I like to capture unusual almost unnatural graphic romantic effects that can occur at times like sunrise and sunset. Low red light changing quickly to orange as the sunrises can appear to visually distort parts of the landscape making it temporarily alien. This morning as I walked onto the beach before sunrise I witnessed an unusual cloud formation. I remembered the last time I observed a similar shape as it inspired an artwork titled Dawn Cloud Trajectory, 2010 from a series of artwork titled Return to Sand and Water
MIDDLE STAGES 1
The following stages in my layered style of painting gradually move into application of middle layers. Often taking much longer to paint these stages are about tonal values, colour, line and shape. Because I emphasise the textural aspects of a composition and juxtapose them with flat abstracted shapes it requires modification of other compositional elements. These stages are often messy as paint is pushed and pulled and poured, objects fade and then part or all of their shape and volume need reestablishing.
This commission is centered on a land-form called Point Roadknight situated on the Surf Coast along the Great Ocean Road. Part of my process includes taking photographs and frottage. The photographs show the context, the environment in which the specific rocks that structure this feature of the landscape. The particular rocks are columnar in shape and resemble revealed ancient ruins as softer material around then eroded. The columnar shaped rocks are hard but also brittle mineralised calcification caused by rain leaching through top layers of the land-form. The painting is about erosion of the rock face and its reflection in pools and on wet sand. I would like the final image to show a partly dissolved structure surrounded by a watery environment. I approach this topic with nostalgia because the rate of erosion seems quite fast as each winter less of the Point remains especially these ” columns” and their configuration. But first the visual and tactile exploration.
These are only three of the many studies that help me appreciate the action of water and the resulting erosion. I then take frottage from rocks in this area.
I moulded rice paper to particular rock textures over which I rubbed graphite to produce a type of print or rubbing called a frottage.
The next stage involved placing the rice paper frottage onto the canvas with gesso where I combined them with a rough ink drawing. Then I poured ink and gesso onto the surface as a way to suggest part of the rock structure. A blue over painting wash consisted of oil painted diluted with gum turpentine.
Some images from prehistory have influenced many artists throughout the course of the 20th century, many of which can be found in the new book titled Invisible Women of Prehistory: three million years of peace, six thousand years of war by Judy Foster with Marlene Derlet.
Some of my earlier work from the 1970s to the 90s was influenced by Tassili rock art.
Later aspects of the Minoan Bronze Age and Ancient Greek myth influenced me because these legends were on the fringe of history and prehistory. The imagery on the excavated art, sculpture, artifacts and architecture were witness to cultural and social upheaval. However in Minoan figurines were displayed positive depictions of women often depicted in rituals and social interaction. They were not confined to domestic spheres.
These sensitively depicted drawings by Judy Foster are interesting because they show that in Crete styles of sculpture appeared to change over time. Figures 1 and 2 are dated approx. 4500 BC. The Neolithic style of imagery, theriomorphic and stylised meant that it referred to all women. Where as figures 3 and 4, dated approx. 1600 BC depict a particular person. Generally art of the Neolithic has an abstract character compared with that of Minoan Crete where naturalism came to the fore, The type of activity, style of dress details, attributes and emblems were rendered carefully. In comparison figures 1 and 2 are static, that is the body and head morph and distort into aspects of a snake, bird and column. However the later representations that also refer to animals show depictions of real figures and real animals. Instead of a columnar shaped head and neck in figure 1 the image, that is figure 3, of what is thought to be a priestess has a column shaped headdress.
What these four figures have in common is complex symbolism, aspects of which are explored in this book.
The symbolism and meaning became a poetic source incorporated into my imagery as I aimed to combine Minoan symbolism with European oil painting. I visited Crete to aid to my research in 1993.
My imagery during the last ten years developed and changed, the symbolism remained but functioned as a form of disguised symbolism. This enabled me to use the paint in a freer mode where its organic texture combined with abstract shapes. The image below is from a series titled Eye and Site 3.
The painting titled Recall, 2008, is from a series titled Eye and Site 2.
Recently I read a book titled Invisible Women Of Prehistory: three million years of peace, six thousand years of war by Judy Foster with Marlene Derlet . Both the text and drawn illustration were made clear by accompanying charts, classifications and time lines. The author/artist Judy Foster drew clear, concise and instructive drawings.
The authors give the reader an encyclopaedic overview of the many archaeological finds in the form of sculptures and imagery found on artifacts, figurines, ceramics, tools and on walls of prehistoric sites where female imagery is predominant. Throughout this world-wide survey the authors argue that society and civilisation were more gender balanced and that women invented agriculture, pottery, writing, and textiles in prehistory, were not war-like and that this was a universal phenomenon. However this benign situation changed when Indo-European invaders ushered in a different type of ‘civilisation’.
Europe during this time span was not the only site of excavation where this imagery was found. So it can now not be seen as an anomaly. Scenes of physical and psychological violence were generally absent and women’s status appeared to be higher than that at present. They challenge the academic resistance to the work of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas. Also challenged are ideas that the system we now live in has progressed from a past seen to be violent and brutal to the peaceful present.
Many contemporary artists, from the 1960s onward, (influenced by aspects of these theories, accompanying images of archaeological sites and imagery found in and around the sites and excavations), sought different ways to subvert and go beyond some art historical sexist depiction as well as some contemporary imagery.
On another level I thought significance also lay in challenging the perception of woman as minority which can lead to attitudes where Women’s rights are sometimes not understood as Human rights. In this way perceptions of the past can have ramifications for the present. As an artist I try to understand and explore origins and meanings encoded in imagery whether they relate to figure or landscape and this book will be a very handy reference.
Just now found a still life by artist Bernadette Boundy titled Pomegranates. It can be viewed on her blog : fairmuse100.blogspot.com
It is carefully observed and unfussy; a demonstration of skill as she combined a delicate with precision depiction and sensitive technique to create volume with evocative colours.
The last night of the trip with Coates Wildlife Tours was memorable and to celebrate the ending and parting from interesting travel companions we built a camp fire. The last camp and meal were celebrated with wine, song and ditties in which we thanked our tour guide Wayne whose knowledge of birds alerted us to every movement among foliage, rock and spinifex, and Director, driver and cook Tom whose skills kept us energised, safe, together and on time.
We also had the opportunity to view birds through Wayne’s telescope and identified almost 140 species. Plants also were a major focus as well as fauna. Many different reptiles caught our attention, I remember especially the Golden Monitor lizard in Dales Gorge who wasn’t fazed by people and cameras.
With my photographs, frottages and rock samples I anticipate many hours in my studio tackling artworks that capture aspects of the landscape. The geology of particular rock formation influenced the surface topography over time. I try to replicate aspects of these processes with paint textures and different mediums in which the paint is diluted or thickened.