Friday, October 02, 2015


Damned Gouache on paper 21 x 30 cm 2011
Recently, in the news, there was a report about an abandoned silver mine near Texas in S.W Queensland on the border of New South Wales, Australia. Contaminated ponds pose risks to the local Dumaresqu River, which flows into the McIntyre River, which then flows southwards into the Murray Darling. Apparently, it only needs a minimal amount of rain to fall to cause havoc with overflow into the river systems.
This kind of situation is totally unacceptable, especially in the 21st century where no-one, mining companies and governments, can claim ignorance of environmental sustainability issues.
The work on paper above Damned [and detail below] was painted a few years ago, but it still 'speaks'...even 'screams' to us today. The word 'damned' is repeated to appear like water in a holding facility, such as a dam or a pond. It could also be the bed of a river or creek. Obviously I am playing with the word dam!
To be damned is a serious thing - conjuring an array of different possibilities from the wrath of God to condemnation, anger, frustration and denouncement. And...if we pollute and contaminate our waterways we are damned in a way that potentially threatens our very existence!
Detail Damned Gouache on paper 21 x 30 cm 2011
The thought that human existence, along with plants and non-human animals, can be threatened by contaminated water may seem extreme, but we are all interconnected in such a way that even a small risk must be taken seriously.
The news report mentioned above is just one story, but there are many potential stories like it. Questions about 'value', normally referring to money, dominate debates. Who pays reparation, especially when a mine, or similar, goes into liquidation and there is no money left to maintain or fix? This is compounded when governments have requested inadequate financial assurances at planning or approval stages. While people wait for an answer it could rain and tip the water level in contaminated ponds into wider catchments with potentially devastating results. What is value and what is valued?
In my painting Risk [below and Detail underneath] I have painted strips of rain, water in a dam or creek/river bed, and underground aquifers in small blue $ signs. The word 'Risk' is also painted in small $ signs, but the colour red signals a warning, perhaps multiple warnings, about how we value money, water, life and existence.
Risk is not a condemnation of money as a symbol of exchange. Rather, it is a provocation to think about the many aspects of value.
And, there's a play with notions of currency! The currency of water as it ebbs and flows, a system of money in use in a country, being current - contemporary, implied momentum within a system such as political currency.
Maybe if we take risk seriously - currency in all its permutations will be re-negotiated, re-imagined even?
Risk Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2010 [Sold]
 Detail Risk Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2010 [Sold]
The two paintings above Damned and Risk are landscapes - loaded ones! Regular readers know of my love of landscape and my attempts to re-think what landscape is in the 21st century. I have my cosmic landscape which try to untether notions of landscape from Earth-bound horizons. I also have my Earth-based ones, such as the two above. Yet, the link is imaging the future...

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