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


Thursday, October 11, 2012


Returning Oil on linen 50 x 92 cm
Returning? Returning from where, from whom?
I often think about the presence of the future in the past. Sounds non-sensical in some ways! But, I've had experiences which, with hindsight, have heralded the future. However, it has only been with hindsight that I have the Ah Ha moment of realisation. In a sense, hindsight is a return to a moment in the past...realising that the past can 'return' to the future.
The concept of return or returning, is probably more apparent in the saying history repeats itself. Now this can be not so bad or it can be dreadful, particularly in the case of war. Whilst the weapons and tactics of war might have changed, the underlying human instigations perhaps have not? Why do we resort to war and conflict over and over again?
When we gaze out into Space we are seeing light, emitted from stars, that has travelled billions of year to get to us. This light is the past being witnessed in its future. In my mind we 'return' to the past, to those moments just after the Big Bang, when we see the stars. It makes me tingle with awe.
There is also the story of Adam and Eve, who upon expulsion from the Garden of Eden, are aware that a return to Eden is possible and something to strive for. Adam and Eve, representing humanity, are sent forth to experience the space between antimonies, that space created with the injection of 'evil' into the equation. 'Good' now had a companion, albeit a recalcitrant one. With humanity experiencing life, in this space between antimonies, it was given an opportunity to understand who it is not, thus making it possible to discover who it actually is. The repetition of war and conflict suggests we have a few more lessons to learn!
Now to my new painting above called Returning. The cascade of arced trees rustles with light, reflecting that emitted by the blood red moons. Interpsersed amongst the colourful branches of the trees are various dots, including red ones. These seem to whisper to the moons, echoing time seemingly passed and time heralded from the future. Yes, regular readers will identify the trees as my much loved age-old trancsultural/religious trees of life. This symbolic reference to life embraces its entirety, from pre-human [even pre-Earth] to that which exists in a post-human future, that may witness through implosion [or other forces] both a death and rebirth of the Universe. In a sense...the ultimate RETURNING.
I have used the word returning as the title rather than something like The Return, because the latter is finite, a once off, whereas returning suggests a constancy and an eternity.
Here are some links to other posts where I discuss concepts of returning:
I have some copies of my book For Everyone and it would be a fantastic Christmas present! So if you want one or even more let me know, via comment [which I won't publish] and I will get back to you. Or you can contact me HERE
I have made two new 'galleries' on my website, in preparation for Christmas. If you are after present ideas, for Christmas, or any other celebration, please check out:

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.