Friday, September 04, 2015

Life Calling. Anyone There? Oil on linen 70 x 140 cm
Life Calling. Anyone There? is currently in the 2015 Tattersall's Landscape Art Award, here in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. This is an award devoted to landscape and attracts a $30,000 prize. You can see all the finalists on the slideshow on this link HERE 
Unlike a lot of art awards, this is an invitation competition. I am thrilled to have again been invited to participate.
The opening was a few nights ago...and what a fabulous opening it was too. The best thing was that so many of the artists were there. The winner of the award is well known Brisbane-born artist Noel McKenna . His winning entry Farm Scene is number 47 on the slide show mentioned above. And, congratulations to Noel.
The judges for the 2015 award were Tattersall's Club Committee Member, and former Club Chief Executive Officer, Michael Paramor, Curatorial Manager of Australian Art QAGoma, Jason Smith, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Nick Mitzevick and Associate Professor of the Faculty of Education and Art at the Australian Catholic University, Lindsay Farrell. You can read more about the history of the prize HERE
The exhibition of entries will be on public view from September 7 - 18 at Waterfront Place, Brisbane. If you are in Brisbane, please pop in to see the paintings.
Life Calling. Anyone There? 
I entered Life Calling. Anyone There? because at about the time of choosing which painting to enter there was news about a Russian Billionaire, Yuri Milner, donating one hundred million dollars to listen for aliens. You can read about it here on Wired. I was interested that two observatories would be part of this very interesting project...and one of them is Australia's Parkes Telescope . The listening project is called Breakthrough Listen and the aim is to focus on listening for, rather than trying to communicate with, aliens [extra-terrestrial intelligence]. The data that is collected will be open source, so anyone can access it.
There's a whole other 'conversation' about the pros and cons of listening for and/or trying to communicate with aliens! That's another post.
So...I thought Life Calling. Anyone There? would be a very apt painting to enter the Tattersall's Landscape Art Award because when I painted it, I was thinking about the fascination we humans have with questions about aliens. As I wrote in my previous post about the painting the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence is a serious scientific pursuit. The SETI Institute in California must be a fascinating place to work! Of course the search for life does not necessarily begin and end with the search for intelligent life. There are many scientists undertaking research in signs of any kind of life, from microbes to more. There's even an area of research called astrobiology. Check out NASA's astrobiology site!
Life Calling. Anyone There? depicts two landscapes - one in the foreground and the planet. Yes, regular readers will identify that this painting is one of my attempts to untether notions of landscape from Earth-bound horizons. The idea that a whole planet is a landscape maybe unusual, but in many of my paintings I propose that the whole universe is a landscape. After is Earth's environment! This is becoming clearer as images from outer space, back towards Earth, place it within a universal perspective. The most famous photograph Pale Blue Dot, taken as Voyager 1 left the solar system in 1990, had a profound influence on how people viewed planet Earth. And, yes I am now going to direct you to the post I wrote for my own painting called Pale Blue Dot!
In Life Calling. Anyone There? two trees-of-life seem to call to each other, via the 'transmitter' of leaves. The viewer is unsure which way the 'conversation' is going. Who made contact first? Initially the viewer might assume that the landscape in the foreground is Earth...but it does not necessarily have to be! And, the planet...that's not necessarily Earth either. This ambiguity raises the possibility that beings on two other planets maybe communicating with each other!
There's also a metaphoric, rather than a speculative, reading of Life Calling. Anyone There? There are so many alienated souls on Earth calling for help and assistance, recognition, acknowledgement and more. Who is listening to them? Currently catastrophic geo-political events are causing unimaginable suffering to people fleeing from their homes, seeking refuge in other countries. Currently, the rates of suicide seem to be increasing. Currently, domestic violence causes weekly deaths of women and sometimes in Australia. The abyss-like divides that occur with opportunity, wealth, safety, compassion and care, are like the mammoth distances between two planets.
Seems to me that any alien who observed us Earthlings might not think we're enlightened or intelligent enough to bother communicating with!
So on that rather sombre note!

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