Saturday, July 31, 2010


Salination Gouache on paper 14.8 x 21 cm

Salt Eternal Gouache on paper 17.8 x 25.4 cm

Regular readers of this BLOG will know of my interest in water. I have previously written about my thoughts on water, its literal use and its capacity to be a metaphor for life, akin to my much loved tree-of-life/knowledge motif. I grew up on my parent's grain farm just outside Dalby on the rich Darling Downs, in SE Queensland, Australia. In the last 5 years the area, once known for it farming and livestock agricultural production, is now hitting the headlines for its burgeoning mining industry with open cut coal mines and coal seam gas extraction [CSG].

This link is a previous post about water. It has other links to other posts as well.

One of the by-products of CSG is 'waste water' which is salty. During gas extraction processes this water flows from deep underground, from the aquifers that make up the Great Artesian Basin which straddles Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Here's a link to a picture of it. Sustaining this huge resource is of paramount importance for a number of reasons. These include maintaining reliable drinking water sources for livestock, some rural townships' needs, ensuring water tables are maintained to avoid soil salination and so on.

The CSG 'waste water' is stored in water storages ie: dams. However, there is controversy over how to deal with the high salt content, as the water cannot be used for most agricultural and domestic needs. Salt does not go away. Interestingly the symbolism of salt is twofold. It symbolises eternity, endurance. It also symbolises aridness, suffering and barrenness. Put these two together and the result is eternal barrenness. Salination of soils is an environmental disaster to be clearly avoided.

This takes me to the question of risk. What kind of risks are governments, enterprise...indeed all of us... willing to take when questions of environmental vulnerability and threats to future food production for an increasing population are asked but no-one seems to be able to answer in a way which demonstrates that risk analysis has been completely examined. It is one thing to ascertain and take risks if subsequent action only affects the person or enterprise making the decision. But, it is another thing altogether if risk or potential risk may affect not only the decider, but others not only now but into the future.  

So, to my paintings above. These two small works on paper are the results of my ponderings on the risk of salt to our environment. Obviously I am focussing on the district of my childhood, but soil salination is a global problem in terms of environmental issues and future food producing needs.

Here are some links to articles about the CSG issue.

Please have a look at this site too  

Until next time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Detail of as yet untitled painting in progress

                                                Detail of as yet untitled painting in progress

The two images above are details from the painting I am currently working on. The painting is 90 x 200 cm, so quite large. I am aiming to create an image which seems to ripple, beguiling the viewer, and then seducing even further with a realisation that the ripples mesmerisingly seem to be concealing something underneath. You know what it's like when water ripples, yet you know there is something underneath, but you can't quite see. Regular readers will realise that the literal nature of this is not my primary interest. I will write more on this once the painting is finished.

I wanted to also create an image that gripped the viewer by seducing them to come closer, but also to move back to view the entire image from a distance. A bit like an astonomer looking into the night sky with a naked eye, and a mind full of awe, and then feeling compelled to examine the sky with the help of a telescope, to somehow get 'closer' to the swathes and twinkles of light.

The painting, as yet untitled, could be described as a landscape, but one which is not tethered to just the Earth, but is free to be interpreted as a 'landscape' of the Universe or a 'landscape' of our internal emotional world. Regular readers will immediately identify that this painting is another of my visual investigations of the dynamic that exists in and between the nano and vast, the micro and macro.

But, I will write more when the painting is finished!

But, now to some news.
The two paintings below have been sold! A new dental practice 'Icon Dental' has bought them and they will hang in the reception area. This new practice is in Yeppoon.

One Oil on linen 90 x 200 cm 2009

                                                        Frisson Oil on linen 74 x 147 cm 2010

Cheers Kathryn

Saturday, July 17, 2010


                                           Compassion Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm

I have been pondering the painting above...yes, while I was painting it [of course!] but also when I have been driving my car, before I go to sleep at night, as I have been eating a meal, and last night even my dreams were preoccupied with it. As I ponder, the painting seems to grow beyond its boundaries. I wanted to create an image which 'spoke' of compassion, in a similar way that my ealier painting Love 'spoke' of love.

I really enjoyed painting both Love and Compassion and could feel an emotional essence transferring to, and then from, each painting. Regular readers would know that I have written about compassion previously. Indeed, I have a post in 2008 called 'Compassion'

Compassion, to me, is more sustainable than sympathy, which relies on a relationship of giver and receiver, thus a heirarchy. Sympathy certainly has its place, particularly after a disaster. But, ongoing sympathy, given and received, allows for an emotional colonisation process that can lead to power plays. Compassion is a more equal dynamic, where differences as well as similarities are acknowledged, and where, with imagination, each party can place themselves in another's shoes. Compassion is about negotiating distances of perception and perspective, to a point where, with the help of imagination, a person can move back and forth between how they see themselves, how others may see them and how others see themselves and so on.
With Compassion I wanted to suggest a meeting of difference, which obviously has underlying basic similarities. So, I used my transcultural/religious tree-of-life/knowledge, one a dark purple and the other a dark green. As the two trees' branches move closer the colour softens, until they meet in a light pink, which seems to pulse. Small dots, yellow on the left and sky blue on the right, fill the spaces between the trees' branches. Again, the colours soften as they move closer together, until the meet in a frisson of white [light].

Difference is signified in the different colours of the two trees and small dots. However, basic similarities are 'held' within the symbolism of the tree-of-life. For me these are those things which signal life ie: heart beat, breath, as well as the urge for identity and shared stories across religions and cultures over time. The trees' branches suggest a vascular, system-like quality which is augmented by the dots, giving the circular shape a sense of movement, even a pulse.

The circle indicates continuity of life, eternity, time, humankind memory. Yet, the image may be a cross- section of something even more dynamic such as a spiral. If this is the case the past and future are contained within the image...our souls' immortality perhaps? I also wanted to create an impression of a halo hovering in the endless space of the universe. After all, halos hover above those that are perceived to be holy, and thus presumably compassionate. Halos also have connotations of light, as in the light of God. When the two trees meet in a pulse of white light compassion evolves into an expression which is much larger than the moment or place. This is the power of spirit.

The wreath-like appearance of the circle of trees evokes the compassion felt during memorial services, particularly for fallen soldiers. Indeed, compassion contains gratefulness whether it be for soldiers who gave their lives for us, or for important religious characters, such as Christ, who gave his life for humanity.
Compassion, rather than sympathy, has the capacity to affect the world in positive ways. It is sustainable because it it not hard work. It really only requires an urge and imagination.

This painting was in my exhibition VORTEX: Seeking Stillness At Its Core in February 2011. A visitor to the show brought in a pair of 3D glasses. Once I put on the glasses, many of my paintings immediately separated into multiple layers which I felt could be touched and traversed. 'Compassion' took on a spiral like impression, as if part of the circle receeded and continued back into the painting. I was thrilled! When I wrote the earlier post above I said, 'The circle indicates continuity of life, eternity, time, humankind memory. Yet, the image may be a cross- section of something even more dynamic such as a spiral. If this is the case the past and future are contained within the image...our souls' immortality perhaps?'
I wrote about the 3D glasses in a post after the exhibition. Here's the link


Saturday, July 10, 2010


                                               Finding The Light Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm

This is the painting I have been working on for weeks. I uploaded some work-in-progress detail photos in a recent post. Regular readers will notice that I am continuing with ideas I have explored in some recent works on paper. These ideas revolve around my imaginings of what it would be like inside a vortex. So...away from the turmoil of the twisting and turning of the outer vortex to what I imagine is a central core place of stillness and quiet. BUT...not a the kind of stillness and quiet of merely an absence of noise and activity. I imagine a stillness and quiet sentiently replete with an energy that does not express in a manner we are used to.  This energy, I imagine, is the total of all energy from the nano to the universal, thus seemingly immeasurable, but somehow understood. I am also imagining that inside the vortex the collapse of line of sight perspective is complete with a realisation that all perspectives/distances can be experienced simultaneously. Regular readers know that this 'collapse' is something I have written about a number of times.

I have used my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life to envelop the woman positioned inside a vortex. I have tried to depict a sense that the vortex core is an immensity beyond the understanding of the physical world from whence it spiralled into being. I have been reading about the black holes which exist at the centre of spiralling galaxies. Now, these are interesting, but as an artist the more I read the more I imagine what it might be like inside the black hole core of our galaxy and others. Hence I have called this painting 'Finding The Light', because it implies a search which results in discovery. 'Light' can represent knowledge, discovery. It can also represent faith. It can represent the Divine. It can represent finding oneself. Coupled with the tree-of-life/knowledge it can represent LIFE.

I have created the 'light' with the small dots which cascade over the woman inside the vortex. This 'light' spills into the trees like veins pulsing through life's membranes.

So, whilst this painting is a depiction of what I imagine it to be like inside a vortex, the vortex does not need to be an external phenomena. The concept of a vortex within us, within our psyche when we seem to be spiralling with emotional and psychological issues is also interesting. This psychological place of emotional turmoil where we seem to be swept away in a spiralling cacophone can be stripped away to find the core where sabotaging subconscious beliefs can be irradicated with stillness.

I like the way the red lines of the vortex and the trees literally remind us of the flow of blood within our bodies. This corporeality is, in a sense, mirrored in the outer physical world. But, does it hint at the substance and system of worlds yet unknown?

In 'Finding The Light' I wanted to play with the tree-of-life/knowledge, so I deliberately painted upside down trees 'growing' from trees that are upright. For me, this symbolises balance. It also helped me find a way to suggest that the space inside the vortex is immeasurable. The yellow and red 'leaves' fall from their trees, the yellow upwards and the red downwards. Falling leaves suggest a renewal and in this painting simultaneous connections with Earth and Heaven, with all perspectives and distances.

I could write more, but I will leave it up to you now... to imagine.

Here are some links to other galaxial, stillness type posts!

Here is a link to 'Becoming' which is another painting of a female figure and trees. This painting sold in my recent exhibition 'Frisson'.

Friday, July 02, 2010


I am still working on a painting, hours per day...and it is progressing. I wrote about it in a recent post and also placed an image of a detail. However, the cold damp weather, we are having here in Brisbane, means the paint is not drying as quickly as I'd like. So I can't over paint where I want to.

In the meantime I thought I'd take a journey down memory lane...snippets from my art past! So, no paintings, but just newsy type photos.

The photograph above is of me meeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 at Queensland's Government House in early 1977. I won the senior section a state wide art competition for young people. And, the prize was to meet the Queen! Unfortunately, this was before the days of digital cameras and 1000s of photos, so I only have this one of me meeting the Queen...but her back it to the viewer. My painting is the one on the top left. The Queen had chosen the theme for the competition, which was 'The Family'.

The head mistress at my boarding school was a bit upset that I did not wear the school uniform. However, I entered the competition on my own during the Christmas school holidays, and I thought the school really should not have a say in what I wore. So sweet teenager that I was, I insisted on wearing bright red, my very frizzy long hair out and high heeled sandals. The latter elevated me to well over 180 cm tall [I am already and was already height endowed!]. So, I towered over the Queen and felt quite ludicrous...but also very excited. Out of sight are about 80 photographers and the winners' parents, who also got to meet the Queen

The photo above is me again, not meeting a famous person, but eyeballing a Monet Waterlilly painting. This was taken in 1981 when I worked at the National Gallery in Canberra.


The three photos above are from my solo show Distance in London in 2002. This was a very exciting exhibition with the Deputy Australian High Commissioner opening the show for me. The gallery was packed with people I knew, my friends knew, gallery list, people I met in the street!

DUBAI 2004

Australian Ambassador His Excellency Noel Campbell and his wife with me at my opening in Dubai 2004

Making my speech at the opeing in Dubai 2004.

The three photos above are from my solo exhibition in Dubai in 2004. I loved being in Dubai and I have made a number of subsequent visits. The Australian Ambassador His Excellency Noel Campbell opened the exhibition for me. This was a wonderful gesture.



The three images above are from my solo show at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation in 2005. I was very pleased to have the then Queensland Minister for Education and The Arts, Hon. Rod Welford to open the exhibition. The Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation was wonderful providing me with an excellent opening event...even a ribbon to be cut. My daughter was given the task of holding the cushion which the scissors were placed upon.

My Abu Dhabi exhibition, and the whole experience of talking with people from all over the region, has profoundly influenced my work since then. My tree-of-life paintings, which I exhibited in the show, were the catalysts for some of the most inspiring conversations I have ever had. Regular readers of this BLOG will already know this and how grateful I am to have had the experience...hopefully I will again!

So, just a few snippets from the past. Not too many deep and meaningfuls on this post...plenty of them previously!