Sunday, January 05, 2014


Falling Out Into It Oil on linen 70 x 120 cm 2014
[Inspired By Time Winton]

At night in the desert the sky sucks at you, star-by-star, galaxy-by-galaxy. You feel as if you could fall out into it at any moment. It's terrifyingly vertiginous.
[Quote: 'Wild Brown Land' an edited transcript in 'The Australian' December 14, 2013 of The Island Seen and Felt: Some Thoughts About Landscapes by well known Australian author Tim Winton, presented to the Royal Academy, London, November 14, 2013.] You can listen to the speech HERE

Tim Winton's words are amazing. When I read them, and others, images popped into my head and resonances were deeply felt. In a recent post  ENCOUNTERING LANDSCAPE I write more generally about the speech and my reaction to it. However, there are some phrases that have stayed with me, their words mulled over, eliciting the kind images in my mind that asked to be painted.

I grew up on a grain farm on the flat treeless Pirrinuan Plain, outside Dalby on the Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia. I remember vertiginous feelings when, as a child, I'd lie on soft clover staring at the sky. I remember my Dad had a marvellous vegetable garden that also grew the lushest clover. I'd lay down on it and immediately feel like I was flying and sinking at the same time...that is until the day I noticed the prickles had started to form!

The vast sky of my childhood, uninterrupted by mountains or trees, has stayed with me. During the day it was mostly a relentless blue. But, now and then storm clouds would roll majestically across the plain. These clouds, nuanced with colours of grey, black and indigo blue were sometimes tinged with a green hue, a sign of hail. At night the sky, if uncluttered by clouds, glittered with the Milky Way, a swathe of jewel-like lights. My grandmother, a keen star gazer, often took my brothers and me out into the night to see various constellations, our necks bent back so we could take it all in. However, a stormy night sky was another experience. Lightning giving momentary spotlight to features we knew well, as if demanding us to take notice.

So, the quote from Tim Winton's speech grabbed my attention! The significant bit is fall out into it. Not fall out from it, but fall out into it, as if gravity might release its grip on us. These beautifully simple few words capture so much of my thoughts about perspective, distance...and the possibilities that new ways of seeing, new perspectives, can reveal different questions and answers to the issues that plague humanity.

We possibly need to feel a sense of terrifying vertigo in order to disrupt the norm, to recalibrate senses, to disturb the status quo, to re-ignite awe and wonder...and more. To deliberately welcome this kind of disruption, and even agitate for it, is quite subversive, don't you think? Agitation does not have to be outrageous, aggressive or in-your-face. Indeed, maybe a deliberately
contemplative state leading to a kind of dizziness that helps to ultimately shift perspective is more revolutionary than trying really hard to make a point via didactic means, aggressive and not? Maybe, lying down on the grass to stare at the sky, welcoming that sense of falling into it, is all we need to do, both literally and metaphorically. Yes, let's look up from our smart phones and computers!

I love the idea of 'falling out into it' for another, but related reason. Regular readers will know of my interest in untethering notions of 'landscape' from Earth-bound horizons. The idea of 'falling out into it'...into the a way to assist imagination to grasp the concept! The cosmos is calling, imploring...

Falling Out Into It Oil on linen 70 x 120 cm 2014
So, to my new painting. With Falling Out Into It I wanted to create a 'landscape' that was ambiguous in orientation and locale. I wanted a sense of transparency where parts of the landscape revealed the cosmos through itself, as if the viewer could move into and beyond the 'landscape', like a traveller through time and matter, ultimately becoming time and matter... or maybe remembering them? I wanted to create a sense that the viewer was literally falling out into the night sky, the Universe. Yet, there's a possibility of grabbing onto the 'landscape' of mountains too, before letting go and travelling further...! Metaphorically speaking...think of the possibilities for psyche.

Falling Out Into It is similar to another painting I did last year. Multiple Landscapes [below] also has a sense of disorientation. It's a painting that explores the possibility of seeing multiple perspectives, even simultaneously. And, I'd suggest that in a vertiginous state one would see multiple landscapes especially if you kept your eyes open! Now there's a clue....
Multiple Landscapes Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm 2013

Happy New Year to you all!

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