Wednesday, October 03, 2012


More Mountains Oil on linen 55 x 80 cm 2002

I am suffering from an impasse. I have three canvases prepared for me to paint, but the flow is just not happening at the moment. Time to pause and reflect. It is all part of the process, the creative process. I have learnt to to step away, literally and emotionally, from my work when this happens, to make room for ideas to flow, and gel into inspiration.

The impasse has possibly happened because I was co-host to a big milestone party for one of my children. Yep...lot's of energy put into, what turned out to be, one of the best parties I have ever been to. I danced till 2.30am!

So, I decided to write this BLOG post featuring paintings where I have portrayed mountains. In my last post FAITH I wrote about mountains being a metaphor for overcoming adversity. The mountain is a metaphor for adversity, which upon ascent reveals new horizons and perspectives, giving fuel for optimism and hope.

Regular readers will know that I use landscape elements as visual metaphors for many things eg: horizons, mirages, trees, skies and so on. By using landscape elements, to reach out and touch hearts and minds, I hope that a connection between us and Earth, plus our universal environment, is deepened. Ascribing emotional elements to landscape may possibly make us think twice about how we sustain ourselves and the planet.

More Mountains and Metaphor are two paintings from ten years ago, just after I left the country to move to Brisbane. Yes, there is a personal element...a story of a journey...a massive change and overcoming fear and adversity. I literally left the interior, crossed the great Dividing Range and settled near the coast.

These two paintings were inspired by the many trips I used to make to and from Brisbane to Goondiwindi. This 4-5 hour drive took me, and my family, across the Great Dividing Range either at Cunningham's Gap or Toowoomba. Please check out this MAP where you can see the terrain. The driving directions given on the map are directing through Toowoomba, but you can also go through Warwick.

The mountains at Cunningham's Gap are amazing. Their light and shade, deep rich colour and their amazing silhouettes are astounding. Each time I see them I slow down, just to 'drink' in with my eyes, their beauty and majesty. More Mountains and Metaphor are both directly inspired by the mountains at Cunningham's Gap.

Metaphor Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2002
The painting below is called Life and as you can see, it tells the story of a woman's journey from birht to death. It is somewhat black in its demeanour. But, notice the mountains in the distance. They can be read many a block, a cause of shadow and darkness, an opportunity, new horizons, strength, potential. The road, as indicated by the marked lines does not end. It continues out of the paintings, maybe traversing the mountians and reaching the other side. As each generation is born new opportunities and different expectations forge a diversity of roads.
Life Oil on linen 80 x 200 cm 2005

Secrets Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2005
In Secrets the mountains are half hidden, by what seems to be a mirage-like aura. They shimmer in the distance, enticing with their glimpsed majesty. What secrets do they hold? What is over the other side, literally and metaphorically?

 Mountains Dancing Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2005
Mountains Dancing was recently shortlisted for an art award with a theme focused on the benefits of rain. Here is the Artist's Statement I wrote for my entry:

I grew up on the Darling Downs, on the flat treeless Pirrinuan Plain between Dalby and Jimbour. Looking west the flat horizon melted into shimmering mirages in Summer, and in Winter its flatness drew a sharp line between land and sky. Looking east the majestic Bunya Mountains cut a silhouette against often relentless blue skies. These same skies, when darkened with rain and storm clouds, seemed to embrace the mountains, bringing them closer.
The flat western horizon would often tantalise my parents with strips of rain falling on distant paddocks. We’d pray for the rain to come to us. One hot day, my two younger brothers and I decided to help by dancing a wild rain dance! It actually rained a few drops!
I also remember my father’s delight when gentle soaking rain arrived, swelling the rich black soil and easing his anxiety.
In Mountains Dancing I have incorporated memories of my childhood, plus those of living for eighteen years further west in Goondiwindi. Strips of rain, on distant horizons, always met with emotional responses, particularly during drought. In this painting, strips of rain fall from clouds which seem to dance across a fertile red sky. Water penetrates the land, forming and replenishing what could be rivers, puddles, underground aquifers.
The whole landscape dances with joy and fertility. The latter symbolised by the colour red. A dancing rhythm of movement suggests a natural flow of water on and in the landscape, bringing it to life, sustaining crops, livestock, flora and fauna…and livelihoods.
Living With Distance oil on linen 120 x 160 [Diptych] 2002

Living With Distance is another painting from ten years ago. Notice the mountains edging the curvature of the Earth. A bride floats above the landscape, her veil forming cloud-like illusions across a vast sky. As a young bride, like many who marry and live in the country, I literally lived with distance. Yet, distance is not only about the literal space between things. It can also be about emotional distance and spiritual separation from people and the planet. However, the bride in  Living With Distance seems to embrace the planet in a white light, a light of protection, as her dress and body mirror land formations and contours. The white lines marking the Earth, seem to call out to the bride. They are the spiritual remnants of pioneering women of the past, ancestors who forged the fabric of community.

 In Unison Oil on linen 92 x 207cm  2006 SOLD
In Unison is in a collection in Sth Korea. This is something I wrote previously:
'In Unison' speaks about the universal heartbeat of time and history. At a truly fundamental level we are reminded of life by the beating of our hearts and the rhythmic pace of our breath. No matter where we come from, what religion we have faith in, what type of political structure we espouse at a fundamental level we all share the same reminders of life. ..those elements of life that have a pattern and rhythm.
Elemental Oil on linen 52 x 90 cm 2009

Elemental  is an ambiguous landscape. The tree-of-life creates a formation mirroring a few landscape elements including a mountain. Red 'clouds' rain down onto the tree-of-life mountain.

Into the Symphony Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2008
I have written about Into The Symphony twice before. Please check HERE and HERE

Viscera Oil on linen 90 x 200 cm 2008 SOLD
From a previous Artist's Statement
This painting is about ‘seeing’ the interiority of vastness at the same time as witnessing the vastness enmass.  The macro and micro can be  experienced simultaneously, possibly giving clues to negotiating an increasingly globalised world lived locally. This painting also plays with perspective and distance.
I have called this painting ‘Viscera’ meaning that the internal life forces of the earth are revealed. Yet, ignoring the detail, the sum total is a large landscape. But, is the viewer sure of where they stand in view of this vast landscape? Is the viewer in front of a land and sky scene, or above a landscape of land and water, or inside the internal workings? The landscape seems to be born from a tree…the tree-of-life with its branches becoming visceral and vascular reminding us that our bodies hold these same truths and energies. This is where the image can devolve into something more universal than a particular landscape. I like the fact that a viewer standing at a distance will ‘see’ one  ‘landscape’ and then up close there is another landscape, yet it is the same landscapea living one. Enticing the viewer to move back and forth from the painting replicates the moves I made when creating it. This dance with distance is an important component of my work.

Frisson with Distance Oil on linen 85 x 147cm 2009 SOLD
Frisson Oil on linen 84 x 147 cm 2010 SOLD
Hope In The Distance Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2010 SOLD

The three paintings above Frisson, Frisson With Distance and Hope In The Distance are all ambiguous landscapes featuring a mountain-like form, created with my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life symbol. They are also similar to Into The Symphony and Viscera.

In Frisson and Frisson With Distance the charged moment where horizons meet is the frisson of life, possibility and hope. The tingle, like the moment before a kiss, is inherent. The mountain meets the sky, connecting everything, fueling energy and suggesting potential.

Knowing Stillness Oil on linen 85 x 150 cm 2011 SOLD

 Galactic Horizons and Beyond Oil on linen 90 x 150 cm 2012

Knowing Stillness and Galactic Horizons and Beyond are very recent paintings, where the mountain has been untethered from more formal and traditional interpretations. The metaphoric quality pervades and the images take on multiple possibilities beyond Earth-bound perspectives.

The Mountain offers a view of where we have been and where we might go. It also clearly affords us the knowledge that there is more beyond sight, beyond the distances already travelled and those yet to be traversed. Having been in the valleys, where sight is impeded, the notion of close and far distances helps us negotiate perils, sanctuaries, unkonwns and hope.


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