Thursday, June 11, 2015


Coded Landscape Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm 2015
Regular readers will know that I grew up on a flat black-soil naturally treeless plain on the fertile Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia. The flatness and expanse of distance has influenced my art, but I suspect it also pre-disposed me to an embrace of cosmological/universal distance, both close and far.
The distance of my childhood landscape provided uninterrupted visions of Earth's horizon, often blurred on hot days by shimmering mirages. These horizons could also dominate with fantastic fiery crop-stubble burn-offs, as well as the tantalising promises of rain. At night the blackness extended into a sky that twinkled with the Milky Way. Yet, whilst far distance seemed to dominate, close distance was given free reign to entice. By this I mean, it was as if immense distance brought details to attention. For example, spidery cracks that appeared in the black soil as it dried after rain. Bigger and wider cracks  appeared as the soil yielded to drought. This cracking quickly disappeared with the arrival of rain. Other details include the faint tinge of green, across hectares of land, as the seeds my Dad planted grew into crops. Dust, chicken eggs, snake trails, spider webs, ants' nests, small whirly winds, the burst of mushrooms after rain, shooting stars...all these details and more were partners with distance.
The photo below was taken by my daughter on a recent trip to my childhood landscape and home. You can see the flatness of the land, naturally treeless and abounding with fertile deep black soil. The relentless blue sky meets the horizon in a definite line, only occasionally interrupted by a farm house. When there's a watery mirage, that blurs the meeting of sky and land, farmhouses seem to swim in a kind of elevated no-place. The crop that had been recently harvested, in this photo, is cotton. Cotton is a relatively new crop for the area I grew up in. When I was growing up, wheat, corn, oats and sorghum were the main crops my Dad and our neighbours planted. 

Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox and the Pirrinuan landscape
Now to my painting Coded Landscape. Even though it is only a small painting 15 x 21 cm, distance is obvious, both close and far. A string of binary code 'instructing' LIFE creates a landscape-like contour against a seemingly universal sky. The detail is in the code, yet so is the immense expanse. The painting has multiple inspirations - my childhood landscape, codification of so many aspects of life, perspective [literal and metaphoric], existence, cosmological history, the future and more.
For me, landscape and concepts of it, do link everything. How? At the instance of the Big Bang 'landscape' was born in the substance that became the universe, including Earth where our immediate understanding of landscape lies. Yet, in the 21st century we need to untether concepts of landscape from Earth-bound horizons. Whilst we humans arrived billions of years after the Big Bang, we also are 'landscape' because we are made from the same universal star dust.
'Landscape' provides a fluid framework for existence to be negotiated upon and within, and in reference to. Essentially it's a matter of perspective...which needs distance, metaphoric and literal! Existence IS landscape! And, perspective, literal and metaphoric, is crucially important for humanity to embrace in the 21st century. I have previously suggested that we need to develop skills of 'seeing' multi-perspectives...even simultaneously.
My Dad is a HAM radio enthusiast. On the farm he had tall aerials to capture and send signals, a shack full of electronic gear, and vehicles equipped with communication devices...and more. He could communicate with people all over the world, and this is well before the age of the internet. So, in this flat horizon-ed landscape of close and far distance, I grew up also surrounded by technology. Not only electronic technology but also the technologies utilised by farmers, particularly farmers who had a predisposition to tech innovation!
It is against this childhood background that I imagine 'landscape' as being the continuing framework for existence into a future where technology will have increasing influences, both good and bad. With sophisticated tools of perspective and an 'eye' on 'landscape' hopefully the former outcome reigns!
Coded Landscape will be in my forthcoming exhibition CODE
The Hidden Seen In My Mind's Eye Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2004
Tuesday 21 July - Sunday 2 August 2015
Open daily 10 am - 6 pm or by appointment
Graydon Gallery 29 Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Brisbane, Australia

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