Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Living With Distance Diptych 120 x 160 cm

Over the last week I have been posting some older paintings on Instagram . I've also posted some to Facebook. These paintings are from my early 2000s bride-in-the-landscape series. And, something strange and pleasing has happened...people are responding to them in slightly different ways to responses I received 13 or so years ago. Did people like them years ago? Yes, but not quite in the same way.

The painting above Living With Distance reminded me of some of the weather maps/images we Australians have recently been viewing with great interest. Cyclone Marcia hit the coast of Queensland, at Yeppoon, last week, causing great destruction. The accompanying heavy rains have caused flooding across the central and inland coast. Interestingly, when I uploaded this painting to Facebook and Instagram, I had one person comment that it looked like a weather image. This person is from California! I was thrilled that someone had picked up on what I also had seen in my own work.

When I painted Living With Distance I was thinking about the young brides who follow their rural-based husbands into the distance of geographical isolation. However, I was also 'playing' with the idea of distance within a relationship.

Assimilation Oil on linen 80 x 100 cm
Assimilation is also reminiscent of a weather map/image. The bride's form seems to becomes the indicator of water flow or cloud cover! When I painted this I was thinking about the country bride who becomes absorbed by the land. Her life depends on the ebbs and flows of the landscape...AND the weather. She also becomes part of a community where women are a force of spirit and involvement in everything from the arts, education, welfare, health and well being.
Flying Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm
Memory Oil on linen 80 x 100 cm
Previous posts The Moon and Memory
The four paintings above all have a hovering or flying theme! The bride and her spirit watch from above, yet she is intrinsic to the patterns and rhythms of the land. In Flying the bride is like a cloud. Her shadow is cast across the landscape which she is a part of, but also separate from. Her presence has influence. It's as if she is a custodian or symbolic of Mother Nature looking after her Earth.
In Memory the bride and her young self as a child hover over a landscape that is cosmic in appearance. Maybe this is one of my early cosmic paintings...and I was not even aware of it until NOW! The phases of the moon symbolise the passing of time. The bride reflects upon the dreams she had as a child. Or, maybe the child is projecting into the future?
Life Oil on linen 80 x 200 cm
Life visualises the milestones of a girl's life. Birth, childhood, education, marriage, pregnancy and motherhood, death! This painting is a bit DARK methinks! I'll let you think upon that for a bit!

So, why are my bride-in-the-landscape paintings resonating with people in a slightly different way to ten or more years ago? There could be a number of reasons. A lot can happen in a decade. Here are some considerations, off the top of my head.

  • With the deluge of imagery on the internet and social media available today, maybe we are generally more aware of patterns across such things as weather maps and bride-in-the-landscape paintings?!
  • We currently have a heightened awareness of domestic violence, and whilst my paintings are not about domestic violence, the vulnerability of the bride symbol does affect people, even subliminally.
  • We also have heightened discussion about same sex marriage. The idea of marriage is being re-negotiated, albeit slowly, on social, religious, political and economic fronts.
  • I have daughters and I am aware that young women today are balancing many considerations against those that could be considered more traditional dreams, such as marriage and children. I am also aware that young men are taking part in these discussions. The latter is probably the thing that seems so different to when I got married, for instance!
  • Due to the internet, non-stop news, social media etc there is more awareness of the status of women in other cultures. These include traditions of marriage. And, some of these shock us.
  • And another possibility at a subliminal level. Maybe the vulnerability of Earth's sustainability seems more fragile when a bride's presence evokes purity and the call to Mother Nature?

The paintings above are only a selection of my bride series of work.

With International Women's Day next week, I will post some more of my bride paintings. Also, I have some exciting news about a painting and a UK publication! Shall keep you informed.

My Mum's exhibition Testimonies is up! Here are the details.

My Mum, Elsie Brimblecombe, has been exhibiting her paintings for a few years now. She is inspired by the written word. Each of her exhibitions has been themed to a particular writer and book/poems.
This year's exhibition is a series of paintings inspired by the modern Greek poet Yannis Ritsos . The two paintings below will be in Elsie's exhibition.
Place: Upfront Club - 31 Maple St, Maleny, Queensland, Australia.
Dates: 20 February - 18 March 2015
Please check the Upfront Club for opening times - they open from 7.30 am 7 days - you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning and afternoon tea there, but just check what days they open till late etc. They also have live gigs there, so you could combine seeing some art and listening to music!

Monday, February 16, 2015


Code oil on linen 60 x 110 cm 2015
I've written about Code twice before HERE and HERE

There are a couple of movies coming out soon that I am really looking forward to seeing. One is called Chappie from District 9 director Neil Blomkamp.

And, another movie is called Ex Machina directed by Alex Garland.

Both tell tales of artificial general intelligence, robots and human reaction to these.

Both movies come at a time when serious discussions about artificial intelligence [AI] and artificial general intelligence [AGI] are occurring around the world. These discussions are taking place at the very pointy end of scientific and philosophical research*. There are not only potential advantages, but also perhaps major risks associated with the development of artificial intelligence and super-intelligence.What may have been considered scifi ten or more years ago, is no longer a tenant of the impossible. 

Last week I took myself off to see another movie... Kingsman: The Secret Service I loved it...a spy spoof, with Colin Firth as one of the leading characters! But, there are links to the discussion about technology's capability to transform/change humanity. In the movie a super-rich malevolent megalomaniac, attempts to take control of human free-will via implants and the ubiquitous 'smart' phone. In a way his deranged intelligence, coupled with his immense technological power, is a metaphor for the fear of AI and AGI gone array. We also see low Earth orbit satellite destruction, remote control of vehicles and a lot more techno gadgetry; much of it spoofing James Bond movies.

Yet, like a couple of other movies I have written about recently [Interstellar and The Hunger Games] Kingsman: The Secret Service channels fears of existential risk. It's not overt, but it pervades as a background resonance. Rather than spoiling the movie for those who have not seen it, all I will say is that existential risk caused by climate change is a catalyst for the story. This is essentially the same catalyst for the story that unfolds in Interstellar. Each movie takes entirely different story telling paths though!

The existential risks and fears associated with AI and AGI seem to drive Chappie and Ex Machina. I am particularly looking forward to Chappie as I have seen the preview shorts a few times and I am fascinated that even in a few minutes Chappie's 'personality' reached out to me. Chappie is an intelligent robot! But, even though Chappie is clearly a robot, the moviemakers have successfully utilised anthropomorphising techniques, beyond making it a biped with head and arms, to create a character with personality that is intelligent and seemingly sentient. For example, in the shorts, we see the robot engaging with a dog, just like a human would. And, we see the robot drawing, en plein air, a picture of a car that it is observing. Getting a robot to relate to an animal, particularly a dog [humankind's best friend], and creating 'art' are very clever ways to anthropomorphise! I gather that in Ex Machina a scene where the intelligent robot Ava is drawing is also pivotal. Yet, there is a danger in anthropomorphising robots, AI, AGI etc...I think anyway. By doing so we project ourselves onto the robot/AI...and I'd say that projection is a kind of wishful thinking with all its inherent blind spots!

Meeting Place Of The Mind Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm

I am keen to see what Chappie does with its drawing. I am also keen to see Ava's drawing. Why? Because there's drawing and then there's drawing! Yet, there must be something about art and creating art that we humans understand as an essential sign of  being human. So, if a machine can 'create' art then it must pass THE TEST [Turing Test]. But as I wrote above, there's drawing and then there's drawing...rendering something perfectly with technical and realistic virtuosity is not necessarily art or creative! What would happen if the robot/AI made a mistake, how would it problem solve? Indeed, maybe making a mistake would be another sign of human-ness?

* The 'pointy end' of research that I referred to above is taking place at such as The Centre For The Study Of Existential Risk at Cambridge University, Future Of Life Institute based in Boston and Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute


Saturday, February 07, 2015


Multiple Choice 100 x 70 cm 2015
  • Discussion about my new painting Multiple Choice
  • My Mum's [Elsie Brimblecombe] forthcoming exhibition Testimonies
  • News
When I was a student [primary secondary and tertiary] I hated multiple choice exams! Why? Because, unless it was really clear that a 'black and white' question was asking for a 'black and white' answer, I always saw possibility in 'what if'. Questions may not have been clear enough and thus lead to 'what if' wondering. The choice of answers often triggered 'what if' type pondering. And, before I knew it, I had wasted minutes wondering rather than answering...and I'd run out of time to complete tests. As I got older, I learnt to switch off my wondering and give a tick to the answer that seemed, on first impression, to be the right one. I got quite good at switching off my wondering and I ultimately did better in multiple choice exams...a learned technique got me through. Although, I often still did not finish the test!

However, it did not stop me wondering completely!
Choice, in reality, does require wondering....don't you think? And, that can and should take time.
For instance, as more and more potentially habitable planets orbiting the Goldilocks zone around distant stars are discovered, there seems to be a suggestion that there will be a choice of potential alternative planetary homes for us to inhabit when Earth is compromised/destroyed, either by us or by external natural forces. But, as the recent film Interstellar indicated, it's really not that simple.

I suggest we do need to make massive efforts to ensure the sustainability of Earth! Why? Because, for the foreseeable future it is our only 'home' and we need time to work out what these choices of other 'homes' may mean. It's certainly not a black and white scenario! Let's not precipitate, more than we may already have, Earth's erosion and demise.  Choices of alternative planetary 'homes' requires a lot of wondering, thinking, pondering, calculating and more...and that all takes time. There's a plethora of reasons why we need to ensure Earth's sustainability, and one of them is to give us time to make the right decisions about future inter-planetary human settlement....if it's possible.

MULTIPLE CHOICE Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm
So, with what seems to be almost weekly new discoveries of potential Earth-like planets, I was thinking about choosing another planetary home.

In my painting, the round balls are planets...yep...representative of a multiple choice of planets. Each one is a different colour or shade of a colour, indicating that each offers a different environment that may or may not be conducive for life.

But where one planet could hover, I painted a tree instead. Yes, my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life. It sends an ambiguous message. And...regular readers know I like ambiguity. It could be Earth/humanity...seeking? Or, it could be our new home, calling out to us; a planet replicating Earth's life sustaining environment? Or...on a more sombre note...it could be life 'lost' in a Universal wilderness.
The painting is a landscape. A cosmic landscape. The red and blue background sets a landscape scene, yet it is not clear where this 'place' might be. It could be ground and sky, or it could be a snapshot of a shadowy, gaseous, dusty place in outer space.
At one instance Multiple Choice is a playful painting ...the colourful balls creating a party-like atmosphere. But, at another instance it suggests a juggling act where time is the essence...where getting the 'exam' 100% correct is imperative!
My Mum, Elsie Brimblecombe, has been exhibiting her paintings for a few years now. She is inspired by the written word. Each of her exhibitions has been themed to a particular writer and book/poems.
This year's exhibition is a series of paintings inspired by the modern Greek poet Yannis Ritsos . The two paintings below will be in Elsie's exhibition.
Place: Upfront Club - 31 Maple St, Maleny, Queensland, Australia.
Dates: 20 February - 18 March 2015
Please check the Upfront Club for opening times - they open from 7.30 am 7 days - you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning and afternoon tea there, but just check what days they open till late etc. They also have live gigs there, so you could combine seeing some art and listening to music!
Morning Acrylic on canvas by Elsie Brimblecombe

Association Acrylic on canvas by Elsie Brimblecombe
I received an official request from the State Library of Queensland to allow PANDORA [Australia's National web archive - National Library of Australia and partners] to archive my Blog...
 YES this one you are reading now! 
PANDORA is an official site for archiving 'online publications and websites of lasting significance' and 'research value' in perpetuity. I am really so very happy that my eight year old Blog has been acknowledged this way. 
I have three new 'galleries' on my website that are activated for online buying. This is a new facility for artists using the ArtHives system. My 'galleries' are:

Inner Child Gouache on paper 37.5 x 28 cm 1997
From my book For Everyone