Friday, December 28, 2012


I spent Christmas with my parents and family, and have not done any artwork of my own since I finished Storm. But, that's ok because I invite you to take a trip through my BLOG to see recent work [and older work] or you can visit my website

Also here's the invitation to my solo exhibition in Melbourne Jan/Feb 2013
Please click HERE to see some of the paintings

The painting on the invitation is Ad Infinitum Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm


Just before Christmas I spent nearly a day at QAGOMA ie: Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. For overseas readers, Queensland's State Institutional Art Gallery has two buildings both overlooking the Brisbane River, but separated by a boulevard-like area. The Queensland State Library sits in the middle of the two gallery buildings. Here's a site plan for you.

Currently, QAGOMA is exhibiting the APT7 ie: Asia Pacific Triennial. Every three years since 1993 the gallery mounts this 'flagship contemporary art event' which reveals and exhibits art from the Asia/Pacific region. It is a unique triennial and has placed QAGOMA on a very sure international cultural footing.

This mammoth exhibition has some fascinating art and in this BLOG post I thought I'd write about some of the exhibits that really grabbed my attention in various ways and for various reasons. If you live in or near Brisbane definitely go along to see APT7. If you are going to be visiting Brisbane between now and 14 April 2013 put the APT7 on your list of things to do.

Takahiro Iwasaki
When I walked around a corner in GOMA and saw Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki's Reflection Model [Perfect Bliss] [2010-12] I felt my heart miss a beat. It really is beautiful and monumental, even though not oversized. This work is a model of the Houdo [Phoenix Pavilion] built in 1053 near Kyoto in Japan. But, there is a twist. The viewer sees a building as if reflecting itself like a conjoined twin. The pale wooden [cyprus] meticulously built structure hangs from the gallery ceiling, like some kind of hovering spaceship emitting history. It's monumentality lies in its sense of presence. It seems to take hold of time.

An-My Le
The Events Ashore [2005-2008] series of photographs by Vietnamese born An-My Le are quietly arresting. That probably sounds contradictory. I will explain. I initially walked past the set of photographs just glancing at them, but something pulled me back. I was compelled to look more closely. The images of American soldiers, sometimes with other people, were not taken at moments of catastrophic terror or in a bloody aftermath. Instead Le captures incidental moments, replete with emotions that quietly draw the viewer into the ongoing saga of military involvement and activity. This saga, as Le visually suggests, includes non-combative moments and activities. Each image provokes questions. In attempting to answer these questions it becomes apparent that there may be no answers or a need for them, because the very act of questioning embraces the rawness of humanity and reminds us that we are all connected.

Sheila Makhijani
I loved Indian artist Sheila Makhijani's paintings. Two of them are Touch Down 2012 and More Or Less Like This 2012, both oil on canvas.  Up close and from a distance Makhijani's paintings sang a vision to me. This may sound strange because the paintings are abstract with no representational elements. The vision was something that I sensed, as if all my faculties were stirred. That's probably why I felt compelled to write 'sang a vision to me' as if I 'heard' and saw the vision simultaneously, without sensory division. In fact, her paintings have that quality, which I strive be both vast and intimate at the same time...a sense of simultaneousness. Makhijani's use of paint is luscious, confident and sensual.

Parastou Forouhar
Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar's installation Written Room [1999 ongoing] was another work that  transported me. Farouhar has written Farsi calligraphy in black paint, on floor and walls, in a large white space in GOMA. Upon entering the room I felt immediately destablised, but whilst it was noticeable it did not trouble me, because I also felt beauty and its accompanying pathos. I wished I knew what the words meant, but I learnt that the script is made up of partial phrases and broken words, so presumably even if you could read Farsi, literal meaning would still slip away; the trap of prosaic didacticism beautifully ignored and avoided. I almost had to hold my arms tightly around me because I felt like dancing, twirling and whirling in this space of words I did not know, as if in the dizziness of dance visual and sentient elements would coalesce and I would understand. If I was a child maybe I would not have let propriety take hold!

*Please check out the Queensland Art Gallery's FLIKR stream of images taken of Paratou Forouhar creating her APT7 Written Room

Daniel Boyd
Another work I really enjoyed was young Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd's multi channel video A Darker Shade Of Dark [2012]. Upon entering the darkened room I was enveloped by the cosmos! Regular readers will know how much I would have loved that and why! The multi screens swathed the room in fuidly moving light and dark glimpses of colourful pulsing stars and celestial bodies. Boyd has used dots to create this really amazing experience. And, it really is an experience rather than something the viewer observes. It is an experience because the viewer is no longer an observer, but a star too and very much part of the cosmic glow. I really felt embraced and included by Boyd's A Darker Shade Of Dark knowing that I, like all of you, am part of the Universal cosmic dust.

Edwin Roseno
Edwin Roseno's Green Hypermarket [2011-12] consisting of 150 round photographs varyiously sized, dominates a major wall in the Queensland Art Gallery. It demands attention, even without you knowing its message critiquing consumerism. It is visually stunning. So much so, that from a distance I thought the images of plants in cans were real objects placed like a sculptural montage installation.

Almagul Menlibayeva
In a section of the APT7 called 'Traversing West Asia' Kazakhstani born artist Almagul Menlibayeva's video Kurchatov 22 [2012] tells us about Cold War Russian atomic bomb testing in northern Kazakhstan. It is a disturbing video and a departure from the more raptuous, subtle and lyrical works I've already written about. It held my attention. I also learnt something and because the intent to tell the viewer about the atrociousness of the atomic bomb testing is honest and direct from the very beginning, I welcomed the lesson. The delivery, via a five channel projection, variously portrayed scenes of a desolate landscape or townscape, people recounting in documentary style their memories of bomb blasts, and performative images. Watching Kurchatov 22 at a time when war, violence and mindless massacres continue around the world left me feeling angry at humanity's continuing lack of compassion. Surely we can do better! I've included Kurchatov in my list of work I enjoyed, and grabbed my attention, because despite feeling angry this work has continued, even days later, to make me think. In Menlibayeva's own words the 'romantic punk shamanism' is working!

So, if you visit APT7 enjoy it! There are 75 artists and artist groups from 27 countries across the broad Asia/Pacific region, so there is plenty to see! I will definitely be returning for more visits.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Storm Oil on linen 85 x 150 cm
If you read my last post Back On Earth you will see from this new painting Storm that I have stayed on Earth...well maybe! Storm, is a bit more ambiguous than another recent painting Night Time Electric Storm
Whilst Storm is inspired by memories of my childhood, growing up on my parent's grain farm on the flat treeless Pirrinuan Plain, between Dalby and Jimbour on Queensland's fertile Darling Downs, it also evokes a sense of other-worldness. And, this other-worldness could be in the depths of pre-human history, when wild and tempestuous elements collided to form what would become our home, Earth. It could also be in some far distant post-human future when wild and tempestuous elements collide to see the annihilation of what has been our home, Earth. Yet, Storm could be a landscape of a compeletely different planet! With robotic probes on Mars and exploratory craft swinging their way around the galaxy, it's fun to imagine all kinds of landscape! That's why I advocate un-tethering notions of landscape from being Earth-bound.
We live in an era where research has vastly stretched our understanding of both the quantum and cosmic worlds. Surely we can stretch our imaginations to 'landscapes' which suggest we have an appreciation of an environment that is universal. In my last post Back on Earth I have noted a couple of links to previous posts about untethering landscape.  I suggest that untethering landscape from Earth, provides the opportunity for new perspectives. One of these is to look back at Earth literally and metaphorically. In doing this I suggest it becomes clearly apparent that all humanity must be mindful of sustainable practices because we only have one real home....Earth.
As I was painting Storm I was also thinking about landscape as metaphor. I have previously written about landscape, and its elements, as metaphors for the human psyche eg: mountains are a metaphor for overcoming adversity. Here are a few previous posts for you!  Mountains , The Moon , To Grok Landscape , Horizons 
So, if landscape and its elements can be metaphors for the psyche, what human conditions or states can a 'storm' be a metaphor for? I am sure you have lots of thoughts about this one! Firstly, I'd suggest that as a collective [ie: all humanity] the concept of  'storm' is immediately understandable. As I write this, it is the end of 2012 and the world is still affected by the Global Financial Crisis, a massive 'storm' severely compromising individual, national and global economic wealth and sustainability. Violence and civil unrest continues in various places around the world, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka etc. Environmental sustainability is on a tightrope. National domestic violence, where dreadful acts are perpetrated against fellow countrymen have erupted in the USA seeing very young children massacred at school. Let's not go on...its too awful. Yet, each one of these forces humanity [the collective] to reflect. But, reflection is not enough...where's the affective action that forces change at mass, collective levels?
The concept of 'storm' is also understandable from an individual point of view. Our inner lives are a constant 'play' between calm and stormy waters. Funny how water is a symbol of the subconscious!
I suspect, as in nature, the ebb and flow of calm and stormy waters, is an intrinsic part of being human. I also suspect that there may well be a spiral or evolutionary path shaping how we deal with 'stormy weather'. Maybe if we feel things are particularly stormy we know we are being challenged with a pivotal moment where affective action can make massive differences. Are we game to meet the challenge?
This takes me to my new painting. Yes, as I sit or stand in front of my easel in my studio...hang on garage....I think about all sorts of things. I love what I do and I love where my thoughts take me.
The lightning lights up the stormy night sky garnering universal energy and dispersing it through the land. I love the way the lightning appears like the roots of a tree or an upside down tree...I also love the red network of tree-like branches pulsing energy through the land. Regular readers will know of my obsession, yes I admit it, with the age-old transcultural/religious tree of life symbol. Here it is again: that sense of energy, the pulse of life offering hope, yet challenging us to find a branch, or even a twig, to help us pass through the storm.
Please check out my brother, Wilfred Brimblecombe's, new BLOG Photography, Stories, Ephemera Future and Past. Lots of great photographs from his and my childhood farm environment and more. He is a camera enthusiast so writes about the tech stuff too. He works in the IT world which has included super computing, which I think is pretty impressive!
My other brother Douglas Brimblecombe is Chairman of Board for the Anywhere Theatre Festival,
which is about performance any place but a theatre. Great innovative concept, taking off here in Brisbane. Performances in back yards, trains, virtual, unused lots and more. They are asking for submissions NOW.
Here's a quote from the Anywhere Theatre Festival staff and baord page:
Paul Osuch is the Founder and Volunteer Artistic Director of Anywhere Theatre Festival Ltd, a festival for performance anywhere but a theatre. In two years, the festival has grown to be a major community based fringe festival with more performances than the major Brisbane Festival run by volunteers.
My next solo exhibition

Dates: Wednesday 30 January - Saturday 17 February
Opening Function: Saturday 9 February 2-4 pm: I will be there!
Address: 1st Floor 170 Abbotsford St, Nth Melbourne.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11am - 5pm
PH: 03 9329 1860
Purgatory Artspace is the project space attached to Gallery Smith.

I've made a 'Cosmology Gallery' on my website with some of the paintings that may be in COSMOLOGY

Friday, December 14, 2012


Childhood Memory Oil on linen 55 x 80 cm 2001-02

Why did I call this post Back On Earth? Well...because some of my more recent paintings have delved into the vast reaches of outer space, leaving the 'safe' shores of Earth's environment. Please check out recent post When It Rained On Mars and Cosmic Ouroborus. Indeed my forthcoming exhibition at Purgatory Artspace in North Melbourne is called Cosmology!

I have a great interest in untethering ideas of 'landscape' from Earth bound notions. Why? Because, as contemporary cosmological research reveals, our environment is not only bound by Earth's dimensions. Our 'environment' is one of accelerating universal antimonies ie: quantum intimacies and vast, almost unbelievable, horizons. For us to appreciate and gain perspective of our universal 'place' I suggest we need to visualise beyond the safety of Earth's immediate horizons. Launching oneself, imaginatively, to a place where perspective reveals new insights into sustaining life on Earth...after all, currently, it is our [all of us] only home. I have previously written about Untethering Landscape and Untethering Landscape [Revolutionary?]

In this post I am reflecting upon some of my past Earth-bound landscapes with an eye on a very new Earth-bound painting Night Time Electric Storm [Across The Flat Plain] which is below. In this new painting, which I wrote about in the BLOG post just prior to this one, I have returned to Earth! I feel I have returned on the electric conduits from 'Heaven'...yes...the lightening!

Childhood Memory Oil on linen 55 x 80 cm
The painting above Childhood Memory is over ten years older than Night Time Electric Storm, yet the flat horizon of my childhood home persists. Both paintings recall a landscape that provided a vastness of space for imagining and wondering. I had not realised, until I was searching through my images, how similar the two paintings are, even though they 'speak' about totally different conditions. Childhood Memory recalls a fine weather day, clear skies and heat. Night Time Electric Storm recalls how the quietness of space can be transformed into a virulent play of light and dark.

I am working on a new painting which also, and again, explores the virulence of stormy weather across a flat plain. Seems like I am staying on Earth for just a tad longer!

Night Time Electric Storm [Across The Flat Plain] Oil on linen 55 x 80 cm 2012

I thought I'd upload some of my other Earth-bound landscapes.

Space and Time Oil on linen 80 x 100 cm 2001
Space and Time [above] a multi-horizoned landscape, marked by the energy held within the land and sky, heralds my interest in launching myself off the planet! Please note the strips of rain falling from two horizons. Regular readers will know that I paint strips of rain on distant horizons, sometimes even with small $ signs, to indicate and question how we 'value' natural resources. Regular readers will also know that recently I painted a Martian 'landscape' where strips of rain fall from a red sky. See When It Rained On Mars at the bottom of the post.

When I Painted The Wind oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2001
I really like When I Painted The Wind because again it is a memory of childhood, lying in the soft green clover, before the bindies appeared, watching the sky and feeling the wind or breeze brushing across my face, tickling and flirting with my unruly hair. What interests me now is the red energy connecting land and sky, seemingly travelling beyond the sky to the vastness of Space.
Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2005
I ask you to check out the photo just below and compare it with my work on paper At Close Distance [just above]. The photo was taken in 1981 by my brother Wilfred Brimblecombe It is a photo of a sunset across the Pirrinuan flat plain where we grew up. You can tell we have been both very influenced by our childhood home and the amazing space and vastness it revelled in!! I had not seen this photo until he uploaded it to a recent post on his BLOG called Pirrinuan Sunset. It is also interesting to compare it with my painting Childhood Memory.
Wilfred's new BLOG is well worth keeping an eye on!
Pirrinuan Sunset, Wilfred Brimblecombe, May 1981.
Pirrinuan Sunset Wilfred Brimblecombe 1981

Watching Gouache on paper 30 x 42 [unframed] 2003
I remember when I painted Watching. I was thinking about how farmers watch the sky. They watch it, during drought, hoping for rain. The watch it even when it does rain, because too much rain can be a disaster. Even a little rain, especially at harvest time, can cause great anxiety. I've seen my Father, his fellow farmers, and those I knew when I lived in Goondiwindi gaze at the sky, reading its signs and signals with appreciation or fear depending on the circumstance.
It seems I was influenced by this gaze upwards towards the sky!  Yet, Watching suggests that perhaps I was already above the clouds, flying and looking down onto land ploughed and prepared for planting. Maybe? What I like is the possibility of multi perspectives.
And, that takes me...and Mars!

When It Rained On Mars oil on linen 85 x 150 cm 2012
If you are interested in any of these paintings please contact me. Childhood Memory has sold.
My next solo exhibition

Dates: Wednesday 30 January - Saturday 17 February
Opening Function: Saturday 9 February 2-4 pm: I will be there!
Address: 1st Floor 170 Abbotsford St, Nth Melbourne.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11am - 5pm
PH: 03 9329 1860
Purgatory Artspace is the project space attached to Gallery Smith.

I've made a 'Cosmology Gallery' on my website with some of the paintings that may be in COSMOLOGY
Virtual gallery Freshly Baked Gallery currently has their Launch Collection 'showing' and I am one of the 35 artists from around the world in this exhibition. Please check it out HERE
                               Photo: Brisbane-based artist, Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox is a self-professed colour fanatic, who describes her artworks as ‘scapes’. These ‘scapes’ are often hundreds of thousands of tiny shapes or strokes that combine for a huge, heaving wave of colour.

We love this piece called 'Gate' - part of our launch collection >
My painting Gate on the 'wall' at Freshly Baked Gallery Launch Collection exhibition
Click HERE to be taken directly to my 'wall'
Small Oil on Linen Paintings Under $1,000 click HERE
Works on Paper Under $1000 click HERE

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Night Time Electric Storm [Across The Flat Plain] Oil on linen 55 x 80 cm
In recent weeks wild electric storms have sparked their way across Queensland. A couple of weeks ago, around mid-day, I was caught in a wild storm as I was driving along the very busy Coronation Drive, here in Brisbane. I, and many other drivers, had to stop, turn on our warning lights and sit out the storm. We had to stop because the rain was so heavy there was no visibility. The wind played havoc with nearby trees and anything laying loose on the ground. Thankfully only small hail stones fell from the sky crashing harmlessly into my car. Much larger ones apparently pummelled properties, gardens and cars in neighbouring suburbs. I was lucky.
Again a couple of weeks ago I was caught in another storm, but managed to shelter under a service station's roof. This time it was dusk. As the night sky enveloped, lightning spectacularly lit up the sky. From my safe haven, I marvelled at nature's electric 'personality'. 
For readers from overseas, summer-time storms are common in Queensland and Australia. Often they do not produce much rain, but they certainly provide a spectacle and unfortunately they also often cause major damage. If there is rain, it can fall very heavily, causing flash flooding in both city and country.
These recent spectacular storms have reminded me of the storms I witnessesed and experienced as a child on my parent's farm on the flat treeless Pirrinuan Plain, betweeen Dalby and Jimbour, on Queensland's fertile Darling Downs. My childhood environ was often referred to 'God's own country' because the rich deep black soil could grow anything.
The flatness of the landscape, with its endless horizons [regular readers will know I have written about these before] provided a broad canvas for nature's displays. These included relentless blue skies with wisps of white clouds floating playfully, greenish coloured clouds menacingly promising hail and causing my Father distress about potential crop damage, and night time magic whispering from the twinkling Milky Way.  
Another night time sky was a totally black one. Totally black because storm clouds swamped the glitter of stars and suffocated moon shine. However, storms accompanied by electic lightning, provided a 'show' unlike any other. Flashes of stark white light seemingly from Heaven struck the ground with a shocking immediacy that both terrified and astonished. Momentary silhouettes of familiar landmarks and shapes transformed the landscape into a beautiful but almost night marish setting.
As a child, I was never really scared during these wild storms, yet I knew people [and animals] who were/are. Dogs particularly hate wild electric storms of lightening and thunder! I've owned a number of dogs who vigourously welcome being allowed inside during a storm.
Night Time Electric Storm [Across The Flat Plain] Oil on linen 55 x 80 cm
My new painting Night Time Electric Storm [Across The Flat Plain] is inspired by my childhood memories and recent storm events here in Brisbane. It is also triggered by photographs my brother Wilfred Brimblecombe has uploaded onto his new BLOG  particularly those he uploaded on posts dated December 1 and 2 [Pirrinuan Tornado]. These photographs are of our childhood landscape and they stir sentient memories of the open space and endless horizons, that embraced those who lived there in an ongoing performance, which demanded 'audience' participation. Without barriers, such as hills and mountains, bushland and forests the open space enveloped us.
There was and is no escape. No hiding.
In Night Time Electric Storm [Across The Flat Plain] I have painted a wild electric storm that lights up a night sky, revealing a silhouette of existence on a distant horizon. The silos on the right, a sign of human productivity, yet seemingly insignificant aganst electrically charged nature. Anyone who has exerienced nature's 'whiplash' through storm, hurricane, tornado, flood, fire, volcano, earth quake is humbled. The weaving red line, which I was compelled to paint, suggests potency, fertility, fury, passion. It tells us that underlying energy forces exist. It also draws us into the scene inviting us to be part of nature's passion.
I like the way the lightning appears like upside down trees...regular readers will know why. The age-old trancultural/religious tree-of-life symbol is a major visual guide in my work. The lightning seems to re-energise life at the same time as tantalisingly revealing life's core secrets [momentarily].

Saturday, December 01, 2012


  When It Rained On Mars? Oil on linen 85 x 150 cm
My new painting When It Rained On Mars? is a fanciful one! However, it is based on a proposition that billions of years ago Mars may have had the kind of atmosphere and temperature range that allowed for rain. This proposition was also mentioned in a fascinating presentation Saturday Night 'Live' which I recently attended at the Thomas Brisbane Planetarium 
Scientists base the proposition on various elements including geographical formations and geochemical analysis of Martian soils. However, the question whether rain fell or not, is still in the realms of the 'what if?' Here's a small selection of some interesting articles which discuss questions about water, rain and Mars. I'll leave it to you to do more research. There's a lot out there.

'WHEN IT RAINED ON MARS?' Oil on linen 85 x 150 cm

Now to my painting. Yes, it is a landscape! But, not an Earth bound one! The predominant redness is simply because Mars is called  the 'Red Planet' due to its reddish appearance in the night sky. The ancient Egyptians called it Har decher, which means 'Red One'. Even the name Mars [God of War] references the colour as one symbolic of strength, battles, blood, violence. But, apparently the colour is due to a thin dusty layer of iron oxide rust. Check out Why Mars is Called The Red Planet by John Carl Villanueva in Universe Today for  more information and further links.   
I've used my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life to create the multi layered land formation and to indicate the universal and celestial connections that 'speak' of all life across the vast distances of time and space.
Strips of colourful 'rain' fall from the vibrantly red sky. I've painted these strips in varying colours because who knows what rain on Mars looked like! Who knows what affects light reflecting off water droplets falling through rusty red dust might look like! Who knows? But, it is great to imagine!
I've painted the strips of rain like I have painted strips of rain in my more obviously Earth bound landscapes. Why? Well, I grew up on a flat treeless plain outside Dalby, on the fertile Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia. I then spent 18 years living further west in a place called Goondiwindi. I've spent many hours driving west, into the vast Australian landscape, witnessing the fall of rain as strips on distant horizons. I now live in the city, but strips of rain on the horizon stir my memories! Memories of hope and fear. Below are a couple of my Earth bound landscapes depicting strips of rain.
Given global issues regarding to water, fresh water, I believe the notion of water on Mars, or anywhere else for that matter, strikes our imaginations making us feel less alone. Earth and the human body are %70 water. Yes, we are mostly water! There must be some kind of attraction, pull, urge, lure, magnetism between us and water, even hypothetical water! Our imaginations, or is it our will to survive, draws us towards water..the sustenance of life. Water equates with hope, which is the suggestion in the painting Hope In The Distance below. Issues of water also engender fear...fear of not having enough, fear of contamination, fear of dying.
 Hope In The Distance Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2010 SOLD
$oils Ain't $oils Anymore! Oil on linen 70 x 100 cm 2010 
My next solo exhibition
Dates: Wednesday 30 January - Saturday 17 February
Opening Function: Saturday 9 February 2-4 pm: I will be there!
Address: 1st Floor 170 Abbotsford St, Nth Melbourne.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11am - 5pm
PH: 03 9329 1860
Purgatory Artspace is the project space attached to Gallery Smith.

Monday, November 26, 2012


 Tree-of-Life Time Travelling Oil on linen 85 x 150 cm

I am looking forward to my next solo exhibition, which will be at Purgatory Artspace, in North Melbourne, Australia.

I am calling the exhibition COSMOLOGY

Dates: Wednesday 30 January - Saturday 17 February
Opening Function: Saturday 9 February 2-4 pm: I will be there!
Address: 1st Floor 170 Abbotsford St, Nth Melbourne.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11am - 5pm
PH: 03 9329 1860

Purgatory Artspace is the project space attached to Gallery Smith.

I've made a 'Cosmology Gallery' on my website with some of the paintings that may be in COSMOLOGY

Ad Infinitum? Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm
Regular readers will know why I have called my show COSMOLOGY! My interests in the distances between the nano and vast, plus multi perspectives [even seen simultaneously], are apparent in my paintings. Coupled with these is an interest in teasing out the potencies of age-old symbols, such as the tree-of-life and the ouroborus, to determine whether they can be visually interpreted with 21st century 'eyes', to assist us in understanding our place in the cosmos. Over eons, age-old symbols have helped people position themselves within a contemporary milieu. I believe these same symbols carry secrets that are pertinent for us today. We just have to engage our skills of imagination and intellect in a dance with science, to confidently allow the symbols to 'speak' to us as we envision distances propelling in all directions.
Sometimes these distances, so hard to comprehend, can overwhelm. Yet, they can also, make us acutely aware that Earth is [currently] our only possible home. All of us call Earth home and I'd like to think it is within our capabilities to work together to ensure this home is sustained as a healthy and peaceful place to live. Am I suggesting a utopic, idealist view? Well, taking a new perspective or even a multi-one seen simultaneously, may enable us to remove the utopic veil that implies the unachievable thus keeping our perspective myopic.
There are questions too about keeping Space free of human detritus. Sorry... we have already failed! I recently attended a fascinating presentation at Brisbane's Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium where an image of the currently in-use, as well as decommissioned satelites, was shown. Each one was indicated by a light. It was certainly a compelling image, which struck a sense of guilt.

Cosmic Ouroboros Oil on linen 120 x 150 cm
I am not interested in illustrating or recording facts, figures, examples in my work. I am not a scientist, yet I am very interested in scientific ideas, especially when they stir my imagination and wonder. Ever since I was very young I have been intrigued by the urge for discovery. As a pre-teen I devoured books about the lives of famous scientists eg: Jenner, Curie, Fleming, Marconi and others. I remember enjoying reading about the things, events and ideas that lead to their important discoveries.
Alas, Science was very poorly taught at the primary school I attended and by the time I was starting secondary school my interest in Science was severely curtailed. Even worse. my confidence was eroded. An interesting was implied that because I was good at Art and not so good at Maths, then how could I possibly be any good at Science! Yes, I can remember a particular teacher I had for grade 4 and 5 saying things [cruel things too] that clearly indicated his uneducated biases.
However, achieving high marks [ie: distinctions] in Senior Biology did restore some of my faith in my abilities. At University I studied a year long History of Science subject. It was the best, most rewarding subject I have ever studied, even compared with those subjects in my double major in Art History! This History of Science subject, taught by Prof. Mac Hamilton, at the University of Queensland, re-stirred my interest in the realms of the unkown, the 'what ifs?' of the Universe and the 'why?' questions that see the intersection of critical/scientific thinking and imagination.
I've written about my interest in cosmology before:

Friday, November 16, 2012


Into The Symphony Oil on linen 120 x 160 2008

Art therapy, facilitated by a trained art therapist, has a role in counselling and psychotherapy with potential to help reveal psychological wounds, as well help heal them. This link will provide you with more information. Art therapy, as a professional practice is worthwhile.

An additional link [added here June 2020] for a good overview of Art Therapy is at Most Craft/ Art Therapy Exercises

I am not an art therapist and this post is not about art therapy, as a professional practice.

However, in many quarters, the arts are perceived, and are often described as, being 'therapeutic'.

BUT, as an artist I am cautious of this word 'therapeutic'. Why? Because it is a loose word...a word that, for me at least, hinges on an illusion of worth. It's a word that, if partnered with the arts, I believe, can transfer, stir and even augment collective pathologies. It is a word that sounds important, but is it? Maybe it is, in fact, dangerous?

I have thought about this issue over many years. But, last night I attended a fascinating presentation at the Qld Jung Society by Dr. Jennifer Leigh Selig. The title of her presentation was The Content of their Complexes:  The Archetype of the Wounded Leader as Explored Through Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama.  She spoke about the relationship between a leader and his/her society/culture and the projections from both onto the other ie: a leader's core complex [in the Jungian sense] will essentially be the one permeating society at the time and vice versa. In the transference state, in the centre of the relationship, are two possibilities. One is a kind of transcendence, over time, beyond the prevailing issue for both the leader and the society, where the symphony of life can be heard clearly. The other possibility is sinking into the complex's pathology leading to cynicism, depression, violence...a place where the symphony's music is muffled. The latter is perhaps where many societies find themselves today? Alas.

Collective Memory Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2008

Dr. Selig's presentation got me thinking about how the arts can be either reflective or affective...or both... of prevailing societal complexes. But, I asked myself, is simply being reflective even affective...and affective of what? We all know what happened to the reflection-loving Narcissus! I also asked myself, if the arts has a catalytic agency that is not tethered to any prevailing complexities, is this where the light of transcendence lies? If so, the term 'therapeutic' is inappropriate, limiting and pedestrian. I have previously written that I prefer the idea of  'catalytic agency' rather than 'role' because the latter alludes to preconceptions of all kinds and hierarchies, whereas 'catalytic agency' heralds the unknown, invites the unforeseen, bypasses restriction going forth with a compassionate impulse. 'Catalytic agency' stirs and ignites imagination, and I would argue, goes beyond the therapeutic where roles, agendas and hierarchies [eg: therapist/patient] are implied.

I write this thinking about current global economic turmoils and their ricocheting outcomes locally with the loss of jobs, political cynicism, consumer malaise, spiritual emptiness. It is also against a background of conflict in the Middle East and outsider interventions, judgements etc. It is against a background of media idolatry and the relinquishment of thinking to the panacea of technology. It is against a background of general fear...a fear of economic and financial loss, to technological  failure, to literal physical death.

With all this in mind I the fate of art that reflects simply pathological mimicry... constantly reminding us of humankind's weaknesses, ultimately stirring the pot of despondency and maintaining a status quo? Maybe? Or does it help us feel better by somehow soothing emotions, such as guilt, as we appropriate imagery that is essentially derived from suffering and fear...thus we 'suffer' too? Maybe? Do we feel better about our spiritual emptiness with a purchase of an artwork created by an Indigenous artist, because in the act of purchasing we feel [subconsciously] we've gained some spirit, that allusive 'sense' perceived to be the arena of the Indigene? Spirit as commodity surely aids and abets emptiness!

Is the suggestion that the arts are therapeutic a symptom of a societal complex rather than a promise?

I do believe that amongst the debris of disintegration we will find the light to guide us to the first possibility posed by Dr. Selig; that place of transcendence beyond the prevailing issue for both the leader and the society where the symphony of life can be heard clearly. The 'light' and the 'music' will need to be sought and uncovered. Reflection, for me, does no digging.

Compassion Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm 2011


Friday, November 09, 2012


 Beyond The Dark Night Of The Soul Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm 2009
I deliberately put the word beyond in the title of Beyond The Dark Night Of The Soul [above] to indicate that even though a journey into the 'dark night of the soul' is something most people will experience, at some stage in their lives, there is a place beyond the suffering. I am fully aware that for some people, as if tortured on a Catherine Wheel, the 'dark night' persists or returns consistently. This must be dreadful. However, I know that the vicious cycle can be broken and that a place beyond is possible to find. As I said in my previous post about this painting, The word 'beyond' in the title clearly gives the message that this painting is not just a warm and fuzzy, feel-good image, because 'the dark night of the soul' as something that has been experienced but overcome, thus exists in absentia.

So, to the title of this post Beyond The Dark Night. By suggesting a beyond, suffering has not been simply ignored or avoided, thus left nagging incessently in the background like a small child wanting attention or a Catherine Wheel audibly creeking. It has been experienced and acknowledged leaving a trace, a memory. However, I like to think that a word like beyond means that the tumultuous tenticles of suffering cannot reach into the psyche dragging dreams, hopes, esteem and more back into that dark, dark place. No, suffering has not been alleviated, but its strength to hold on tightly, is diminished.

I have uploaded some more paintings where the dark night and suffering spoke or whispered to me. But I like to think I went beyond the grip of wallowing, sympathy seeking and fear. I must add here, that the dark night and suffering were not the only 'voices' in conversation with me! Maybe a place of beyond enables one to reach back voluntarily, to harvest wisdom, re-affirm intuition. The place beyond  is where hope exists... and hope is galvanising and political. A place beyond, out of the darkness, means one have the potential to 'see' with eyeball and pupil, as well as the mind's eye, all close and far distances, horizons and perspectives. There is a pathos in this all-seeing ability, which keeps us human, not strangled.

Hope In The Distance Oil on linen 80 x 120 2010

 Halo Oil on linen 82 x 183 2009
I have included Halo because whilst it rejoices in the beauty of planet Earth and its atmospheric halo, the painting 'came' to me when I was thinking about my cousin Bill [aka: Fred] From who died whilst descending Mt Everest in a blizzard. This happened 9 October 1984. He turned 28 that month.What is interesting is that I was compelled to paint Halo in October 2009. I had not realised it was the 25th anniversary of Bill's death until I googled to see if there was much about the expedition, lead by Sir Edmund Hillary's son, Peter Hillary.
Bill had just completed his PhD in Ionospheric Physics and had won a scholarship to one of the Max Planck Institutes in Germany.
Blood Connection Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm 2010

Blood Connection ,using my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life symbol, is a painting reminding us that during war, blood literally seeps into the earth. It has done so for eons... unfortunately. Upon burial or casting ashes, the body-our bodies- return to the Earth connecting us forever, returning us to the stars.
Planet $ [below] is another 'map' like painting, similar to Blood Connection. I have, however, painted the planet with small $ signs. This painting, I believe, puts into perspective the quantification and commoditisation of resources, an incessently global activity. It also speaks of the suffering wrought by the Global Financial Crisis. This suffering is reaching out to us from 2007/8, keeping us tethered to fear. In my previous post for Planet $ I wrote, So, the painting of our planet, which I am calling '$', has a few underlying themes. The obvious one is the plundering of resources to feed our insatiable desire/need for energy, and all the paraphenalia that is manifested as a result. The other is more subtle. It is the restriction of imagination in ways which we do not notice, via the media, education and technology. The frightening thing is that all three are entwined.
Imagination can untether us from fear. We need to stir and utilise our imaginations, releasing the grip cast by media and its constant reminder of suffering, its pithiness and gossip seeking tendencies. It could be seen as a battle between imagination and the monsters created by those without. As I wrote in my previous post, I am reminded of JK Rowling's [author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series] excellent Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association, when she said, ' I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.'
I believe imagination provides the light to places beyond. Please see Becoming The Light, below Planet $
 Planet $ Oil on linen 30 x 30 cm 2011

 Becoming The Light Oil on linen 160 x 120 cm 2011

Thursday, November 01, 2012



Cosmic Ouroboros Oil on linen 120 x 150 cm
Regular readers will know that I have previously written about the age-old transcultural/religious symbol of the ouroboros when I wrote about my painting Ouroboros  [bottom]. The ouroboros symbol is a snake eating its own tail, representing the continuance of life. My new painting [above] Cosmic Ouroboros delves into similar interests, by again combining the ouroboros with the age-old transcultural/religious symbol, the tree-of-life. The tree forms the snake's body, which is the fertile ground for more trees...and life. As I have previously written, I 'see' the tree-of-life as a symbolic template for all of life's systems, pre-human and post-human, nano and vast.
I am particularly interested in the appropriation of the ouroboros by modern cosmologists as a visual descriptor of the relationship between the quantum and cosmic worlds. Its age-old symbolic meaning refers to the constant, but simultaneous, consumption and replenishment of life. The cosmic ouroboros extrapolates this to the relationship between the vast and intimate realms of the universe. Nobel Prize winner [1979] , physicist Sheldon Glashow was the first to suggest the ouroboros as a visual descriptor of the connection with, and unification of, the extremes of size and scale.
Below is an image from 'Just Six Numbers', by Lord Martin Reese, astrophysicist and Royal Astronomer. This is an image of the ouroboros with its cosmological descriptors and numbers. On the left the numbers and small diagrams represent the microworld, subatomic or quatum world. On the right they represent the various aspects of the Universe 'out there', from humanity to scales beyond the cosmic horizon.
In my new painting Cosmic Ouroboros I have included the numbers and small diagrams, with humanity situated at the bottom centre. The ouroboros seems to float in an indeterminable space/place. Is it outer space? Is it an intimate crease in time? Is it everything, anytime, anywhere?
Phycisist Prof. Joel Primack and his wifw, lawyer/philosophe Nancy Abrams, also use the ouroboros to visually describe quantum and cosmic realtionships. Primack and Abrams often work and publish together. A good start for you is to visit their site The New Universe And The Human Future: How A Shared Cosmology Could Transform The World
What I really like about the work of Primack and Abrams is their desire to help people understand humanity's place within the Universe, from its smallest to largest scales. They comment, quite rightly, that when asked about the Universe most people will think of it at its most enormous scale rather than envisioning it as something small, as well as large. Regular readers will know why I am fascinated by ties in with my belief that seeing multiple perspectives, even simultaneously, is important in a globalised world in which we live locally...and in a world where cosmological research reveals new horizons.
Why is this symbol useful? People asked to visualize "the universe" will far more often think of the largest thing they know of than the smallest. Few realize that the universe exists on all scales, everywhere, all the time. This is a truly extravagant thought. Largeness is by no means the most important characteristic of the universe. Focusing on it makes people feel small, not because they are, but because they are simply ignoring all scales smaller than themselves in thinking about the universe. On the Cosmic Uroboros, as I call it, if the mouth swallowing the tail is drawn at the top, humans (at one meter or so) fall more or less at the bottom -- i.e., at the center of all the size scales in the visible universe. Many students are so stunned by this apparently special place that they refuse to believe it and insist it must be a result of some tricky choice of units. I don't know if the center of the Cosmic Uroboros is in fact special, but finding themselves there certainly strikes a chord with most people. Perhaps it hearkens back to the soul-satisfying cosmology of the Middle Ages, where earth was truly the center of the universe. ...

Nancy Abrams is a great advocate for the arts [all of them], as a way of communicating how new cosmological horizons can be meaningfully understood and thus integrated into sustainable and enjoyable living. Symbolism is an integral part of arts catalytic agency and age-old symbols hold truths that can potentially speak to each millenia. By virtue of being age-old their potency burns, otherwise they'd be, what I call, transient symbols. We just have to search for contemporary relevance, meaning and resonnance. I believe the appropriation of the ouroboros by cosmologists is an excellent example of age-old potency being recognised and released. For me, the tree-of-life has the same potential.
Auroboros Oil on linen 122 x 153 cm

Saturday, October 20, 2012


 Histories Oil on linen 80 x 200 cm

I have previously written about my experiences exhibiting in the Middle East [Dubai and Abu Dhabi] and the conversations I shared with people from all over the region. I have also written about my experiences exhibiting in Australia and the conversations I have shared with people who have visited my exhibitions. My experiences in the Middle East, particularly in Abu Dhabi December 2005, where I sat with my exhibition each day for two weeks, made me realise that conversations stimulated by art have a capacity to reveal a shared humanity. How? The agenda-less quality of these conversations takes people into a shared space where differences become less different, and similarities are revealed. I describe these conversations as agenda-less, but certainly not direction-less.

This agenda-less, but not direction-less quality is the revelatory element with a capacity to bypass superficiality, chit chat and small talk. It has the capacity to build relationships, based on sharing deeper conversations where people talk about how they feel, recount personal stories, reveal fears, articulate desires and more. Ultimately these conversations are not about the art, but without the art there is no trigger. This was certainly my experience in Abu Dhabi, each day, with many people from all over the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe.

I have sat with my last three exhibitions in Brisbane. Again, conversations triggerd by my paintings are stimulating. However, Australians [Westerners] are a little more reserved about expressing how they feel. Yet, I have noticed, over time, that when people realise I am interested in what they see in my work, they open up in a way which if I met them at a party they possibly would not.

Gate Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm

I believe art has a catalytic role in developing meaningful relationship across the globe. Yes, it could be called 'soft diplomacy', but people [particularly Westerners and their Governments] must question and be careful of  'show and tell' attitudes...inherently agenda driven!

I like the concept of agenda-less conversation because directions are not prescribed, thus new perspectives are possible. Art [all Arts] is a catalyst for discovery...if we are brave enough.

I have previously written about the arts and diplomacy in a post titled DIPLOMACY

Oil on linen 80 x 200 cm
The painting at the top of the page was in my 2005 exhibition at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. It is now in the Foundation's Collection. It is one of the paintings that triggered many conversations with men, women and children who visited the exhibition. The tree-of-life symbol was immedaitely recognisable to people, thus conversations bypassed explanation, to discussions about meaning, puropse, peace and life. I have previously written about Histories

Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm
This painting was in my last exhibition Quiver in Brisbane [April 2012]  and it was one of the paintings that stimulated many conversations. I have previously written about Gate

I am having an exhibition in Melbourne in early 2013. It will be at Purgatory Artspace, the project space attached to Gallery Smith, in North Melbourne. I held my exhibition Paradise there in September last year. The dates are 29 January - 19 February. Opening night Friday 8 February. I am thinking of calling it Cosmology