with our lymph and vascular systems almost mimicking the tree's essence at an internal level.

Regular readers know of my intense interest in exploring the transcultural/religious tree-of-life and its potential to bring people together. The tree-of-life resonates at a core human level, as if it agitates human race memories within our DNA... that large part of DNA we don't yet understand. It is, as if, it reminds us that we are all fundamentally the same...we all have the signs of life ie: a pulse and breath.  I am interested in searching for ways to visually interpret the power of the tree-of-life to 'say' something to us and about us in the 21st century that will inspire shared conversations looking at what is similar between us, as well as what is different, across cultures and religions.

With the issue of water I am interested in possibly being a little more of an agitator. Regular readers know that my childhood growing up on a wheat farm on the Darling Downs in Queensland and then living further west for 18 years, have provided me with insights into agricultural water use. The commodification of water into something which is bought, sold, allocated, harvested, irrigated, litigated about and so on is both fascinating and a little scarey. Once something becomes financially valuable the potential for the divide between the 'haves' and 'have nots' widens. The comodification of water has developed at the same time drought and subsequent water shortages have become more prevalent. Once something becomes scarce or seems as if it will not be replenished regularly, authorities need to put in place infrastructures, regulations and laws to ensure the commodity is not overused, wasted and so on.

Regular readers know I have been developing a series of works on paper which are about my thoughts on water. I have previously written various past posts about this water series. Here's a link to a recent post where I have listed other water links.

The painting above 'Monetize' is an ambigous 'landscape' made up of small $ signs to signify the commodification of water, plus the value of the products and produce which ensue from water's sustenance. The $ 'value' has seeminlgy penetrated everywhere from the air, to the land and to the underground. Does $ 'value' [ie: economic drivers] ensure, for instance, the equitible supply of food, fare recompense to farmers, full disclosure to investors and so on?? Water can flow. How does the wealth from water's commodification flow?

At a deeper level, does commodification and the resultant $ 'value' of water which we are 60% made of, change how we might approach or embrace its symbolic reverence and relevance. By adding 'value' what other kind of value is in jeopardy? The GFC makes one think about the substance of $ value and the ability for this substance to be, in many cases, like vapour!


In Maleny opening Thursday 20 May 6-8 pm. The exhibition PRESENCE will continue until Tuesday June 13. @ the hippest place in town 'The UPFRONT CLUB'. This small exhibition is a collection of my paintings from the last couple of years that 'speak' about presence. Maleny is a great place and it is where my parents retired over 20 years it is a bit like going 'home'.

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