Monday, April 25, 2011

Blood Connection Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm

Regular readers of this BLOG will know there are a few subthemes to my work. However, hopefully you have detected that the overarching premise is to help make the world a better place for us all. I deliberately try not to be didactic, because didacticism is very rarely open ended. It attempts to give answers rather than stimulate questions which may lead to answers, and even more questions, we did not know existed.  Didacticism can also be the disguise of more insidious agendas designed to herd opinion in certain prescribed ways. Didacticism can be mistaken as political, but its lack of open-endedness renders it impotent. Its potential agency dies because it is tethered to prescription.

One of the subthemes in my work is identifiably political and hopefully potently charged ie: my paintings dealing with water, soil, mining and the coal seam gas industry. Yet, I hope viewers feel that rather than being told, I am inviting them to become more inquisitive about the various potential social, economic and environmental impacts of these issues. Once informed, by their own research, they can make up their own minds.

                                                           $oils Ain't $oils Anymore! Oil on linen 70 x 100 cm

My paintings do not 'scream' their political agency. They are not attention seeking, in the fashionable sense. From a distance the viewer does not see the small $ signs I use to question 'value'. From a distance the viewer cannot read the small words/quotes I use to create my images. However, when up close, the viewer discerns and sees those things he/she could not see from a distance. I have watched people's reactions when they see the $ signs and words. Many immediately get even closer to check that they are seeing properly. Many walk back to a distance again, and then up closer, and then back again...and so on. Many chuckle and most stay in front of the painting for awhile to contemplate. If I am there they will turn around and ask me questions. Often a long conversation ensues.
Regular readers of this BLOG will know that the movement back and forth to view my paintings delights me! Why? Because, I 'see' this movement as the metaphoric 'dance steps' we need to learn if we are to live peacefully, sustainably and productively, in this increasingly globalised world in which we live locally. Simply, the distance viewing is the 'global view'; the close up viewing is the 'local view'. In order to see multiple perspectives simultaneously we need to know the 'dance steps' that allow us to graciously and easily traverse the local/global stage.
The movement back and forth also replicates the kind of movement an artist makes as they create. For example, I will paint up close and then move to a distance to ascertain a number of things, from the practical, to the aesthetic, to the esoteric. As I paint I am in a constant process of moving back and forth. If we all engage in, and with, our world in a way where we metaphorically move back and forth to see, hear and feel different perspectives, then we are all potentially sharing in the act of ongoing creation.
Earth For Sale! Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm

Beauty also has a powerful political agency...because it offers hope. Beauty is not superficial prettiness enslaved to the transcience of fashion. It cannot be enlisted by attention seeking sensationalism or gimmacky spectacle, also fashion's exhausting attendants. Neither are spectacular or senstational. Beauty does not deny ugliness and sadness, and this is its potent secret...its pathos.  I have written about beauty before :

Can We Eat Coal For Breakfast? No! Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

Phantom Water Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

Regular readers know I am concerned about issues surrounding the coal seam gas industry, which is burgeoning in S.E and S.W Queensland, as well as other parts of Australia and the world. I am not anti mining per se, but I am anti any kind of activity which puts food producing farmlands and precious water [aquifer and above ground] at risk. From my perception there are enough worrying incidents, in Australia and overseas [particularly the US] to warrant concern. There are also concerned voices calling for caution from the scientific community. I have attended two public forums where these voices have been clearly articulated. The question marks are there and it seems unscientific to proceed, especially with haste, without further research. 

I am reading a brilliant, but scarey book called 'The Coming Famine' by Julian Cribb. This book coupled with another book I read recently 'Water: The Epic Struggle For Wealth, Power, and Civilization' by Steven Solomon compel me to believe the upmost caution must be taken to preserve water and food producing soils. As a farmer's daughter, and having lived most of my life in rural Australia, I have witnessed farmers embrace more environmentally sustainable practices in ways which enhance productivity. As a student of history I also know that it is both morally and politically dangerous to risk degradation of food producing farmlands. I have written about risk previously. Please see the painting below and the link to my previous post.

Risk Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm



Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Remembering The Reason Why, Oil on linen, 100 x 60 cm

I recently had lunch with two friends, one who is doing her honours year in Archaeology at the University of Qld and the other a psychologist. I have also recently met up with another friend who has studied Anthropology and Shamanism. I have also recently had a vibrational kineseolgy session with a friend who is learning the 'art'. Today I experienced an amazing clearing session with 'wholistic practioner' Gabrielle Engstrom. I have also listened to an audio of Rachael Kohn from the ABC's 'Spirit Of Things' interviewing author and academic Dr. David Tacey about his recent book 'Gods and Diseases' I have recently read this fascinating book.

So why have I told you all about my array of lunch dates, readings, listenings and clearings....because they are all linked to understanding and 'seeing' the body as site. How? In the conversations with my archaeology, anthropolgy and psychology friends we seemed to have 'excavated', from numerous angles, the body's potential to contain information, within the physical, as well as the emotional, subconscious and spirit.  I discussed, with my archaeology friend, that releasing and letting go of unhelpful beliefs is like digging on a site to discover those things which are worth keeping and those that are not. New knowledge is gained.

                                                    Finding The Light Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm

The clearing session with Gabrielle was certainly a process of digging, unlayering, revealing...even things I was not consioulsy aware of. She seemed to tap into my subconscious, but at the same time explore my physical state, instantly compelling me to understand that the body's wellbeing, signals deeper emotional and subconscious issues.

This then brings me to David Tacey's book 'Gods and Diseases'. Tacey takes a Jungian perspective, and then extends it, to propose that modern diseases and the increasing propensity for them [eg: drug abuse, alcholism, depression, mid life crisis etc] are the result of not paying attention to the inner calling of spirit and soul. He proposes that if these callings are not heard and listened to, the 'gods' ' desires [ie: our inner callings]to be heard are so great, they will manifest in any way to get attention...and this can be in the form of disease, addiction etc. The book excavates the body as a site for not only physical out-picturings, but as a site for deeper realms of soul and spirit. Tacey also discusses archetypal symbols and their power to help us respond and 'speak', to the callings from within. Regular readers who know of my love of the transcultural/religious tree-of-life motif will know how excited I got when I read this book!

Our bodies, upon death, return to the earth. What happens to our souls? Well, that's one of the BIG questions asked over milennia! But, if our souls return to spirit, which like the earth could be called an 'environment', it seems to me that the idea of body as site extends beyond death, both literally/physically and spiritually. Indeed, they cannot be separated. It seems, in another sense, that death is not really an end. The site of existence is this universe...which may, of course be a multiverse, where time is not necessarily linear or simple.

                                                                             Becoming Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm

So, with all this in mind, why have I chosen to upload these four paintings?

With Remembering The Reason Why [top] I was trying to portray the idea that there is an urge for life which is shared by us all. This urge is imbedded in our DNA, which may hold human race 'memory', as well as familial genetic memory. Remembering is, I believe, a form of excavation. It is a process which explores time and can illuminate, not only the present but also the past and the future.

Becoming [above] was inspired by Dr. Norman Doidge's book 'The Brain That Changes Itself'. To 'become' who we are meant to be, the body, brain and psyche have the opportunity to move together...but often they don't. Neuroplasticity enables us to potentially change identified or 'excavated' issues that hold us back hindering almost every aspect of life. In the painting, the trees erupting from the woman's heart, head, hands and feet symbolically connect all aspects of her being to the energy of the universe...the tree archetype helps her connect to spirit?

The painting further above called Finding The Light, and the one below called Becoming The Light, speak of the power of the tree-of-life as a trigger to observe and to listen to the 'Gods' that beckon our 'other' side...the one which seeks deeper meaning apart from the material world.

Becoming the Light Oil on linen 160 x 120 cm


Monday, April 11, 2011


Asleep Gouache on paper 28 x 37 cm

My household is back to normal. The house has been de-flood proofed, I've completed the mind numbing MYOB entry and crunching of numbers to give to my accountant for my tax return, my exhibition VORTEX is over with only one more painting to deliver to its purchaser, the lawn is mowed. I can now see my way ahead for those more exciting projects which have been lying dormant...asleep.

And... I do have a couple of really exciting ones I can now devote time to.

'Asleep'...above...I am pretty sure the rabbit was a much more interesting character than the plodding old tortoise!

One of my more interesting projects is a picture book I am self publishing with a company called Balboa Press in the US. The company is division of Hay House. I received a phone call from Balboa just before the Brisbane floods asking me if I'd be interested in publishing a book/manuscript I had previously sent to Hay House. Well...YES! So, my publication is essentially a picture book with a very small amount of text. I am now collating all the images and tidying up the text, working out short-grab marketing lines, title [I have a title in mind] and so on. The book will be for all ages and both sexes. So, keep tuned!

The images I have uploaded on this post are a taste of the kind which will be in my book.

Alone Gouache on paper 28 x 37 cm

Another project is my forthcoming exhibition 'Paradise' @ Purgatory Artspace in Melbourne 8 September - 8 October. 170 Abbotsford St, First Floor, North Melbourne. This is a brief summary of the exhibition:

Paradise is an exhibition of oil on linen, and gouache on paper paintings, exploring notions of paradise, including paradise lost. I use the age old trans-cultural/religious tree-of-life motif to weave historical and spiritual contextual threads through various aspects of the human quest for paradise ‘out there’ and within. By examining paradise from various distances of time and place the exhibition reflects important contemporary considerations of perspective, as we live locally in an increasingly globalised world, where space research proposes the existence of other universes and spiritual explorations suggest vast inner manifestations.

'Paradise' will include paintings exploring the story of Adam and Eve [a story shared by the three Abrahamic religions], environmental degradation [particularly water and soils] and cosmological possibilities. Each of these themes will delve into concepts of 'paradise' in the outer physical world as well as 'paradise' within our inner psyches.

Let Them Go Gouache on paper 37 x 28cm

The painting above 'Let Them Go' will be in my picture book. I painted a series of work in 1997 which explored my feelings about education. This series has never been exhibited. In 1997 I had two small children, with another on the way, and we had experienced our first encounters with the regidity and confined approach to education. I saw my children's lust for learning very quickly abate as conformity, repetition, low expectations, and a one size fits all approach dampened their spirits. I painted this image as a plea to let kids fly, let them enjoy learning, let them explore...don't hold them back with low expectations, and ridiculous accolades given to such things as neatness!!! Thank goodness secondary school curriculums are more stimulating than primary school!

However, I have realised, as time has passed, that this series is really not just about education. It is more about psyche, soul and our inner child. Indeed, many of the core beliefs we hold deep within us, stem from early childhood experiences at home and at school. Some of these core beliefs, which we subconsciously hold onto into adulthood, are not helpful or healthy and need to be 'let go', so that the child within is acknowledged and loved, and we can move forward as confident adults comfortable with who we are. The 'them' in the title 'Let Them Go' need not be about physical entities.

This painting 'Let Them Go' has meant more and more to me as my children have grown. My eldest spent a gap year as an exchange student in Brazil and my second child is currently in Italy as an exchange student. Letting them go was difficult, but the life experiences, independence and compassion for others that they have gained are invaluable. As a result of their exchange experiences I believe they are better equipped to live in this increasingly globalised world in which we live locally.

'Letting go' has many connotations and I leave this painting [and my others] with you, so you can interpret and explore the way you want. As regular readers of my BLOG know, I believe I do not complete my work...yes, I physically finish the product...but the real completions happen when people are stimulated to have conversations with me, themselves or others. Each conversation provides another completion and thus, my paintings exist dynamically beyond me. I've learnt to 'let go' of my paintings and what they might 'say', and in 'letting go' they have spoken to me in many other ways.


Monday, April 04, 2011


The Beginning Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm

Do you ever remember, as a child, wondering about life and the universe? I do. I wish I had that same infant intensity or perhaps, it is really a wish for more time to wonder. I certainly remember wondering how IT all began. How far did space go? How far did time stretch? When did life begin? These questions took up quite a deal of space inside my head especially in those years before I went to school. Ha! School! Whilst it was initially ok, it soon bored me to tears. I remember it being a place of tedium and repetition where wonder went out the window! Secondary school was a bit better!

My grandmother D.E Ross was a poet, author, painter, accountant! and thinker. She wrote a poem about me which I think captures the frustration I felt at not being able to solve the problems my BIG questions posed. Here's the poem:

A tiny grandchild
  barely four years old
    sits chin in chubby hand.
       long distance in her eyes.

Whatever is the mattter, Katarina?
   I have sad thinkings,
      she wistfully replies.

The line long distance in her eyes. tells me that my grandmother caught me at a time when I was wondering. I still feel as if my eyes lose focus when I daydream or wonder. Yet, at age 'barely' 4 I did not have the vocabulary to explain to my grandmother that I felt frustrated. The word 'sad' was the only alternative!

I've written about my grandmother before, most recently at 'The Beginning of Everything' post

The Beginning Of Everything Oil on linen 90 x 180cm

My mother Elsie Brimblecome is also a poet, author, painter, educator...not an accountant! She has a B.A, B.Ed St, and a M. Ed [research] all from the University of Queensland. The latter two degrees completed via external studies from our farm outside Dalby and with 3 children under her feet! My mother wrote a poem called 'Catching Time' which I think illustrates a wonder. So many of us wonder about time!

Catching Time
By Elsie Brimblecombe
When in the lengthy stillness
Of a time before counting
I held within my grasp
The seasons and their fruiting
The suns and moons of morning
Burst asunder from my keeping
And delivered the glory
Of their light in sharing

In the very act of thinking
I apportioned light a place
So high in the scheme of things
That forever and a day
Knew nothing of the smile of heaven
Before the fall of evening

Resting in the moment never passing
I caught a ghost of time
in a net shining casting
Outside the cradle of the present
And there thrashing ever floundering
The great creature of the mind
Lay trapped
In hours and days and past and future
Never ceasing.

I love the last stanza! Makes me wonder!

My mother has an exhibition of her paintings currently hanging at the Brisbane Square Library, 266 George St, Brisbane until end of April]. She has called the exhibition 'Art Based On Text' because the paintings come from 3 series of work, each inspired by the written word. These are Italo Calvino's 'Invisible Cities', Artur Rimbaud's 'Les Illuminations' and Brisbane poet Ynes Sanz's anthology 'Fanny The Flying Housewife and Other Stories: Poems for mad and magnificent women'. [published at by Ynes Sanz, Brisbane, 2009]

Brisbane Square Library web site:

Here are two of my Mother's paintings inspired by Ynes Sanz's poetry, with the accompanying poem.

Mother of Invention: Name unknown, inventor, date of letter 1933, other dates unknown Acrylic on canvas 2010

Mother of Invention: Name unknown, inventor, date of letter 1933, other dates unknown
By Ynes Sanz

'Dear Sir' she wrote, seated at the pine table
with its faint sour smell of yellow soap.
Outside the rain slipped gently
from bent guttering to the verhandah edge
where last year's pressed tin toy would be found
when the house-paddock grass browned off again.

Rolled gold nib and her narrow wedding ring
gleamed back the woodstoves comfortable glow
among the smells of stewed tea and drying boots,
and linen airing on the clothes-horse, where
white pinafores and cut-down trousers
hung ready for the Sunday drive to Church.

She breathed in time with every downstroke
of the marbled fountain pen. So little
rhythm for her in the unfamiliar tool,
the words began to run away,
shake free of the lines and float outside,
to settle in the tea-tree with the wrens.

She saw her children playing on the windrow,
past the yeard where piebald pigs were capering in their mud,
saw her husband, repairing fences on the hill,
small against the too-green Gippsland grass,
this man who collared-and-tied, sodden and shaken up,
drove their old truck to market and to Mass.

Returning to her task, she spelled it out
in her plain cursive hand. Asked the Ford boss could he build
a cross-breed of a car: part coupe and part box.
With his help, she would be the midwife
to the thing that like herself, would grow in time
to be a farmer's steady mate. He said he would.

Scones set to rise, she sits and stares across the years,
bent fingers trace the worn pine table top.
Outside, the hill paddock still stretches up blue green
nearer to heaven with each coming spring
and Jess is barking, splashing through the creek
to grand-children come calling in the family ute. 

I love this poem. It's the country girl in me!

Matron: Irene Melville Drummond, war hero, 1905 -1942 Acrylic on canvas 2010

Matron: Irene Melville Drummond, war hero, 1905 -1942
By Ynes Sanz

who doesn't yearn for mother love
a courage-under-fire kind of love
the mentioned-in-dispatches variety
the sort of love that [when you're in waist-deep with guns at you back and no way
can still find the heart and the guts to say [looking straight ahead so no shared glance will make you crack]
very steadily [so that on hearing her voice you don't falter]
spelling it out very clearly [so there can be no mistake about her words]
something that will never leave you
like 'Chin up girls, I'm proud of you and I love you all'

Other women whose lives inspired Ynes to write poetry about them are: [there are 40 in total in 'Fanny The Flying Housewife']
Amy Johnson, pilot, 1903 - 1943
Josephine Baker, exotic dancer, 1906 -1975
Gertrude Stein, writer, 1874 - 1946
Susan Trevers, 'La Miss', French Foreign Legionnaire, war hero, 1909 - 2003
Doris Taylor, founder, Meals on Wheels, 1901 - 1968

You can find more of Ynes's work at:

So, back to wonder. Ynes's poems make me wonder about the lives of others, those brave and magnificent hoydens embracing life. Her poems make me wonder about Ynes's own wonderings, the catalytic links and inspirations that spark those first words of any poem. I wonder about my mother's wonderings, my grandmother's wonderings. Poetry and art [of all kinds] gives others a special insight into the artist's mind and indeed, soul. It is a private and intimate place which conjures and creates gifts for you and me. These gifts can be tangible, but I suspect the most precious gift is the invitation to wonder too.