Sunday, May 15, 2011


Seeing The Truth Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

On Thursday I had a really wonderful day. I met up with a friend who I have known since the early 1980s, but whilst we now both live in Brisbane, we very rarely see each other. My friend's name is Heather Price. We first met each other in Goondiwindi when Heather and her then-husband, and I and my then-husband, learnt to play Bridge! Heather and I were both involved in many of the art activities Goondiwindi offered.

On Thursday Heather and I went for a very special walk in the bush at the foothills of Mt. Cootha, just here in Brisbane...yes, we have the bush in ready access to the metropolis! We connected with the natural environment around us and at one point had a discussion about something we each identified in the other...and that is... an ability to see the vast and the intimate, simultaneously. We discussed that perhaps we had developed this ability to 'see' this way, and to also conceptualise it, because our childhoods, and much of adult lives, had been spent in the vast expanse of the Australian rural landscape. I grew up on the flat treeless plain of Pirrunuan, just outside Dalby, on the Darling Downs, in Queensland. Heather grew up in the flat expanses of the land around Moree, in north western New South Wales.

Regular readers of this BLOG will know how excited I felt when Heather and I recognised that each had this innate sense, as I have written about close and far distance, the macro and micro and multiple perspectives before. But, what is it about living in a vast landscape that entices somone to 'see' life and the world around, and within, in ways that are provoked by space and distance...and ultimately time? Both, Heather and I, have absorbed our experiences with distance, in ways which inform our personal and professional as an artist and Heather as a Creative Counsellor and Healer [and much much more!].

Heather's and my familial heritages are also similar.We both come from a long ancestry of farmers or people who worked on the land and /or sea. We wondered if our innate sense to 'see' the vast and intimate simultaneously, is not just about us, but also about those who came before us. Regular readers of this BLOG will know what I would say...yes, my ancestry will have influenced my powers of observation of and within vastness. Also, as a woman, I resonate with all the other women who lived my ancestry, who lived in remote landscapes, raised families, and tended to community and cultural development in their locales.

There is something about seemingly endless space, that compels you to notice, and take comfort in, the minutiae-the cracks in the dry earth, whispery tuffs of clouds, insects, and so on...but there is more... it's as if the vastness cannot hide its energy.

Before I go on, I know that by now you'll be intrigued by Heather's story. So, here's her website. Enjoy!

To unravel some of my thoughts about multiple perspectives and distance, I will 'talk' about the three new paintings I have uploaded. At the bottom of this BLOG post I will list other posts where I also 'talk' about perspective, distance, the vast and intimate.

The painting above 'Seeing The Truth' is one of my ambiguous landscapes, created with my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life motif. For me, and I suspect also for Heather, seeing the landscape is not just about what we literally see. In this painting I have tried to reveal the energy that exists above and below the earth/land. In a way this is like a cross section of sky and land, revealing intimacies within the vastness of both. The tree pulses with a vascular like energy in the sky as well as below the earth, yet the two energies are connected, like roots are to a tree. In an age where we plunder the resources inside the earth, I think we forget that, whilst unseen, it is still an integral part of our landscape. What happens underneath affects what happens above. Just because we cannot literally see it, does not mean we can forget about it. Really 'seeing' means we need to use our imaginatons, to use our mind's eye, to 'see' those forces which propel not just our earthly existence, but also the one we share with the Universe...or Multiverse.

Cooked With Gas Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

Regular readers will recognise that this next painting 'Cooked With Gas' is one of my 'quiet activist' paintings. Yes, it is a comment on the Coal Seam Gas [CSG] industry, which potentially threatens the quality of underground and above ground water supplies, soil and air quality and rural social fabric, not only in Australia but elsewhere in the world. Yes, I have written about this before, but, today I am writing from the perspective of vastness and intimacy.

This painting was inspired by an aerial photo of  CSG activity near Chinchilla, which is a bit further west from Dalby, where I grew up. The photo showed the chaotic spider web like patterning of gas wells and access roads to each well, that criss cross the landscape.

I have painted the roads with small red $ signs and the well sites with yellow $ signs. The $ signs question how we 'value' our land and resources. The fact that the viewer cannot readily discern the $ signs until up close, 'asks' the question ,' Have you noticed?' The movement of the viewer from far-to close-to far distance is a 'dance' which I like to provoke. It replicates the same 'dance' that I enjoy as I move back and forth from a painting examining it from close and far distance, making decisions of aesthetics and meaning. As I have written before, this back and forth 'dance' may be one we all need to learn, in order to live sustainably and compassionately, in this increasingly globalised world in which we live locally.

Whilst 'Cooked With Gas' can be viewed as an expanse of vastness seen from the air, it could also be a cross section of a coal seam, revealing the fissures created by fracking ie: the blasting process used to crack the coal in the seam to release the methane gas to be collected, along with water 'byproduct'.  So, under the earth, in the quiet intimacy of  ancient depths, man induced changes will not go un-noticed! In the first painting 'Seeing The Truth' the tree-of-life which forms the earth, is painted in red to stress its vascular life nurturing nature. In 'Cooked With Gas' red $ signs reduces the 'bood' of the earth by limiting its 'value' to one dimension.

I Am A Tree Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

This next painting 'I Am A Tree' places the female figure at the centre. She is the site of all growth. She is the land, the sea, the sky. She is connected to everything, the Universe or Multiverse. She folds duality so that it is no longer recognisable as such. She embraces the vastness with intimate strokes of love and compassion. She is the horizon, as well as being that which exists beyond it...and this horizon may be within us.  She is the landscape in its universal entirity, as well as its co-existing metaphor, the landscape of soul.

She is me, she is you, she is the feminine power that exists within us all...male and female.


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