Ive been working on that large diptych for months & hesitating over the second stage of production, so making 'studies' is a way of thinking it out. I'd call them sketches, in that I'm drafting possible versions and experimenting with various technical treatments in aid of resolving the main/major work I'm actually focusing on.
That major piece, "Stimming" is like the conceptual motherload, and the direction I've begun steering towards, away from small stand alone sculptures to the low relief panels, called artworks on canvas and/or board. To me, they're relief sculptures, and the canvases, boards and walls are the plinths. The dimensional protrusion is mostly very low, fabric applique for instance, but to me, everything grows for a source, there is always an anchor, even if it’s a sheet of paper. So I see these pieces as sculpture.
My plan for 'Stimming' involves adhering highly detailed top surface layers over the landscape & Ive been kicking around different applications. The scale here is significant - the overall width of the diptych is over 2 meters - so it needs to be thoroughly well thought out. If I'm going to stick something all over canvases I've been working on for MONTHS, it has to be the most cunning and elegant solution. Simple is hard, isn't it?
This study is made up of three 8x10 inch deep profile boards, with numerous gesso & basecoat layers to build up the surface for gilding with Dutch metal leaf. I had other, more sculptural ideas regarding the top layer on this one but it's ended up a flat surface. But the clean gilded edges work in having it read as a solid block which I like very much. Lends it some weight & authority.
Comprising three distinct sections from Conrad Martens' "View from Craig End" 1840, the landscape is spread across the array, with defined but staggered horizon lines - clearly demarked earth and sky sections - on each panel. The intent is to read this as a continuum, without being a literal singular landscape. Being a sketch, these are not highly detailed works but serve their purpose as indications of 'landscape'.
Now I will have a little chat about Conrad Martens. I would like to begin by paying my respect to the Dharug and Kuring-Gai people, who are the traditional custodians of this land and pay my respects to the Elders both past and present.
I so admire the work of Conrad Martens. I cringe with embarrassment to say it but I really love that I can feel his joy & fascination in seeing the new-to-him beauty & grandeur of the Australian landscape. In this study, I compose a different chapter structure of his work in a narrative of my own devising. But similarly, I'm also colonising someone else's story, someone else's experience and memory and I dont even leave the confines of my studio. I access the world at large through images on screen, much like we all do, and somehow, these dated landscape paintings - and again, cripplingly embarrassing to say - let me feel that joy in being surrounded by the stunning natural beauty that is so unique. These paintings dont ask for much, are not taxing in inrellect & they're so still. I latched onto Conrad Martens so long ago that I feel I own him now, he's my personal property, in the way that reading the book before seeing the movie makes one feel ownership of the whole story. The Mosman Art Gallery, whom own this painting, describe it as "fluid picturesque renderings of sea and shore and the atmospheric affects of light". He may not be genius level but he's mine.
Stencil cutting craziness
The batik patterning is me. Its laid over the view like a cloth of gold, tattooed onto and holding down, injected into, permanently branded. My South East Asian childhood, my Father's unexpected suicide, our struggle fitting into this entirely unknown country where everyone but us knew the rules. I certainly couldn't connect the dots & that remains true today. How to make sense of it all? Mostly I think of landscapes as a metaphor for the pathos & the beauty of human experience, feeling God is in every particle. Thats where I find my connection, where the layers of imagery and personal/universal human narrative hum together and make beauty. God is in every particle.