Thursday, September 01, 2011


Murray Darling Currency Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm
Click on the image to make it larger.

This latest painting Murray Darling Currency falls into my 'quiet activist' work. It is political, although not initially overtly political. However, as the viewer ponders the painting, and notices various elements, commentary on issues surrounding the Murray Darling Basin/catchment is obvious. Check out this site for information on the importance of the Murray Darling Basin for Australian agriculture and water [obviously both related issues].

This new painting follows a work on paper, by the same title, which I painted last year.

                                      Murray Darling Currency Gouache on paper 52 x 63 cm [framed]

In both paintings the area of the Murray Darling Basin is painted with small blue $ signs to pose questions of value, all kinds of 'value'. The word 'currency' in the title deliberately plays with its many meanings, from water flow, to money, to contemporaneousness and political currency. The viewer does not discern the small $ sign when looking at the painting from a distance. They become evident as the viewer moves closer. This is a deliberate 'tactic' on my part to ask, 'Have you noticed?' Issues surrounding water supply and management, food production, soil nutrient sustainability, farmer returns, mining impacts, social cohesion, regional development and more all play their part in the life of the Murray Darling Basin.

In both the oil and the work on paper the 'landscape' is created with my much loved tree-of-life motif. In each case the tree spills out from the bottom left to cascade into land and sea. In the oil painting I have painted the continent of Australia depicting rainfall areas ie: the darker the green the more rainfall. The tree-of-life is a perfect life symbol as it denotes systems which give and propel life. Just as the body's vascular system propels life, the earth's water systems also propel life. The Murray Darling Basin is a perfect example of a life giving and propelling water system. When understood as a life system, like a vascular one, then questions of value take on a different perspective...don't they?

The work on paper Murray Darling Currency will be in my exhibition 'Paradise' opening next week 9th September in Melbourne [details below]. I will have a few of my 'quiet activist' paintings in the exhibition as triggers to pose questions about environmental degradation and concepts of paradise lost. Indeed, what if THIS is paradise and human quests to seek paradise eleswhere 'out there' blind us to the paradise of here and now?

The new large oil painting  Murray Darling Currency will not be in the exhibition as I just finished it. All the paintings for 'Paradise' went off to Melbourne on Monday.


Exhibition Dates: 8 September - 8 October
Purgatory Artspace
170 Abbotsford St, North Melbourne
Tuesday - Saturday 11 am - 5 pm
03 9329 1800

AND Please read this wonderful article Carolyn McDowall from 'thecultureconcept circle' wrote about my work and 'Paradise'.


On Tuesday and Wednesday this week I attended a fascinating symposium at the University of Queensland. The symposium  was called:
Virtual Anatomies: The Cultural Impact of New Medical Imaging Technologies
Regular readers of my BLOG will probably know why such a symposium interests me. Over many years many scientists and doctors have asked if I have had medical or scientific training because they see vascular or reproductive systems in my work. Sometimes my trees look like brains or kidneys, cross sections of tissue or cells. [I have no medical or scientific training other than senior biology!] Yet, these same shapes, cross sections and so on can also take on landscape qualities, such as aerial views of water systems or mountain ranges, cross sections of land and so on. The body as site and site as body are the things that interest me. Even beyond the boundaries of earth...body as cosmos, cosmos as body. As regular readers know, I sometimes take the tree-of-life into the cosmos, to help find its roots in the beginning of time, as well as to reveal its symbolic potency in the 21st century.


1 comment:

Audubon Ron said...

In both paintings there appears at first to be two different forms of movement and non-movement.

The bottom painting the branches of the tree seem to create a “wave” action stemming from the fixed base of the tree. The tree of life nourishes, while the continent is static and is recharged.

The painting above has less movement from the tree of life and the continent appears tacked to the wall. In this painting the continent doesn’t appear to float but appears grounded.

What is more interesting are the colors in both paintings. The bottom suggests a vibrant life, while the above seems to begin to fade in the yellow and green.
I wonder if perhaps since the top painting was recent of the bottom, if your subconscious mind was sending the alarm, the continent is losing vitality?

I think these two hanging side-by-side would make a very interesting contrast.