Monday, June 28, 2010


                                         Listening To The Stillness Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm unframed

I have previously, in recent posts, written about my interest in the concept of the vortex and the stillness I imagine to be found in the centre or core of the vortex. In the stillness I imagine a quietness which allows you to listen to yourself, your thoughts and reflections, your heartbeat and breath. The imploring hysteria held within the twirling and whirling of the outer vortex fades away to leave a place where listening can be really experienced...a listening to life from within yourself, and a listening to the space and energy of the Universe. I imagine the vortex core to be a space of unfathomable immensity and also intimacy. This paradox is completely imaginable if notions of lines of sight and traditional perspective are abandoned.

I have written before about my thoughts on perspective and the need for us in the 21st century, where we live locally in a globalised world, to develop skills in 'seeing' multiple perspectives simultaneously. Indeed, another word may need to be created to describe the collapse of perspective.

But back to the vortex core. The painting above, and those in other recent posts, are my visual explorations of being inside the vortex. I imagine an attraction to, and an emmanation from, the vortex representing a natural and consistent flow of life and love. The hysteric twirling and whirling of the outer vortex strips life and love to the point where they are confused with such human derailments as jealousy, materialism, neediness, martyrdon etc.

The image above is a close up of an oil painting I am currently working on. It is my first oil painting focusing on my vortex ideas. As you can see my much loved tree-of-life has a dominant part to play in the visual story. [regular readers of this blog will not be surprised!] As in my recent works on paper, the tree-of-life/knowledge is connected to the inner core of the vortex like a sustaining vascular system, suggesting that once stillness is listened to, our lives expand beyond the reaches of the hysteric turmoil existing in the noisy outer world.

Please have a look at this website 'coal4breakfast'. It has been set up by a group of farmers who live near or along a road called Haystack Rd, on the Darling Downs west of Dalby, Queensland, Australia. I grew up on my parent's farm not far away from this place. The soils surrounding Dalby are some of the most fertile soils in the southern hemisphere, thus representing major food producing capacity. However, there are minerals under the ground, mainly coal. Mining is threatening the sustainability of the fertile food producing soils of the area. There is no gurantee that lands can be rejuvenated and restored. For me, the risk is too high, because it is a risk that will influence future generations. These soils can produce food for 1000s of years, yet a mine's life is vastly shorter.


Thursday, June 24, 2010


                                                   Galaxial Landscape Oil on linen 90 x 200 cm

It is over a week since I last posted. The time has flown. But, I have finished my large 'galaxial' painting I wrote about in a recent post. And, there it is above. It's a 90 x 200 cm painting, so is rather long and large.

I wanted to create a painting that surprises...but surprises in a way which triggers a wonderment and a pondering. There are a few types of surprise and the one we humans seem most addicted to, is shocked surprise. What I  mean by 'shocked surprise' is a, 'Oh my goodness, how could that happen', kind of surprise. You know... when revelations of debauchery, floundering, misuse of public funds, romantic affairs, drunken footballer behaviour and so on and on and on, are made. We read or hear about these sorts of events, we tutt tutt or sympathise or criticise, and then forget about it until we are induced by media headlines to react the same way to the next shocking revelation. The constant cascade of shocking news seems to desensitise reactions causing feelings of helplessness. In a way, feeling shocked is all we think we can give.

So, getting back to the kind of surprise I want to induce...wonderment kind of surprise...the kind that actually makes your brain feel like its be stimulated because synapses and dendrites get a workout...the kind that makes your heart sing...the kind that opens gates inside your imagination...the kind that makes you dream. The kind that can actually...possibly....stimulate creative solutions to some of the world's problems.

My galaxial painting is an elliptical galaxy shaped long tree! The tree starts in the middle and twists its way around. Yes, regular readers of my blog will recognise the tree as my transcultural/religious tree-of-life  and/or tree-of-knowledge. I have been reading about galaxies recently and an image of a tree-of-life galaxy jumped into my imagination as I was reading. As it jumped into my imagination I felt like perspective disappeared into the seemingly liquid distances of space. Galaxies and their formations remind us that life/existence was compelled to form within nanoseconds of what is called the Big Bang. We are part of an ongoing process of life unfolding. We and our evolution are linked to the compulsion for life which errupted in those first nanoseconds. Now that's amazing, surprising, exciting and wonderful.

This painting is also linked to my interest in the distances of the micro and macro, the intimate and vast, the nano and the universal, the global and local. By using a commonly understood motif such as the tree I wanted to bring the universal into the grasp of some kind of human scale, to collapse distance and to remind that Earth is our home [at the moment and for the foreseeable future!] so we must honour, respect and love it.

I wonder what it would be like if we were addicted to wonder?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


                                                                 Stillness Within Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

Have you ever tried to find stillness? When I say 'stillness' I mean that place of peace and silence where the world stops spinning. I have tried many types of meditation, but I find it very difficult to make up my mind about where my favourite quiet place is. So, when a meditation facilitator suggests that one goes, in one's mind, to a favourite place I get quite agitated because I cannot choose. Then if I have actually chosen my spot before the meditation time is up, I then try to work out what the weather might be like, where exactly am I positioned and so on. Normally I start in a certain place ,but end up somewhere else, with many intervening 'happenings' occurring along the way. I suppose one could put it down to having an imagination!

But, recently I discovered a way to experience the stillness. I wrote about this briefly in a recent previous post 'Artifice of Fantasy' I imagine I am inside a vortex! Well, yes...the vortex is a metaphor for the hurly burly of life. But, I find it very easy to imagine myself inside a vortex and when I do, I immediately feel stillness. The inside is the core, where I imagine no movement and silence, but an immense energy. This energy is not a frantic, electricified type of energy, but rather an energy of source, of a beginning and an end... and thus without time.

I was thinking about silence recently for a few reasons.
1.  I enjoy silence and I wonder why people want noise and sound all the time. When I think there is silence I realise that  it is never really silent, because through the quiet of seeming silence, sounds of nature can be heard eg: rustle of a lizard in the grass, a small bird's song and so on.
2.  A friend of mine mentioned the French philospoher Luce Iragary's interest in silence. I have previously read some of Iragary's work, but it was some time ago. I remember being drawn to it at the time. So, I have done some googling and read a little more and will endevour to buy one, two or more of her publications. Her interest in silence as a place of listening is intriguing and actually deceptively quite mutlifaceted in terms of knowing oneself... and the other ...and others.
3. I have another friend, Anna Schaumkel who runs listening circles through the business she runs with her partner I have attended a listening circle and it is quite a powerful experience. People sit in a circle and as each person talks the others listen without making commment. There is a profound experience of being heard.
4. As I have imagined being inside the vortex, in this place of stillness, I have 'heard' my own life force, I have 'heard' myself in the silence.

I know that many people, both men and women, feel unheard and have the attendant core belief of being unlovable. However, the silencing of women across history and cultures is profoundly sad, for men and women. This silencing can be directly by men, or by women to and of themselves based on fears revolving around expectations of societies and families which are largely based on patriachal dynamics. As the mother of daughters I see them voicing their opinions in ways that, at the same ages, I would never have been game to. As a single mother for the last ten years I have watched my daughters not be silenced by me and the residues of my learned experiences of expectation. My exhaustion has meant I could not keep up the facade of really caring about expectations, which deep down I resented anyway! My daughters' expectations are to be heard and not just be me, but by their father, friends, teachers and so on! In fact, I have learnt a lot from my daughters!

STILLNESS WITHIN  Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm
This painting depicts the tree of life twirling around the vascular red vortex which is linked at both the top and bottom to 'veins' which extend beyond the painting. An upright and an inverted tree-of -life, both rooted to the 'veins', suggest that time and space have ceased being measurable, as the woman inside the vortex experiences a stillness and quiet, where she hears her own life force through her breath and pulse, and knows who she really is.

My small exhibition 'Presence' has been extended by one week until 22 June. So, 'Presence' can still be seen at Maleny's Upfront Club 31 Maple St, Maleny


Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Detail of new painting with working title 'Galaxial Landscape' 90 x 200 cm Oil on linen

The above image is a detail of the painting I am currently working on. In my last post I briefly discussed a new work on paper called 'From The Stillness' where I have placed a figure inside a vortex. The painting above continues my interest in spirals, vortexs, helixes etc. I have used these shapes of phenomena in the past, but not with same intensity as I feel at the moment. I am reading another Martin Rees book [co-authored with Mitchell Begelman] called Gravity's Fatal Attraction: Black Holes In The Universe. Here's a link to a previous post where I write about Martin Rees's book Our Final Century 

Gravity's Fatal Attraction: Black Holes In The Universe is a more technical book than Our Final Century, but it is equally as fascinating. It was while I was reading the chapter 'Galaxies and Their Nuclei' that my idea for a 'galaxy' formed from my tree-of-life sprung to mind. The image of an elliptical coil of multicoloured branches set against an endless sky-space instantly excited me. The notion of life beyond our human experience, yet tantalisingly possible, got me thinking about how to represent it, thus the tree-of-life motif. I also wanted to clearly place humanity within the tantalisation, thus the tree-of-life motif. Our galaxy is one of an endless number in the Universal schema and our Earth is but just a small dot, indiscernible from far distances. Regular readers will now see where another part of my interest lies. And, that is in perspective...or possibly the loss or implosion of perspective as a traditional line of sight or point of view.

I have postulated before that in a globalised world in which we live locally, we need to be able to 'see' more than one perspective at a time. And, I am talking metaphorically here. 'Seeing' simultaneous perspectives is potentially a new experience which needs a new word to describe it. A word which departs from traditional notions of line of sight. A word which untethers our imaginations in order to help us wonder about the feeling and experience of being able to 'see' and 'feel' multiple points of view simultaneously. A word which assists us in uncovering other dimensions. Are we missing those dimensions because our sense of perspective is tethered by line of sight, which always has blindspots?

I still have a lot do do with my new large painting... it is 90 x 200 cm. I had to make sure the coiled or spiralled tree-of-life appeared to be almost 3 dimensional on the flat long canvas. Now that took some time to work out , but I am happy. I wanted the tree to sing with colour and so far it is showing signs of singing!  I wanted it to sing because, to me, that means there is an electricity or energy portrayed. It is important to me that in this painting a cosmic type of energy is evident and felt by the viewer. When the painting is finished I hope that the viewer feels simultaneously drawn into the spiral, and propelled to vast distances [at least in their imaginations!] Above is a small sketch I did late on the night when I was reading about galaxies.

So, I will return to my studio now. And, until next time, cheers,

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


From The Stillness Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

I am back in the studio properly now, after my break following FRISSON. The house smells of turps. I smell of turps. I call it my 'eau de turps' perfume. I spent this morning preparing the first layer of colour on 5 canvases. Lots of paint, turps and linseed oil! I also sat and stared at a 90 x 200 cm canvas which already has the background completed. I have so many ideas, I have to sift through each imagined image to 'test' to 'see' if it suits the long horizontal format, plus if I feel myself getting really excited about it. I've sketched and made notes to myself over the last 6 or so weeks and today I have been reading through my various art diaries to get a 'feel' for how I am going to proceed.

In the middle of all this activity I finished a work on paper [above] which I had started last week when I tentatively ventured into my room where I create my works on paper. I have to wait for the newly prepared canvases to dry, or partially dry, before I can splash some more paint around. Thus, finishing this work on paper helped me process some of my thoughts. I certainly don't want to lose my thoughts!!!

The painting above is called 'From The Stillness'. It depicts my imagined self inside a vortex. No, I am not unrelentingly caught up in a dizzying twirling and swirling, but rather, I am in the core of the vortex where I imagine stillness, yet unfathomable positive energy and unconditional love to exist. It is in the stillness that I imagine the presence of the divine, which I have symbolised with a white light that cascades over my body. This 'light' erupts from the vortex core into life, which is represented by my much loved transcultural-religious tree-of-life.

I have more images of vortex cores and erupting white light inside my head. Plus, I have images inside my head of elliptical galaxies, figures transforming into trees and much, much more. As each image appears in my imagination I know that they come from processes buried deep in my psyche and in time, which find their catalysts in wonder.

Now to some thoughts which are linked to all that I have already written above, but are broader in their perspective. Imagination is the superconductor of knowledge. Without imagination and wonder where would we be? Science, mathematics, philosophy...discovery of any kind is aided and driven by imagination and wonder. Yet, I sometimes think that people confuse imagination with fantasy. For me, the latter is more about wishful thinking and is prone to unhealthy distortion, pretense and superficiality. Oh, it can be fun, but it can also be dangerous as the imploded 'fantasy' of subprime loans and other crumbling edifices of the GFC have revealed. And, what about the 'fantasy' worlds created by leaders such as Mugabe, Hitler and others of their ilk?

I am reminded of J.K. Rowling's Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association
She says of imagination, 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. She goes on to say,  I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

Maybe the 'wilfully unimaginative' are those prone to the artiface of fantasy? This makes one think about the role post-modernism has played [literally played!] in the artifice which the GFC has revealed and continues to reveal. I wrote a post in November 2008 about postmodenism and the implosion of financial markets and economies

All this makes one ponder upon art. It seems to me that fantasy may have crept into the visual lexicon, but at what cost? Fantasy can be arresting [momentarily], spectacular [as in being a spectacle], clever but not necessarily intelligent, seductive but not sensual, slapstick but not humourous, didactic [ie: not meaningful], interesting but not memorable...and so on. How can we tell when art is playing with fantasy or revelling in the superconducting depths of imagination and wonder?

J.K Rowling's statement about imagination being the vehicle by which we can empathise with others is pivotally important. It is the capacity to put oneself in another's shoes, bypassing gratuitous sympathy to plummet into the intimacy of shared compassion. It is the capacity to change perspective or even  to 'see' multiple perspectives simultaneously. Regular readers of this BLOG know of my intense interest in art's potential catalytic agency to stimulate new dance steps across the multiple perspectives which are revealed as we live locally in an increasingly globalised world. Compassion is paramount.

I highly recommend J.K. Rowlings speech which you can either read or watch @

Below is a picture of my 'studio' [garage] where I paint my large oil on linen paintings. You can see the first layer of colour on the 5 of the canvases I prepared this morning.