This piece holds many meanings for me & it is my hope that it touches some part of you, that it connects in some small way with something within you, and that this connects us all. Its about beauty and sadness and glory and love and time. Mostly its about time.
Stimming & the Great Outdoors (after Conrad Martens) 2018.
Mirrored, compressed landscape & batik design. Acrylic, pastels, oil varnish, gold mica pigment on canvas.
Diptych, overall dimensions 1110x1820 mm (36x88 inches)
The landscape is an extrapolation of Conrad Martens’ Denn’s Falls, Tia River NSW, which I’ve crushed & compressed towards the center, concentrating, amplifying the drama, then flipped & mirrored it.
In addition to referencing my childhood connection to Sth East Asia, the batik patterning manifests the compulsive repetitive physical tics associated with autism and my connection to my son E. Its all the small marks, hundreds of them buzzing around & forming a shield like we have a force field here through which to moderate the sensory overload of the world ‘outside’.
This piece evolved over several months, having started as a quick sketch with acrylic paint on a canvas that was empty at the time. I kept on at it, because drawing on this scale is really enjoyable. Pretty soon that canvas had a friend because “one is never enough” has always been my problem. Mirroring feels absolutely apposite in this house, I’m now sharing the studio with my son E, who began an exploration of woodworking making small, highly detailed apparatus some months ago, and who’s rapidly improving skill is something at which to marvel. He’s become really good at it, really quickly. The dust he kicks up freaks me out but here we are, sharing all the spaces in the house. Its nice though, long silences are easy and banter is fun.
Broadly speaking, I think I make landscapes as experiences, where grand, dramatic scenes like this become inscapes, often made over several months & thus literally representing the passage of time. And its through seeing paintings such as Denn’s Falls that I first came to appreciate the grandeur of the Australian landscape, which was completely new to me as a 12 year old. I knew I was Australian, but with expat parents, we never actually lived here till then, nor had there been any suggestion that we ever would. To be honest I’m still not sure where home is but I feel closest to God when I’m creating my own, like this one.
I would say my love of gold and decorative details comes from a desire to create something noble, pure and good. Gorgeous & powerful even. Theres a lot of power in decoration, it can completely transform people, places and things and raise them to philosophically lofty heights. Its drawn, etched, painted and carved onto most objects in daily life throughout South East Asia and is rarely figurative. I like the flatness of it, it behaves itself & stays in one dimension, asks for little & repays in a kind of gentle pleasure. Facing the world protected by this benign barrier is something we all do, every day. Our family filtration system is perhaps a tad more, shall we say, militaristic with a global focus. We’re on the job.
Start to finish. And Ive finished this now. I have other things I want to make.