While guns rumbled in the distance, we sang, painted, made collages and wrote poems with all our might. We were seeking an art based on fundamentals, to cure the madness of the age, and to find a new order of things that would restore the balance between heaven and hell.
Hans Arp, 1915
A century later, Arp’s sentiment holds true. The Karijini series attempts to find joy - an antidote to the anxiety of our environmental reality.
Within the Pilbara region I feel a sense of wonder, tainted with loss and melancholy. Staggering beauty, memories, learned injustices to the traditional owners of this land and the ecological impacts of mining are all contributing factors.
Colour is my elixir. Through field sketching, painting, paper mache sculpture and collage, I am utilising the power of colour to elicit feeling. Unusual colour combinations add nuanced tension. Artificial yellow and orange tones are seen clashing with nature’s palette – the presence of mining company workers on the land.
My landscape paintings present a deceptive façade of serenity. Dark, shadowy forms and subtle notions of heaviness are implied within thick layers of oil paint and beeswax - an attempt to show depth and reverence towards the land. This is the elusive harmony/tension balance that I seek, alongside tricky ratios of simplicity and complexity.
Small paper mache sculptural works are an exercise in up-cycling. Biomorphic forms derived from the landscape were carved from discarded polystyrene packaging and coated in newsprint and lime wash pigments (in some cases natural earth pigments from the site).
My collages hark back to Matisse’s cut-outs - a process he described as “painting with scissors”. In the Pilbara I saw correlations between the words ‘cut-out’ and ‘open-cut’ and noted the scissor-like mandibles of termites. Termite mounds stand sentinel throughout the Pilbara – like ancient guardians of the landscape.
(for additional text and images see blog) Painter to Painter – A Conversation Between Friends; Whitespace Gallery, Fremantle, WA, December 2019