Saturday, September 15, 2012


Tree-Of-Life Time Travelling, Oil on linen 90 x 150 cm
Nearly 21 years ago, I was a new Mother. My first born baby girl was, and still is, beautiful. However, as most new parents know, life with a newborn is exhausting. I remember lying on my lounge room couch, feeding my baby...and we both fell asleep. Mine was a heavy, exhausted, deep sleep where I plummeted into an almost alternative state. I dreamt...I was flying...and I awoke suddenly with my arm outstretched reaching for something. I knew I had touched Time.
How did I know this? Well, I just knew. I lay back down, settled my baby and tried to gain some composure. I felt a physical weight, as sense of having been absent and that I had returned with a thump. Nearly 21 years later, I can still recall these feelings, albeit only as a whisper.
So, did I touch Time? Or was this experience a sign of complete physical and mental exhaustion? Maybe the exhaustion relaxed the boundaries that keep us contained inside 'normalcy'? Maybe the exhaustion allowed for a portal to be opened? Who knows! But, it's fun to wonder...and that's what artists do!
So, this story brings me to my new painting Tree-Of-Life Time Travelling. Regular readers will [again] identify my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life. Two trees 'grow' from the bottom of the painting, indicating that their roots exist outside the painting...with/in Time. The trees are LIFE in all of its fulsome entirity ie: everything! They twist and turn, in a symphony of colour, across a rich crimson 'sky', which could be a sky or space or some other medium existing in the cosmic or quantum 'out there'.  The 'flow' of life is fluid in any, and possibly all directions, across and with time and space. The trees meet somewhere, creating a frisson, a place/space portal where the arrow of time illusion... melts.  
Even if we never actually time travel...thank goodness for wonder and imagination!
Maybe I watched too much Dr Who when I was a kid? Hey, I still watch it. I love Dr. Who, the Time Travelling Lord. The Tardis is Dr. Who's time travelling vehicle. Vehicle! That makes me think of time as a kind of 'road network' and we all know that even here on Earth roads can take us in a multiple of directions. We don't have to always go forward, never to return to places! Imagine how much more complex, exciting and sophisticated the 'roads' of time are. And, imagine travelling on them, especially in vehicles/dimensions that appear small on the outside, but are huge on the inside, like Dr. Who's marvellous Tardis.
I have uploaded the painting below because it is one of my 'road' paintings. I painted a few about ten years ago, just after my divorce.  Notice the multiple horizons and how the road snakes its way through them. The word 'distance' in the title does not have to mean a literal one point perspective distance. I know some may think it is a long bow, but I can see similarities between Tree-Of-Life Time Travelling painted in 2012 and Driving Into The Distance painted in 2002!
In my last post Untethering Landscape: Revolutionary? I write about untethering our ideas of landscape from Earth-bound perspectives...maybe if we do this we'll 'see' the 'roads' of time?

Driving Into The Distance Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2002


I attended a really stimulating lecture, at the University of Queesland Art Museum last Saturday. It was co-hosted with the UQ students' Society of Fine Arts [SOFA] The guest lecturer was Prof. Mark Ledbury from the University of Sydney, Department of Art History and Film Studies. He is also Director of the Power Institute 

The title of the lecture was  'Eccentric, Capricious, Bizarre... Thinking About History Painting'.  Prof. Ledbury's passionate and animated presentation of 18th century history painting propelled me back in time. Yes, I felt I was there! His description of artists' manoeuvres across a range of concerns, from choice of subject matter to composition, humanised them in a way which my previous academic experiences with 18th century history painting had never ever hinted at. He brought the era alive, in a way where, as an artist myself, I resonated with their struggles, gambles and games. Prof. Ledbury is currently writing a new book called An Eccentric History of History Painting. [You can see photos of the UQAM/SOFA event here ]

History, taught well, certainly can take a person back in time. I know it's not the same as a literal transportation of a physical body back or forth in time. However, until vehicles/dimensions are created/found for us to 'transport' ourselve through time, I am content with history....delivered in the way Prof. Ledbury 'performed' my 'vehicle'. Oh...and don't forget... imagination!

This takes me to the BIG HISTORY project founded by Bill Gates and Australian academic David Christian. Yes, BIG HISTORY is described as an 'Introduction to Everything'. Here's a quote from BIG HISTORY'S Home Page:

Big history takes a big perspective evolving study in independent disciplines to a holistic view of our inter-related universe. Before you know it, physics, chemistry, biology, ancient civilizations, and contemporary human history suddenly fit together.

I am pleased to say that there are a number of Australian schools who have successfully applied to be pilot schools for the BIG HISTORY project. A study of history...going back in time and learning... surely must help pave the roads of future time.

The Tattersall's Landscape Art Award is on public exhibition until Friday 21 September at Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle St, Brisbane. My painting is Cosmic Dust You can see all the paintings HERE



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