Friday, April 17, 2020


$torm Oil on linen 31 x 66 cm 2020

Like so many other people I have been keeping an eye on the news about COVID-19. The news ranges from the serious, sad, dire to hopeful - from medical research, hopes for a vaccine, to terrible deaths and seemingly miraculous recoveries, to limited PPE, isolation stories, increased surveillance and concerns if this becomes normalised, to economic strife and more.

Landscape as Metaphor
My newest painting $torm, like my recent painting On The Edge of Fury: A Landscape for Our Time [below] turns to landscape as a metaphoric way to analyse and visualise anxieties triggered by the current pandemic. In $torm I have painted a strip of red rain, falling out of, and into, a turbulent landscape. The angry red 'raindrops' are painted as small $ signs. You have to get up close to see the $ signs - this is deliberate.

How have quests for a exponential financial edges and growth, instead of simple financial exchange, predisposed the world to global pandemic? Let's think about  '$torm clouds' that have brewed for decades. 
  • industrialised farming causing breakdowns in natural containment of rare microbes, 
  • practices that cause pollution of our air, land and water, 
  • culinary desires for exotic animals exacerbating the potential for animal to human contagion transfer, 
  • nation-states fearful of losing face,
We are in the eye of the '$torm' now. How we navigate the tension between keeping people healthy/saving lives and economic considerations will define how we live with each other in post-pandemic decades. It seems some nations are handling the situation better then others.... 

Lives should always come first...

While On The Edge of Fury: A Landscape for Our Time features the flat western horizon of my childhood landscape, the landscape in $torm is inspired by the easterly horizon. In the west there was nothing, in the east the Bunya Mountain range cut a majestic silhouette against the sky. A sacred gathering place for Indigenous Australians over eons, the Bunya Mountains are never really at rest. As I went to school each day on the school bus I would gaze at the Bunya Mountains. On a hot summer's day shimmering mirages tried to obscure the mountains, but they fought back. During wild storms the mountains darkened, sentinels watching over the flat naturally treeless Pirrinuan and Jimbour Plains. As the Bunya Mountains changed colour during the course of a day, they seemed to tell stories. Maybe these stories were warnings? 

$torm, with its rolling colours and multiple contours, a night sky seemingly supporting the the whole painting, is perhaps, a warning?

On The Edge of Fury: A Landscape for Our Time  Oil on linen 30 x 40 cm 2020

$ Signs
I have previously used small $ signs to paint landscape elements. $urveillance [below] is from 2016. It 'speaks' to the military-industrial complex through a critique of surveillance, particularly undertaken by sky-based technologies, such as airborne drones and satellites. This painting intersects with $torm because there is increasing commentary on the potential future outcomes of normalising surveillance measures undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent article 'Pandemic Drones': Useful for Enforcing Social Distancing, or for Creating a Police State by Dr. Michael Richardson [Uni of New South Wales, Australia] is an example of increasing concerns. 

 $urveillance  Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2016

A few other paintings where I use small $ signs include:
Risk  2010
Planet $  2011


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