Life drawing is my passion right now. My first exhibition in the new Brunswick heads studio space will consist of works I have completed over the last couple of years.
Essentially, my art is an exploration of what happens in stillness. Just like the oceans draw towards the moon, there are forces that move me, that are beyond my control or understanding. So in my art making, I observe what direction and movement things take with little or no mental guidance. I let go into the process and see what happens.
My acrylic paintings begin with broad marks and accidental happenings, that are born out of a high energy and letting go of control. Layer upon layer the textures and colours are built up through a series of intentional yet accidental marks. I might intend an action, but what actually happens on the canvas is accidental. And the next intention grows out of what happened in the last. Finishing an artwork is a delicate process that requires much inquiry, sitting and waiting for the path forward to emerge. During this phase, the mark-making becomes very deliberate and thoughtful, the energy is very still. Often the work will sit on a wall in my studio or house for months during this phase, waiting for the right time, the right mark, waiting for completion.
My creek print series is made from the surface of Belongil Creek and other estuaries near where I live. The seasons, the weather, the movements of aquatic life and the daily tidal patterns, are some of the many cyclical factors that effect the contours and water quality of an estuary. Often, and sometimes not so often, a sort of scum builds up on the surface of the creek near its edges. Drawing from a similar project of mine in Bangkok, I decided to try to capture this on canvas. In the heavily burdened waterways of Bangkok, the thick layer floating on the water surface was nauseating. The work was an environmental statement, aimed to draw attention to a long overlooked problem. But here on the banks of Belongil Creek, where there is little human impact in comparison, the floating film is very subtle and beautiful. The film is sepia in colour, made up of a combination of decaying microscopic phytoplankton and tannin. It floats on the surface of the creek because of its natural oils. It is a part of the estuary’s natural cyclical rhythm.
When captured on paper, even the most transparent surface scum leaves a beautiful mark. To make a print, I simply place the paper onto the surface of the water and carefully lift it off again. Like the start of my paintings, I have little control over what happens here, some will drip away and some will remain. After drying, and fixing the prints, I decide whether to work on them further with acrylic mediums and transparent glazes.
As an artist, I am inspired by nature and natural rhythms. Cycles, spirals, water, transformation, impermanence, alchemy. More than anything else, I am inspired by my own and other people’s responses to beauty. Like when you see a sunset, that sense of just being totally in the moment, when the magic takes over your being and all else falls away.
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