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.