Art, Identity & Place

How wild places, deep time and archaeology inform my contemporary art process


Collagraph and Collage

These two images were ‘accidents’ at the time but then developed into something else. The pink bleeding  happened accidentally when red coloured handmade paper and wet yellow tissue contacted each other. While part of the Mungo series  another direction presented itself, bring back memories of Mt Lyell in Queenstown, Tasmania.

Vegetation in this area of West coast cool rainforest in the roaring forties, denuded as a result of sulphur etc that spewed from the mine smoke stack was like being in a desert surrounded by earth colours.  Standing next to the open cut when the sun set and glowed on the bare earth’s surface was electric and it took a few days for me to get what I was on about. The dunes of Lake Mungo and the archaeological discoveries there were made possible by sheep grazing, removing grass thereby denuding and exposing  concealed dunes held together by that vegetation .

The presence of pink. gold, yellow and orange at Mungo was in my mind reminiscent of a copper mine open cut over a thousand miles south – a link between inspiration and memory.

Archaeologist at Latrobe University, Nicola Stern recently made further discoveries at what is one of Australia’s most important archaeological sites, described by Science Editor, Bridie Smith in The Age (Melbourne) on Thursday , the eighteenth of June, titled, ” Lake Mungo reveals its hidden secrets.”

To summarise, researchers established that the lake’s high water mark was 5 meters higher than realised and created an island between Lake Mungo and Lake Leaghur to the north, on which archaeologists found embedded in sediment stone tools and fireplaces. However Lake Mungo dried out 15,000 years ago as evidence to the east of the area attests.

New technology  now allows archaeologists to study a new line of beach gravel 5 meters above the main shoreline, therefore indicating that the lake held 250% more water than previously thought. The high water level lasted about 1000 years.

Dr Stern said that when the lake level dropped fine clay sediment from the exposed lake floor was wind-borne and dumped upon the coarser sand of the dune that originated from the beach at the lake’s edge when water levels were higher. ” When you’ve got sand, you know the lake was full and when you get clay you know that the lake was lower,” Dr Stern said.

These insights mean that the ancient indigenous inhabitants would have relied on watercraft in which to navigate this inland sea 24,000 years ago before the climate changed and turned this location into desert country.

This new information adds to how I reimagine this place. Although I printed and collaged several collagraphs, my new oil paintings will benefit from a more thorough understanding of how to look at traces of change left within the landscape.


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Mungo continued

These two images began with collagraph prints. The barely visible print in the first is concealed beneath two collaged rectangles consisting of silver leaf on red and black backgrounds. Shreds of print on semi transparent handmade paper then overlay parts of the leaf and allow part of the image beneath to ghost through.

I used a similar method with the second plate. The red collagraph print covers printed metal leaf placed on the first print that just shows through, visible in the lower section of the composition in the centre of which is a rectangular element of the imagery consisting of a silver leaf rectangle placed on a red surface.

I was trying to capture an idea of weathering process that shape the dunes and am ambivalent about the first image that may look better as a horizontal image. It began in horizontal format so… looks a bit too regular and structured maybe?

IMG_3462


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Mungo continued

I used the same zinc plate with a collagraph glued to its surface to begin a variable edition by arranging the plate, chine colle and metal leaf into different compositions where I explored different aspect of Lake Mungo.

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