Thursday, August 22, 2019


Scary Research?
I am often asked if my research into contemporary militarised or militarise-able technology makes me scared. A few people have said they feel fearful when they see my paintings. I have even had some fearful people say they don't want to hear about my research!

Fortunately for me, most people genuinely appreciate an introduction to issues associated with contemporary militarised and militarise-able technology. If they happen to be already informed about issues, they are interested in how I visually scrutinise drones, signals, connectivity etc. The topic opens up discussions that include, for example, the potential mal-appropriation of militarised technologies by state or non-state protagonists. Many people say they enjoy being challenged by my work. Some quiz me for ages.

But, truthfully, the topic is a sobering one. Through mal-intent, accident or design, contemporary technologies pose potential serious risks, even existential risks*. If they are militarise-able or weaponisable is some form or another, the risks are arguably heightened. Astronomer and cosmologist, Lord Martin Rees in his 2002 book Our Final Century: Will Civilisation Survive the Twenty-First Century? makes a clear argument that like at no other time in human history, 21st century humans are creating technologies that could cause global catastrophic impacts.

Yes, it is a bit scary!

For me, the scariest aspects of 21st century technology are the speed of technological development and the speed of technological operation. Legal, regulatory, social and cultural responses to technological development have difficulty keeping up. And, when interconnected and networked systems operate at near light speed signaling, human dimensions of time and space are excluded. To keep pace with light speed transmissions, artificial intelligence is increasingly used to monitor, react, respond. After all, it can keep up! So, where will that leave us humans?

My imagination goes into overdrive when I think about these things - and - paintings are created!

* Check out the work being done at the Centre for the Study Of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge.

Occupied Landscape Oil on canvas 76 x 76 cm 2018

My grandmother D. E Ross, wrote the above poem about me. I suspect I was not having 'sad thinkings', but at nearly four I did not know how to say 'philosophical or existential thinkings'! As a child I remember thinking about the end of life - not just mine - but all life. How far was the universe, what happened after people died, where did they go? Were we humans alone in this vast universe? What was time? I remember being a bit scared by my thoughts. As I tried to imagine, I remember feeling like my imagination would burst!  I am sure many readers remember having similar ponderings.

I love that my grandmother wrote 'long distance in her eyes', because distance is a recurring theme in my life and work. From the literal spatial distance of the landscape of my childhood and its influence on my work, to understanding how distance works in creative painting practice, to inviting viewers to fly with me in imagination in my paintings, to the distance of painting [by a human] from the contemporary technological system ie: painting can be used to critique the contemporary technological system without using digital, cyber or electronic platforms for creation, exhibition and storage.

Maybe this poem is an indication that risk analysis was possibly one of my strengths!

Maybe my grand mother's poem indicates that I would be an artist?



POP Gallery, 381 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

More details are available HERE

I am getting ready to install the exhibition. So apart from the paintings I also need a tool kit.

 Tool kit ready for installation day 

Some of the smaller paintings packed, ready to go.


Sunday, August 11, 2019


Sky - Drone - Net Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm [unframed] 2016

I had a lovely surprise recently. Out of the blue, author and songwriter, Mary Amato, contacted me. Mary creates music inspired by STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Her music puts an A into STEM = STEAM!

Anyway, she had composed music and lyrics for a piece that deals with drones. The piece is called Drone's Love Song 

And, my painting Sky - Drone - Net is now Drone's Love Song's image!

You can listen to Drone's Love Song HERE or below.

Keep an ear out for words like - bombing, spying, dirty work, remote and more. The lilting sounds of instruments and Mary's voice seem to initially belie the darkness contained in the music and lyrics. This, I think, connects with the aesthetic appeal of my work, which also seems to initially belie darkness. But, these initial reactions to listening and seeing are shattered as contemplation draws the listener and the viewer in. This shattering opens up an array of other reactions and thoughts - deepening the experience - provoking questions.

I was recently given a book of poems by an Australian poet called A. Frances Johnson. The anthology is called Rendition for Harp & Kalashnikov Johnson addresses a range of issues, including contemporary war.

If you love poetry - if you are interested in how the arts can critique contemporary war and accelerating militarised technologies - if you are particularly concerned about issues associated with weaponisable drones - Rendition for Harp & Kalshnikov is a must!

There are a number of poems that directly refer to drones and the various issues associated with surveillance and the remote deliverance of death. The poems are beautiful and sad, empathetic and cutting.

One poem called, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Versus Poem, positions poetry not necessarily as a winner of a competition, but as something that enables much more that a UAV - therefore - there is no competition. My prosaic words do not do justice to the incisive brilliance of this poem, but what I am trying to say is that this poem tells us something about the power of poetry. In doing so it tells us something about the power of art.

You will have to buy the anthology!



And, please visit OCCUPIED LANDSCAPES: EVIDENCE OF DRONES to keep up to date with all the details for my forthcoming exhibition Occupied Landscapes: Evidence of Drones!

The New Clouds Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Saturday, August 03, 2019


Beware the Shadow Oil on linen 30 x 30 cm 2018

Look Again At That Dot Oil on linen 23 x 29.5 cm 2018

This month is my thirteenth blogging anniversary! I have, mostly, posted once a week for thirteen years. Yes, my middle name is PERSISTENCE! 

I really enjoy blogging. It has become very much part of my creative practice. As I write I think through things differently, and new ideas are triggered. These new ideas become paintings, and the cycle continues. 

Thank-you to my readers and anyone who passes by, even momentarily.

As I gear up for my forthcoming exhibition Occupied Landscapes: Evidence of Drones   I am thinking about how I might hang the paintings in the show. I will be including some paintings that do not depict airborne militarised drones or indications of their presence. This is a deliberate curatorial decision. It provides another layer to the visual conversation the paintings have with each other, as well as the conversation a viewer has with the exhibition. Given that the title of the exhibition includes the word 'evidence' I want people to look for evidence of drones in paintings that do not depict drones or indications of their presence. What they see or not see, is not up to me. 

When a painting without a drone is hung near a painting that does depict a drone, what do you think happens? For example the two paintings above are in 'conversation'. Look Again At That Dot does not depict a drone, whereas Beware the Shadow depicts two drones. 

What happens when you place a painting that depicts both the pale blue dot and drones? For example, Drone Spiral (No 2) below.

I am really looking forward to hanging  Occupied Landscapes: Evidence of Drones  
Tuesday 27 August - Saturday 7 September Open daily 10 am - 4 pm
POP Gallery, 381 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Australia.
For more details please check out the exhibition page HERE

Drone Spiral (No 2) Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2018

I have two paintings on loan at the Australian Institute of Biotechnology and Nanotechnology  (AIBN) at the University of Queensland, Australia. 

Last Monday I gave a short presentation to the AIBN Board and academics. It was a fun event.  I thoroughly enjoyed the incredibly stimulating conversations I shared with researchers working at the cutting edge of their various fields.

The two paintings Beginning of Everything and Objects (both below) are great works to have hanging in a research institution focused on biotechnology and nanotechnology. Why? Because, both paintings can be 'read' as either something very large or something very small. For example Beginning of Everything could be a vast landscape formed by the cascading tree-of-life erupting from the bottom left corner. Or, it could be a cross-section of something seen under a microscope. The painting plays with perspective - are you above a vast land form, or below some kind of portal enticing you into another universe, or are you witnessing the beginning of the universe? There are many possibilities - that's why I called it Beginning of Everything. Objects can also be 'read' in a multiple of ways. Are the round balls atoms or planets? Are you above, below or with them? 

Beginning of Everything Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm 2010

Objects Oil on linen 85 x 147 cm 2015