Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Other Universes Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm

At my artist's talk in discussion with Dr. Christine Dauber on March 26 she asked me a question about landscape. She basically asked if I identified myself as a landscape painter. This is an interesting one for me, because for many years I would have described myself as such. However, whilst I still paint what could be called landscapes, I don't think the term 'landscape painter', or describing my painting as 'landscape', is fulsome enough. I've pondered this for some time now, even prior to Dr. Dauber bringing the topic to the fore. When I answered her question I basically said 'yes and no'! I ventured to suggest that whilst my feet are planted on the ground my head is actually in the clouds, so I 'see' the external and internal world in and from multiple perspectives.

I have said 'external' and 'internal' because the way I 'see' is both an outward observation with my eye, of eye ball and pupil, as well as an inward one with my mind's 'eye'. The latter is, I suppose, what I 'see' in and with my imagination. Both observations involve another level, which is my emotional response which can quicken or ignite excitement, further wonder, intellectual stimulation, revelation.

Someone, and I cannot remember who, described my paintings as 'spiritual landscapes'. This is probably getting close to the mark, but I still have a niggling problem with the word landscape and what it means to most people ie: an image of or inspired by the literal physical landscape of our external environment. I have had a thought...maybe this meaning of landscape tethers us to a line of sight perspective, with its contingent uni dimensionality, that ultimately blinds us to other dimensions. Are we, in fact, attached to a diminished idea of landscape which affects how we view our world and beyond? If we are, its not a helpful way of 'seeing' as we live locally in an increasingly globalised world.

Recent natural disasters remind us that our landscape can change dramatically and dreadfully, not just cyclically with seasons etc. Change is inherent within the external landscape and tethering ourselves to a vision of constancy in one dimension, I propose, makes it much harder to cope with catastrophe, as well as blinding us to new ways of 'seeing'. The latter probably impacts on how we live in and treat our environment.

The Beginning Of Everything Oil On Linen 90 x 180 cm

If everything in this universe is the result of a BIG BANG, then everything is the BIG BANG'S dust. If everything [and this includes us!] is dust from a common source, then everything is 'landscape'. I ponder upon this and think about how I am inspired...not just what inspires me. Once something triggers my imagination I see inside myself. I actually feel my eyes 'glass' over as I almost plummet to immeasurable internal depths. It often feels much more vast than the external world. In a way, by traversing my internal world I find  pathways to alternative outside worlds. The landscape is within and without.

Cosmic Dust Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm

If everything is the dust from the BIG BANG then there must be a common fundamental code imbedded within everything. Now that's exciting. I can already 'see' that this code is the foundation of and for landscape...a landscape that is not about time or place, but of existence. This code is both here and now, which is in the past and the future. Maybe our imagination has the capacity to stir this common fundamental code agitating it to reveal itself?

However, if we are tethered to a uni dimensional notion of landscape then it means we [probably mainly westerners!] have trained our brains, over time, to view the world this way. I am reminded of Dr. Norman Doidge's fabulous book, 'The Brain That Changes Itself' and his talk at this year's Qld Writers' Festival. Encultured ways of 'seeing' create maps in our brains, but we can change these maps if, as time goes on, we find that previous ways of 'seeing' are not helpful. I am suggesting it is time to change! This is where art's agency lies. Art can help trigger the impetus to create new maps in our brains...maps that link more with imagination or our 'mind's eye' rather than just our eye of eye ball and pupil. I have previously written about Norman Doidge's book and art:

As I explore the potential and potency of the transcultural/religious tree-of-life weaving into my paintings, I wonder if the tree holds the clue to the code imbedded within everything? After all, it can represent systems of all kinds. Its branches and its roots link matter and air, heaven and earth. It symbolises life across religions and cultures through stories and myth. It breaths for us and the planet, and it is in a constant state of change. I wonder.


1 comment:

Audubon Ron said...

Hi Kathryn, I commented on this the other day, then my computer crashed. I just got it back to halfway working okay. Will comment now.

I would say you’re a “vision-scape artist”. Your work is not in the land or the outerspace-scape either.

It’s a place where ideas, dialogue and creational meaning crash at the shoals of limited human wonder in full color.

I saw the other paintings but I think Other Universe is new to me. I love it.