Saturday, July 26, 2014


Point Of View Oil on linen 90 x 100cm 2014
I read an article about a near miss.
A potentially Earth/humanity shattering event in 2012 that was fortunately...a near miss.
But, this event could happen again...and be a close more destructive encounter.
The article Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012 is from NASA'S Science News. It recounts that in 2012 there was a solar storm, a rather large one. The biggest for 150 years. The previous one was in 1859. Here's what the author of the article, Dr. Tony Phillips says about the 1859 event, Before July 2012, when researchers talked about extreme solar storms their touchstone was the iconic Carrington Event of Sept. 1859, named after English astronomer Richard Carrington who actually saw the instigating flare with his own eyes.  In the days that followed his observation, a series of powerful CMEs hit Earth head-on with a potency not felt before or since.  Intense geomagnetic storms ignited Northern Lights as far south as Cuba and caused global telegraph lines to spark, setting fire to some telegraph offices and thus disabling the 'Victorian Internet." 
Note: A CME is a coronal mass ejection - huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours. 2012 the storm tore through our orbit and luckily we missed being hit... by one week.
But, scientists have garnered a massive amount of knowledge because the storm hit one of our spacecraft, a solar observatory called STEREO-A. This observatory survived the storm because it's equipped to survive such things. Plus, in open space the ambient magnetic field is weaker than the field within Earth's magnetosphere [the region surrounding a planet where the planet's magnetic field dominates]. This means that electric currents are not as strongly generated/ignited in outer space as they can be within Earth's more dense sphere.
So...what's the likelihood of Earth being hit by a solar storm-within the next 10 years? Well, scientists have worked out that it's up to 12% chance. Now, that's quite high, particularly because the devastation would be so widespread and catastrophic.
So, what would happen if we got hit?
Unlike the mid nineteenth, we 21st century sophisticated types, are totally reliant on technology, electricity et widespread fire and brimstone it would be. And, what kind of warning would we have that a massive bubble of gas threaded with magnetic field lines was heading our way? Not much! Maybe hours. The trick is to unplug your devices in time! Yes, well...probably not as simple as that! Think of what would happen to GPS systems controlling planes and ships; hospitals, internet, banking, the lacework of electronic connections across the globe...and into space...and more.
Dr. Daniel Baker, from the University of Colorado's Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics, is quoted at the end of the NASA article:
"we need to be prepared."
It got me thinking about perspective. Regular readers will know this is a favourite topic of mine.
Here we have an instance of scientific research providing us with information that is truly cosmic in perspective. The whole Earth will be affected by a solar storm, if it hits us. We are more vulnerable than our nineteenth century ancestors, because of our reliance on technology and the ubiquity of it. 

Today, war and conflict rage in various parts of the world. We fight each other, rather than working together!
If we take a cosmic perspective, war and conflict seem even more gut wrenchingly needless. After all, we could ALL be wiped out by the effects of massive rolling bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines. But, rather than working together to ensure science can protect us, we fight, threaten, abuse, destroy. We fight over land, territory. We fight in the name of religion. We terrorise, disrupt, withhold and destroy. Points of view become entrenched and intractable.
Yet, we ALL share the planet! Earth is OUR home. So, rather than fight over bits of it, let's work together for all of it, whether we actually get hit by a solar storm or not!
So, to my painting Point Of View. It's cosmic for sure! But, is the black circle sinister or not? Depends on points of view! For me, the black circle could be many things:
  • Symbolic of what we don't yet know. How exciting.
  • An entrance to another world, maybe another Universe in the Multiverse.
  • Indicative of having been somewhere else. Possibly a transformative passage?
  • Maybe representative of Earth, no longer in existence-a reminder.
  • A shadow, eclipse.
  • A promise
  • A black hole

or simply
  • A pinhole in a piece of coloured paper!
It does not really matter what the black circle is. But, if it gets you thinking about perspective, then I'm happy.

Reading the NASA article about solar storms and the University of Colorado's Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics reminded me of my cousin Dr. Bill [aka Fred] From. He died in 1983 aged 27 on Mt Everest. He had just completed his PhD in Physics at the University of Queensland and had won a scholarship to study at one of the Max Planck Institutes in Germany. His research centered on studying the ionosphere which is one of the layers of Earth's upper atmosphere...along with the magnetosphere. Here's a link from MIT to a short description of the interactions between the ionosphere and the magnetosphere.

In 2009 I painted Halo. I was thinking about the atmosphere as being like a halo around the Earth. This halo protects us and enables the conditions for life. Click HERE to read my post Halo, where I also mention my cousin Bill.

Halo oil on linen 80 x 180 cm 2009



Monday, July 21, 2014

Hope Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm 2013

Recent dreadful events around the world leave us feeling bewildered and frightened. For those directly affected it's far far worse.

War and conflict rage in various locations around the globe, causing death, mayhem, social destruction and more. Innocent victims are caught up in the horror, loosing life and limb, fleeing homes and seeking refuge in other places. Long term effects are equally as deplorable and damaging.

What can we do?

It seems blame, reprisals, sanctions, increased surveillance and threats are what 'we' do. It seems that escalation is the currency of the moment. A pervasive fear exists. Politics fails to offer hope.

There's a loss of faith in the human race...surely humanity can do better than this?

But, what can I do?

And now, my thoughts turn to how the arts could be an agent of change, an agent revealing new perspectives through which life can be viewed, revealing alternative pathways to seek solutions for all sorts of problems and issues. An agent that helps us re-discover our humanity...our 'team' which works and plays together on our shared planet.
Pale Blue Dot Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2014

Am I being naively optimistic, illogical? Maybe? But, where there's hope.....

I've previously written that I do not see the arts has having a role, but rather a catalytic agency. The word 'role' insinuates prescription, not only in method but also in outcomes, thus for me it is too reductive, and vulnerable to manipulation through agenda. Whereas, 'catalytic agency' denotes a freer more wide ranging agenda-less, but not directionless, capacity. Who knows what new and surprising perspectives could be stirred and revealed? The arts per se are not the solution, but their catalytic agency can be a potent ingredient helping to stir humanity's imagination, generating creative and new questions... and answers. It's more hopeful!

But, what are art's barriers?

These barriers scream for attention, truly narcissistic in intent, myopic in vision, sensationalist but not sensational...secretly holding hands with apathy. Here's some examples:
  • The ubiquity of fashion and style,
  • money commandeering as value,
  • the cult of celebrity,
  • labels misidentified as meaningful symbols,
  • sentimentality mistaken for beauty,
  • simple copying misunderstood as piercing appropriation,
  • super/hyper-reality quelling nuance,
  • technical virtuosity mistaken for creativity, 
  • didacticism masquerading as wisdom,
  • virtual reality insidiously eroding the psyche.
Planet $ Oil on linen 30 x 30 cm

With mass media and its incessant reminder of disaster and mayhem in pictures, videos and words, the arts must somehow differentiate to be distinguishable in the maelstrom. And, to be distinguishable and affective [ie: transformative] the arts cannot simply or only reflect back. Indeed, this kind of reflectivity is ably and grotesquely the domain of 21st century mass media. It cannibalises disaster swooping for graphic images. Why would art want to compete? Mass media persistently reminds us of the blood, gore and human suffering, which I suggest, desensitises and neuters us to the point where hope fades, fear cascades, contempt for humanity escalates. Better to bury your head in the sand or in fashion or other 'entertaining' diversions?

So, what about the arts and hope...and team humanity?

And, how do I engage with current events in a way that does not neuter me?
All Of Us Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm

I think generating, or trying to generate, hope is astutely political. So, that's what I try to do in my paintings. I find inspiration in cosmology, the scientific study of the universe, if not the Multiverse. The ever increasing perspectives it reveals, across the close and far distances of the Universe, demand our attention! And, why should we indeed pay attention? These perspectives offer us new ways of viewing ourselves and our planet. For instance, they make it both painfully and beautifully obvious that 'Team Humanity' has only one shared home! Shouldn't we work together to look after ourselves and Earth, not only for the now but also the future?  Cosmic perspectives reveal new questions and demand rethinking about land 'ownership', borders and boundaries. They also re-contextualise human history against Uni/Multiversal history, begging reappraisals of relationships, from the individual to the international. All of this does not mean no robust debate, but it might mean de-escalation of war and conflict, horror and destruction?
Meeting Place Of The Mind Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm

So, in my paintings I try to visually interpret cosmic perspectives in a way which is hopeful, but also questioning eg: Planet $ above. I use age-old transcultural/religious symbols, mainly the tree-of-life plus landscape. With both, I attempt to untether them from traditional visual interpretations by catapulting them into Space and beyond.

My intentionally ambiguous 'scapes' disallow didacticism, thus leaving it up to the viewer to explore and interpret, even if they are initially disorientated.

The dark side, however, does still exist in absentia. It is not ignored, but acknowledged and then deliberately set aside. To not acknowledge would be naïve. The active choice to set aside means hope reigns.
Blood Connection Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm

Of Previous Posts Linked To This One-In Some Way Or Another!

STIRRING THE STAR DUST: A Short Story About Digging
Life Takes A Cosmic Perspective Oil on linen 91 x 137 cm 2014

 my next solo exhibition
2 - 14 September 2014
Graydon Gallery
29 Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Earth, The UNIVERSE
Please visit Untethering Landscape's Webpage HERE

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Studio with work-in-progress, on left Pale Blue Dot and on the right a fresh stretched linen 'canvas'...and then general studio clutter.
So here's an insight into an artist's way of working. I've been inspired by so many things that my new paintings, over the last year, have to greater or lesser degrees, flowed from me. I say to greater or lesser degrees, because each painting poses different issues, questions, possibilities, delights and problems.
But, at the moment the painting-in-progress, on the easel in the photo above, has got me stumped. I love its red richness, but what to do next?
There are a few problems with this painting and the main one is that I've got too much in my brain at the moment, some of it inspiring and some not. So many ideas, but no clear picture in my mind's eye. This happens periodically. In the past, years ago, I would have become frustrated and completely destroyed the image, if not ripped off the canvas. But, I've learnt to sit with the frustration especially if I am happy with work-in-progress. So, I am sitting.
But, even writing this post is sort of cathartic!
I can feel some clearer thoughts percolating.
Time will tell........
You can see a section of my last painting Pale Blue Dot on the left. Now, this painting flowed, at times easily and at other times not so easily. This painting is essentially about perspective. You can read more by clicking HERE
Here's a painting from 2004 called
Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm
Previous post can be read HERE

My next solo show is soon!
From Earth-Bound Horizons
2-14 September
Open daily 10 am - 6 pm or by appointment
Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Queensland, Australia
Exhibition website is HERE
I have been invited again to participate in the

The prize is announced on Wednesday 3 September

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Pale Blue Dot [Inspired by Carl Sagan] Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2014
On the 14th February 1990, at Carl Sagan's suggestion, a photograph was taken by Voyager 1 as it left our solar system.
Here's a quote from The Planetary Society website:
As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.
To see the photograph please Google images.
The video above has Carl Sagan speaking about the impact of the photograph. Sagan's words are poetic, marvellous and inspiring. They challenge us to take a perspective of ourselves and Earth that I suspect many still find difficult. Sagan published a book in 1994 called Pale Blue Dot: A Vision Of The Human Future In Space
Many astronauts speak and write about seeing the Earth from afar, in space. The experience shifts their perspective of life. I encourage you to research, but to start with I suggest a visit to the Overview Institute . If you are particularly interested in reading some astronauts quotes please click HERE
Regular readers will know of my interest in perspective! They will also know that I suggest we need to develop skills in seeing multiple perspectives, literal and metaphoric...even simultaneously. Cosmology, the scientific study of the Universe, demands that we look up from our computers and phones, to take in and appreciate, the vast perspectives offered by the close and far distances of the Universe...if not the Multiverse. Our survival, Earth's sustainability...depends on it.
PALE BLUE DOT Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm
So, to my painting Pale Blue Dot. Is this simply my imagined view of Earth in space, from space? Is it some kind of good-bye to Earth, a last wave? Or maybe it is a wishful painting...a view of an imagined new home, another habitable Earth-like planet? Maybe if we could take a photograph of our Universe, it too would look like a dot...this assumes that our Universe is part of a Multiverse? Talk about possible literal perspectives!
But, what do these perspectives shift within us? Like astronauts returning to Earth from space, can we, even if we don't literally fly, develop new appreciations of life by actively and imaginatively engaging with Universal/Multiversal perspectives? As Edgar Mitchell, sixth man on the Moon said, There was a startling recognition that the nature of the universe was not as I had been taught… I not only saw the connectedness, I felt it...
And. as Carl Sagan wrote in his book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision Of The Human Future In Space, It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known. To think that this quote was written twenty years ago, and many of us [individuals and nations] in the name of religion, sense of ownership, economic imperatives etc are still in states of conflict, war...and more! And, as for succeeding in cherishing the planet...well!
And to my current quest, to untether ideas of landscape from Earth-bound horizons. Pale Blue Dot does just that! Like an image of a mountain against a sky, we have an image of Earth [maybe?] against a backdrop of the Universe...or it could be a 'landscape' of the entire Universe against a backdrop of whatever it might be that hosts/sustains multiple Universes. Or it could be something vastly smaller...a drop of water, a piece of dust, an atom...even a thought?
Landscape and perspective are indelibly entwined...both can be taken literally and metaphorically. It's a powerful combination with lessons for us to learn...if we look up and pay attention.
Birth of Landscape oil on linen  138 x 168 cm 2014
solo exhibition
2 - 14 September 2014
To see the exhibition webpage please click HERE
Copyright: Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox

Thursday, July 03, 2014


Beacon Oil on linen 91 x 102 cm 2014
As regular readers know I love the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life symbol. Regular readers will also know that I do not visually interpret the tree-of-life in traditional forms. Rather I cascade it across canvases creating vast, complex and intricate scapes. Or, I use it as a beacon, on cosmic inspires scapes, heralding and rejoicing the persistence of life, hope and energy.
I aim to untether the tree-of-life from traditional visual portrayals as a way to explore its symbolic potency in the 21st century. The tree-of-life and the tree-of-knowledge have long held meaning across eons, cultures and religions. The persistence of the tree's capacity to hold and give meaning tells me that it still has something to give us, yet we must untether it from past visual interpretations to explore, and find, what this might be.
As I have previously written the tree's branching appearance mirrors all kinds of systems, from natural to human-made ones. Think of vascular systems, cross sections of internal organs, river systems, mountain ranges...and for human-made systems, think of aerial views of road networks, flight paths, technology's unseen energy waves and more. All systems propel life in some form or another. .
So it is to LIFE that I now turn to...the tree as a beacon for all of LIFE, past, present, future. It contains history in a way that collapses history where past, present and future are one. It extends beyond human history to that of the Universe...if not the Multiverse! Humanity was not present at the beginning of the Universe, but life in its broadest sense, began then. The tree, for me at least, is the perfect form to take as a symbol that encapsulates all of LIFE. That's why I use it as a beacon.
The painting above Beacon has the tree-of-life at centre stage. It's two 'roots' create an impression of an outline of a mountain...a landscape. Yet, these 'roots' could be tethers unleashed, allowing the tree to take flight as a meaningful symbol...into the 21st century! The background is indeterminate. Is it the sky, outer space, inside a bubble or a raindrop? And the white balls...are they planets, cells, atoms, other universes? Whatever they are, they seem to watch over the tree, at the same time as being illuminated by it.
My thoughts about untethering the tree-of-life from traditional visual interpretations are coupled with my quest to untether ideas of landscape from Earth-bound horizons. Untethering is necessary because 21st century cosmological research is pushing the boundaries/horizons of the close and far distances of the Universe. If humanity is to grasp new horizons and perspectives with curiosity and bravery, we need to embrace science, but also symbols and artistic interpretations that engage and include us in the ever changing wonder. I suspect our physical and spiritual survival depends on it!
My next solo exhibition is called Untethering Landscape
Here are some more paintings where I have painted the tree as a beacon...of hope and life.
 Hope Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm 2013
 Are We There Yet? Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm 2013
 Untethered Landscape Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm 2013
 Playing With Landscape Oil on linen 80 x 90 cm 2013
Super Earths Discovered Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm 2013
 Surrendering Horizon 100 x 150 cm 2014
New World Habitability - Vacation Anyone? Oil on linen 70 x 102 cm 2014
Next Solo Exhibition
                                             UNTETHERING LANDSCAPE
2 - 14 September 2014
To see the exhibition webpage please click HERE