Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Towards The Past and Future Gouache on paper 21 x 29.7 cm 2013
I am re-reading a wonderful book I bought and read in the early 1990s. It is Joseph Campbell: The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. The book is a transcription of a series of conversations which took place between the two men in the years leading to Joseph Campbell's death in 1987. Joseph Campbell 'was the world's foremost authority on mythology', a scholar with deep insights into the interconnnections between mythologies and how they might 'speak' to contemporary society. For more information, please visit the Joseph Campbell Foundation website HERE 
Regular readers will know of my long and deep interest in perspective and the potential to develop skills in seeing multiple perspectives [even simultaneously]. Coupled with this is a keen interest in cosmology and the new insights, and perspectives, humanity gains from the unveiling of distances that seem to be getting both smaller and larger. By taking ourselves away from, and outside, Earth- bound perspectives we have an opportunity to 'see' ourselves and humanity in new ways. As I have written before, for me, the most significant realisation is that we all share the one home...planet Earth. In fact, for the time being, and probably into the unforeseeable future, Earth is our only home. There is nowhere else to go! For humanity to survive, and for Earth to provide a continuing and sustainable home, we all need to work to-gether. My recent short story Stirring The Star Dust is an allegorical story about this very issue.
So, back to Joseph Campbell. Apart from many many profound observations and insights, I was struck by an answer Campbell gave to a question asked by Moyers.  
MOYERS: What kind of new myth do we need?
CAMPBELL: We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.
Remember, this conversation ocurred in the mid to late 1980s. We now have people like Prof Joel Primack and his wife Nancy Ellen Abrams calling for the same thing, but from a perspective that is steeped in contemporary cosmological research, as well as an understanding of story, myth and the arts. I have previously referred to their recent book, which I have read, keep beside my bed and highly recommend, The New Universe and The Human Future: How a shared cosmology could transform the world. Currently environmental issues, already apparent in the 80s, are now manifesting in noticeable outcomes that threaten food production, climate, water quality and quantity and more. It seems to me that Campbell's call for myths that vision us as dwellers of Earth, and not just by nation, region, religion or race, is vital.
Seeking The Past and Future Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm 2013
The basic premises, or resonnances, of age-old symbols can be visually re-articulated to 'speak' to us today. As regular readers know, this is what I search to do in my paintings, particularly with my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life. More recently I have been stirred to paint the ouroboros, the age-old symbol of a snake eating its own tail. This symbol was used by the ancients to visually describe the Universe, as they understood and observed it. Today, modern cosmologists also use it to visually describe the Universe and the relationship between the quantum and cosmic worlds ie: as we understand and observe. For more on this aspect of the ourboros please check out my previous posts COSMIC ADDRESS and SNAKES EATING THEIR OWN TAILS 
Symbols can speak across time, history and space. It is up to us to listen, ask, seek and explore. Imagination is a key! Why? Because, imagination draws upon human race memory and sensation, not just individual impulses. Imagination can stir the past, present and future. It agitates and stimulates. It is a gift to humanity...a gift of the stars maybe? If you believe we are all, like everything else in the Universe, are made of star dust...remnants of the Big Bang...then imagination is definitely a key! 
You might be interested in a 2009 post I wrote called FAITH IN IMAGINATION
All Of Us Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm 2013
All of Us inspired me to paint Eternity's Breath
I've just reworked my COSMOLOGY GALLERY on my website. Please click HERE to see it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


This Is A Landscape Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2001
I was rummaging through my map drawers, where I keep my unframed works on paper, and found this painting [above] This Is A Landscape which I painted in 2001. When I painted it I remember my intention was to be more obvious than obvious, by writing 'This is a landscape' across the entire page. The words give form to the 'landscape' between the tree trunks.
Regular readers will know of my interest in untethering notions of landscape from Earth. In 2001 I had not really formulated my ideas, but I remember wanting to disrupt landscape. I wanted to question our complacency towards landscape painting, to unsettle the ubiquitous traditions of landscape, to postulate whether we humans find vulnerable sanctuary within landscape. 
When I lived out west, in Goondiwindi, there was an expectation that I'd paint landscapes. This expectation irritated me a bit, because city dwelling artists were not expected to paint cityscapes. Some did and others...most....did not. It seemed such a simplistic attitude. Yet, the 'regional artist' label hung heavy with expectation around my neck. I was angry with landscape!
I remember having an exhibition in Brisbane in 1995 or 1995...can't remember the exact date, but my second daughter was still a baby...where the paintings were my early tree-of-life works. Golden Lives [below] was in the exhibition. Back then for me, the tree-of-life was more of a familial tree, rather than the cosmic/universal one I dance with now! The tree, or my motivation to paint it, was about family and connection across generations. Regular readers will know that my ideas were vastly broadened when I exhibited in the Middle East in 2005.  
Golden Lives Mixed media on paper 1993
But back to 1994/5. At the opening of the exhibition a person from a Queensland government Arts organisation kept referring to the trees as gum trees! He was not the only one. I was more than a little irritated! My Goondiwindi address seemed to stick to me like mud!
When I moved to Brisbane in 2000 I found there was no expectation to paint landscapes. The irony is that, without the expectation, I began to feel much freer to paint landscapes ...or my versions of them!
And now, after years of being immersed in landscape, literally and artistically, I am suggesting we need to untether notions of landscape from being Earth bound, because whilst Earth maybe our home, the Universe is our environment. Looking beyond Earthly horizons provides new and different perspectives, which may reveal new pathways for the future, act as catalysts for co-operation, provide alternative insights...and more.  A cosmic context is really very exciting...new horizons, frontiers and places to explore, at closer and farther distances of space and time. Landscape is no longer 'safe' or expected! I think it is now expectant! And, that's an exciting challenge for us.
Galactic Horizons and Beyond oil on linen 85 x 150 cm 2012
Absolutely beautiful!!!!!!!
Solo Sunflower photo taken by Wilfred Brimblecombe

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

STIRRING THE STAR DUST: A short story about digging.

Welcoming The Folds Of Time Gouache on paper 21 x 29.7 cm 2013

Dear Readers,

I have written another story. This one is called 'Stirring the Star Dust: A story about digging'. I invite you to read and enjoy. Grab a cuppa and let the story dig its way into your imagination.

After reading this new story you might like to read another one I wrote recently...  A Not So Impossible Dream: A story about the Earth and the Universe


Stirring the Star Dust: A story about digging'by Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox

Some time ago seven people from around the Earth decided to dig tunnels. Jack, a clever young jackaroo, living on an Australian cattle station in far western Queensland started digging. He'd found a spot not far from the cattle yards away from the prying eyes of his boss. Sarah, a single thirty-something small animal vet, started digging in the back yard of her practice situated on the outskirts of  Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom. The old and unused garden shed provided perfect screening from inquisitive eyes. Jerome, a reasonably successful science fiction writer on a long term visit to his aging and ailing parents in Beaumes-de-Venise, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France, found a secluded spot near the river La Salette to dig his tunnel. Waled, a newly married Emirati architect drove his V8 landcruiser very fast to his childhood secret sanctuary outside of his hometown, Al Ain. His digging implements were hidden under a sand coloured tarpaulin, under the largest palm tree. Divorcee Bonnie, a fitness fanatic and mother of two teenage sons, who live with their Dad, started digging her tunnel amongst the gas wells in Dish, Texas, United States of America. She figured no-one would notice her activities. She was right. In the bustling market town of  Mto Wa Mbu near the Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania, mother of six Aza started to dig her tunnel in the small room behind her brightly coloured handicrafts stall. In downtown Beijing, China, under the guise of creating a contemporary artwork, buffed and fit Keung jackhammered a gallery's floor so he could start digging his tunnel. He knew that after the initial opening night flurry of great expectation, there would be no more visitors. Anyone looking through the window would think it was a construction site.

So, the seven people from around the world dug and dug and dug. Sometimes a couple, even a few of them, were digging at the same time.

In the cooling twilight Australian outback air Jack digs. He knows his boss and wife are inside the homestead having their dinner with a few beers and a tv show to follow. At the same time as Jack shovels soil and rock, Keung also digs. The windows of the gallery project space slowly collect dust obscuring the scene inside. As Jack and Keung toil so does Bonnie. Early in the morning she dons her protective gear and heads for the gas fields. She looks just like another shift worker making her way to dirty work. She digs and digs for hours before she tires, rests, and returns to her work. In Tanzania, Aza deals with market shoppers and tourists in between digging stints in her stall's back room. She knows her digging time is limited because her children will soon need her at home.  Waled is in his office readying himself for a drive to his sanctuary and a few hours digging, before heading home to have dinner with his bride. In the UK and France, Sarah and Jerome are asleep, although Sarah has only just gone to bed. She spends most evenings after dinner digging in the garden shed.  Jerome digs while his parents sleep. They sleep late into the morning and nap for hours in the afternoon. He knows when they wake up, when he's digging, because he has placed a monitor in the hallway outside their bedroom. He has the receiver strapped to his belt.

Each of the tunnel diggers set a pattern, and around the world this repetition creates a rhythm. They look forward to the hard work and the sense of achievement as their tunnels get longer and deeper. Each digger devises mechanisms to lower themselves into their tunnels and to raise themselves out of them. When they sleep the diggers dream of tunnels.

As time goes by the diggers each encounter challenges that cause delays and sometimes injuries. But, they persist. They are driven by an urge they don't quite understand. It is an urge forced by a shared sense of knowing, yet they do not know each other. Each of the diggers wants to understand the Universe, yet they are compelled to dig deeply into Earth's body.

 Remembering The Beginning Of Time Gouache on paper 21 x 29.7 cm 2013

A long time passes. Jack has become manager of the station because his boss has retired to the coast. Jack knows his dead parents would be proud. They had died in an accident when he was seventeen. His mum was from a mob up north and his dad had been a teacher. Jack writes about his tunnel in the journal he keeps locked in his desk.

Sarah has met a man, but she does not explain to him why she is unavailable after 8pm most nights of the week. Sarah writes letters, she never intends to send, explaining to her man the urge to dig. She feels less guilty.

Keung has taken to living inside the gallery project space. His mother delivers food to the door each day. She is worried, but her heart is comforted by the short cryptic poems Keung leaves pinned to the gallery door for her. The poems seem to be about a journey along a snaking tunnel.

Bonnie takes a short holiday to attend her eldest son's wedding in Miami. The ocean helps her feel a bit cleaner. Yet, she cannot wait to return to her tunnel. So, she writes about it on the hotel notepad. On her last day she takes the notepad into the sea, tearing each page off and casting them into the water.

Aza rejoices when her eldest daughter and son, twins, receive special scholarships to attend university in the big city. Now she only has four children living at home. Aza does not have time to write, so she sings songs she inexplicably hears inside her head. Every time she sings a gentle breeze rustles the leaves in the trees near her market stall. The lyrics allude to a journey along a snaking tunnel.

Jerome's father has died. It was a peaceful death. But, Jerome's mother has sunk into dementia. She does, however, seem to enjoy sitting in her wheel chair beside the river La Salette. Jerome knows she watches the leaves rustling in the wind and the small ripples upon the water. She is surprised and laughs every time his head appears out of the big hole in the ground. Jerome tells his mother what he is doing, but she soon forgets.

Waled and his wife welcome baby Hala, a beautiful dark eyed daughter. Waled now leaves work earlier to dig, so he can be home earlier to be with his family. He tells baby Hala stories about a long tunnel, snaking its way through the earth. Waled gazes into his daughter's eyes and knows she understands.

Cosmic Address Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm 2013

With each story, recount, poem, song and letter the diggers' tunnels become longer and deeper. The diggers are unsure, but they know something happens when they are not in their tunnels. They each decide other forces are afoot. They are grateful.

After more time the diggers are now very deep within the Earth. They can hear the heavy silence roaring. They wonder how much longer the compulsion to dig will last. One day each of the diggers happens to be digging at exactly the same time.

Wet weather allowed Jack some free time, so one Monday mid morning he returned to his tunnel and descended into its depths. For Bonnie it was early Sunday evening. She decided to take advantage of the clear night to return to her tunnel. In Guildford, Sarah had just finished a Sunday night movie date with her man. He'd left on the train to return to London to be ready for a meeting on Monday morning. She decided to dig until midnight or even later. Jerome's mother awoke at midnight. She was agitated. She woke Jerome and insisted on seeing the ripples upon the river La Salette. Jerome decided to dig under the cover of darkness. For both Waled and Aza, disturbed sleep had left them wide eyed at 3 o'clock on Monday morning. Waled got up and checked on Hala, who was also awake, but quiet. Her wide dark eyes gazed deeply into those of her father. She seemed to be imploring him to do something. Waled knew. He drove very fast to his sanctuary and descended into his dark tunnel. As she lay in bed, Aza felt a breeze brush across her face. She knew it was a song calling her to the tunnel. She left her sleeping children and walked the short distance to her stall. The breeze followed her into the small room where she descended into her tunnel.

An hour or so after the diggers had returned to their tunnels, they heard unexpected noises. Jack noticed it first. Every time he plunged his shovel into the dirt, the noise seemed to reverberate six times. The others soon noticed the same pattern. Aza became a little scared. To comfort herself she began to sing. The others heard her strong voice and momentarily stopped digging. In the quietness Aza's voice filled them with awe. They returned to their digging, knowing in their hearts that something momentous was about to happen.

Exactly ten minutes later each digger plunged their shovels into the dirt for the last time. As the rubble fell away a space large enough for a small meeting appeared. The diggers saw each other for the first time. Their eyes met and they knew why they were there. They had dug tunnels to the centre of the Earth, from different countries and continents. Yet, at the core of the Earth countries and continents were meaningless. Earth is one soil.

The small room filled with light. The diggers turned and looked outwards, through their tunnels, to the Universe beyond. From this point, at the centre of the Earth, the heavens opened to endless space and time. The diggers knew that the Universe was calling them, and humanity, to see beyond manmade boundaries, beyond Earthly horizons. Looking outwards from the core of the Earth the diggers could see multiple perspectives and possibilities. They could see the past and the future. Rather than being fearful of the immensity of space and the Universe, they felt comforted knowing, deep within their bodies and psyches, that humanity was part of Universal history. A human race memory of the beginning of time, of the star dust that formed everything, stirred within each of them.

 Seeing The Star Dust Gouache on paper 21 x 29.7 cm 2013

The core of the Earth was imploring them to look beyond to spatial and temporal distances, at the same time as pleading with humanity to look after Earth and each other. Earth was saying, I am your home, and the Universe is your environment.

They all realised that Aza's songs were the songs of the Universe. Aza remembered the breeze and silently thanked it for its messages. Keung realised his poems were Earth's whisperings. He was grateful that his mother had returned them the next day when she delivered his food. He'd buried the poems along the tunnel returning their rhythms to beat in time with Earth's pulse. Waled's eyes widened when he realised the stories he told Hala were drawn from within him by Earth and the Universe. Hala's dark eyes were reflections of Universal truth. Bonnie remembered the notes she made in Miami. She knew why she had felt compelled to return them to the Earth, via the sea. The water welcomed a return of subconscious knowing. Jack thought about his journal. He'd burnt it three days ago. At the time he did not understand why he felt compelled to do this, but he knew now. His journey, an eternal journey, was freed in the smoke that had risen towards the heavens and the ashes that had mixed with the soil. Sarah thought of her letters. Like Jack, she had felt a compulsion to destroy the letters. A few days ago she had euthanised a beautiful, old and gravely ill golden retriever. Her heart had sank, because although it was part of her job, she never liked putting an animal down. The distraught owners wanted the dog cremated. Without really thinking Sarah placed her letters with the beautiful dog. At the centre of the Earth, Sarah thought about her letters returning to Earth with an animal that had only ever given unconditional love and loyalty. She felt pleased and sensed her heart expanding. Lastly, Jerome silently thanked his Mother, for relinquishing his story from her memory and casting it onto the ripples of time.

 Songs Of The Universe Gouache on paper 21 x 29.7 cm 2013
The seven diggers were transported by the light, a Universal light. Their eyes were gently stroked and their hearts warmed. They saw the beginning of time and the Universe, slightly unsure whether it was this Universe or another. It did not seem to matter, because they recognised that the star dust which swirled and spiralled formed everything, always.

The diggers could not remember how they returned to the Earth's surface and their homes. It was pre-dawn for Jack. He stood beside the spot where his tunnel had been, but the hole was no longer there. Rather than looking down he looked up and stared at the Milky Way. The stars reflected in his eyes, sending their welcome and message to every cell in his body. His Aboriginal ancestors spoke through the stars, as did his Celtic and Anglo-Saxon ancestors. In unison they urged Jack to write, to publish and represent humanity. They seemed to fill his heart with a voice that the future was already listening to.  

Sarah, sat on the grass outside the garden shed. She'd been inside, but her tunnel was gone. In the early evening glow she read the letter her man had left for her. She realised he knew everything. A philosopher has that capacity. As she read she saw a vision of a life with this man, working with him and exploring the big questions faced by humanity. She understood now why he never questioned her self-imposed evening social curfew. He'd already seen the light.

Bonnie could not find the hole to her tunnel amongst the chaotic spider web of gas wells. This did not worry her. But, she felt the Earth's fury through her feet. She looked briefly at the sun. Its heat fired her will and stirred her inner core. She decided to return to university to complete her PhD in ionospheric physics. She now knew her path was that of an activist and a scientist.

Jerome returned to his Mother's home, but she was not there. He suddenly remembered she'd been with him when he went down the tunnel. He'd last seen her sitting quietly in her wheel chair smiling as the moonlight danced across the rippling La Salette. Jerome raced to his tunnel and his mother. The tunnel was no longer there, but his mother was. She beamed a wide smile when she saw him. He stood between her and the river. As he bent to give his mother a kiss, she saw light ripple over and through him, enveloping them both in time. Jerome, she knew, would write even more fantastic stories than previously, stories that just might help save the planet by inspiring people to look beyond.

Keung stood inside the gallery project space. In the dead of night he knew his art would no longer be about spectacle, but it certainly would be spectacular. He realised why he had been named Keung, the Chinese name for Universe. With new vision, gained by his experience digging to the centre of the Earth, Keung was aware that the expression of illumination went way beyond individual ego. He now understood more fully why his mother had returned his poems.

Aza stood inside her handicraft stall. The moon shone brightly. She could see into the small room behind the stall. The tunnel was no longer there. Through the open windows she felt a breeze gently brush her face and bare arms. She heard its song in the rustle of leaves in the trees outside. She started to write down lyrics. As the night deepened Aza wrote and wrote. All the lyrics she'd sung while digging streamed onto the pages. It was as if the essence of all perspective, the Universal urge, was writing for her. Aza wrote all night and into the following morning. She became aware of singing outside her stall. Her fellow villagers were singing the breeze's songs. By writing them down she'd given voice to the lyrical sensation. She knew the universal songs would seep into consciousness helping humanity understand. She could already hear the voices of tourists catching the lyrics and humming the tunes too.

Waled was standing beside the spot where his tunnel had been. There was no sign of it. In the evening light he realised that another vehicle was parked next to his landcruiser. He heard the faint sound of a child chuckling. It was Hala. His wife Asima had driven out to his sanctuary looking for him. He wondered how she'd found it. He walked to her car and tapped on the window. Asima was making faces at Hala who chuckled happily. Asima turned her head and when she saw her husband she smiled. She got out of the car, cradling her daughter in one arm and embraced Waled with the other. He wondered why she did not seem too worried. He gave her a questioning look. Asima explained that she had overheard Waled telling Hala his stories of the tunnel and the stories had entered her dreams. On the night he'd left she dreamt he reached the centre of the Earth. She dreamt he'd met six other diggers and that they represented humanity, without borders and boundaries. She dreamt that their hearts beat in unison, with a promise of a shared pulse over eternity. Waled looked into Asima's eyes and then into his daughter's. He knew that the future was bright, but he had work to do.

At seven points around the Earth, star dust swirled and spiralled softly settling into the folds of time before casting its promise across humanity in song, literature and art, in politics, philosophy and science.

Copyright Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox

 Cosmic Dust Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2010

Check out this aerial photograph of a gas field near Dish, Texas, USA...where Bonnie's tunnel was 'hidden'.
Another story:
If you enjoyed my new story about digging you will probably like an older post called 'Body As Site'

Sunday, March 03, 2013


Cosmic Address oil on linen 90 x 180 cm 2013

I love the idea of a cosmic address? Astrophysicist, Prof Joel Primack, and writer, Nancy Ellen Abrams, use this inspirational coupling of words in their book The New Universe and The Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World When I read those two words pictures sprang into my head and 'Cosmic Address' above is one of them.

The notion of a cosmic address propels you to perspectives way beyond your everyday street address, to horizons that make notation of one's country even seem myopic. If we all thought of ourselves as living at a cosmic address how would Earth and humanity be viewed? Just imagine taking yourself from inside your cells to the far reaches of outer space. Imagine viewing Earth from these intimate depths to the fulsome distances of space. These kinds of perspective are potentially full of knowledge, insight and awareness...if we're game to look up from our smartphones!

The video below is from Primack and Abram's website: It uses the age-old transcultural/religious symbol of the ouroboros [snake eating its own tail] as a guage/meter, while taking the viewer on a journey through cosmic scales. Regular readers will know of my interest in the ouroboros. Indeed, it appears in my painting 'Cosmic Address' above. My previous post provides more information on the significance of the ouroboros in my work and as a symbol representing the Universe.

Not only is a cosmic address about a place within the cosmos, but also a time within Universal history. Primack and Abrams make a very incisive argument that humanity is now placed at a pivotal time...a time midway through the life of our sun, the celestial powerhouse maintaining life on Earth. At some point in a few hundred million years the sun, as it builds to its cataclysmic demise, will radiate such heat that human life on Earth will be impossible. Humanity's future is probable extinction. But, the Universe will still continue, our Universal address will still exist albeit changed, but we may not/won't be home, literally or consciously. How can humanity A: ensure that the life of future generations is not made worse by actions and decisions taken now? B: come up with plans to possibly mitigate extinction? C: take advantage of any unexpected opportunities to enhance and/or save life? D: identify risk, even a small one, to Earth and humanity, from afar or from within?

COSMIC ADDRESS Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm
I wanted to create an image that appeared to be both intimate and vast, visceral and cosmic. The ouroboros, its body painted with another age-old transcultursl/religious symbol of the tree-of-life, represents time and scale, yet its circular shape is like a portal, a womb, an eye... The ouroboros seemingly floats in an energised space, that could be outer space or the interior of life's womb. Another tree-of-life grows from an 'horizon', pulsing with life and energy, like blood or those dark forces propelling universal space. The lightning at bottom left is a conduit heralding a new landscape, one untethered from Earth, but one that looks back at the same time as observing all perspective, temporal and spatial.

In order to help us vision our cosmic address I suggest notions of landscape need to be untethered from being Earth-bound. We seem to cling to concepts of Earth-bound landscape that, in terms of geographic locale, somehow identifies who we are and where we come from...even a sense of ownership. Yet, the future is calling us to consider our 'home' and identity, to not only be derived from locales such as regions, countries, nations or continents, but also as citizens of the Universe. This kind of expanded address-vision surely must help unite humanity to work together to sustain life and the planet for near and far future generations?

Please also read more about my ouroboros painting at Snakes Eating Their Own Tails

For more on untethering landscape check out my post Untethering Landscape