I had this concept sometime ago, and would love to take it to fruition. In bronze I think. large, big enough for kids to climb over, and robust for the seasons to come. On this Anzac day, in our Australian autumn, when leaves fall - it seems right to return to this concept.
It's funny how putting a series of works together can wear you out a bit. My last series of work which I put together in the online exhibition (which by the way contains only about half of the paintings that were in my head for that season (more to come at some point) had seven paintings, but they are a style of painting that I have to really 'work' and so they are tiring. Some days it flowed fine, other days it was a real battle.
So, I decided post 'white canvas' it was time to have a canvas holiday, and so have been working on these works on paper as part of the $100daysproject which I am loosely participating in. I'm a crappy participant - I keep forgetting days. OOPs. However, I am enjoying this little pieces. They are mostly 20x20cm (which as someone pointed out there are standard frames for, and there are larger A3 pieces and even some smaller A5 pieces. -- also easily frameable).
They are on a variety of papers, some watercolour paper, some wash&draw by Art Spectrum, and some are beautiful japanese Calligraphy papers. Hmmm...
Worked with Black ink (i use a bamboo calligraphy tool), with highflow golden acrylic, art spectrum or rembrandt pastels, golden titanium white, and posca pens...with the occasional water colour or other paint thrown in . Yep. mixed media baby!!
I was thinking about them this morning, and what I am actually painting. And to be honest, at the moment it is almost a garden of my headspace. If my mental space were a garden this is what it would look like. A balance of light and dark, a perspective that focuses on beauty, but is damaged, as most of us are in some way, with a bit of trauma. It's funny how when you start to think about your art you understand what it really starts to get at.
Each of these works will be made available for sale. If you are interested send me a message, and I can list it straight away.
This is the last of the paintings that I had prepared for the group exhibition I was to be a part of over the last two weeks before things went a little pear shaped. Pear shaped happens a bit apparently.
There is still an exhibition going on at Platform72 with some lovely artists involved, so pop in to Atchison street in St.Leonards if you are around and show them some love.
Meanwhile, the paintings that were to be exhibitedfeature on my instagram and blog over the past week, and if you are interested you can read through and learn their stories. Painting stories is something that has been on the edge of my painting periphery for some time, and crystalised for me as something I needed to do as a way of understanding my own connection to the global south, and places that have been impacted by Colonialism. So each of these paintings, of these stories, is somehow born of my experiences and connection.
The Painting above is Chardikala (to the power of 5).
Elephants have meaning in many cultures. For me, the strong associations are with Africa and India, places I have visited, or have friend and family connections to. I always think of the quiet power and strength of these animals, a kind of resilience in the face of humanity, and the wild.
I recently heard of a Sikh expression, which is one about relentless optimism, even in the face of difficult times and adversity and somehow it resonated for me, like a mantra, a way to live our lives. It seemed only natural to use the elephant to tell the story, or explore the message of Chardikala.
This Chardikala painting is of 5 elephants, relentlessly plodding with their large load of rocks, despite the weight. In the midst of the chaos that this year is presenting globally, I feel like we must all be these elephants, we must all be endlessly optimistic, finding joy where we can.
I hope you have enjoyed my online exhibition of this series of paintings. I've certainly had fun, and it has inspired me to do this more often. Each painting will be made available in the Strongsoutherly shop (see link above). The paintings are professionally stretched and either on Canvas or Linen. They are painted with Atelier Interactive and Golden paints, and are varnished with a matt varnish from Golden paints. Each painting is sold ready to hang with drings and wire, however once you get them home and have them up on the wall you may decide you want to take them to the framers, and of course that works too!
Meanwhile, stay tuned for more art and stories...you never know what's next.
Zanzibar is a place that had built up in my own personal mythology since childhood, full of interesting tales and culture, somewhere I desperately wanted to go. Even the word 'Zanzibar' is beautiful. I finally was able to visit for a friends wedding some years ago. I was to be one of her bridesmaids. She picked me up from the airport, a tiny airport, where I had flown in on an even tinier plane. 12 seater maybe? I sat next to the pilot, photographing the land below and wondering where on the island I would be staying. It had been a long haul, with many hours in Dubai Airport, many hours in Addis Abbiba Airport, in the mountains in Ethiopia, before a mad dash through Dar Es Salaam Airport in Tanzania to get on that tiny plane. Somehow, amazingly, my luggage made it the whole way too (something that hasn't always been the case).
Driving along the dusty roads, I found myself in a place that was somewhere both of Africa, and of the Gulf and some other place. I could see the traditional costume of Omani men, with their dish dasha (white dress) and their embroidered hats but I knew this was Africa. There were Maasai warrior guards at the hotel gates, and there women in brightly coloured African dresses. The architecture too, showed diverse influence. There were coats, hauled by tired and not so happy donkeys, men on bicycles carrying a whole truckload of goods in their panniers and on every spare surface, little trucks and plenty of tooting.
Zanzibar was once part of the Portugese Empire, after Vasco de Gama landed in 1948. Before then, and since then the trade through Zanzibar has brought Indian, Persian, Arabic, even Indonesian, Malaysian and Chinese merchants. Each surely bringing there own influence. In the architecture, in the dress, the food, cultural traditions, and even craft traditions.
As we drove to my friends house, we passed a small mosque, right on prayer time, and the call of the Azaan, though differently intoned, with the African accent, was as familiar as it had been in the Arabian Gulf. A marker of the day, that many who have lived in Islamic cultures grow to love, irrespective of their religion (or lack of in my case).
There were chickens scavenging through the rubbish --- there was a lot of rubbish -- and there were kids roaming around. The houses and the back laneways that lead off the main streets where haphazardly located and not always following a clear path.
My friends house was facing the beach, in a row with other houses, all lined up along the shore, with their own night guards and often rented by westerners. In their garden, there was a long pathway leading down to the sand. An old wrought iron gate and a stone wall with railings separated the sand from the garden. And there, at the other side of the gate was a cow! It was staring at me. I was definitely in the right place, this was Zanzibar alright!!
All along the beach there were dhous of all sizes, small fishing dhou's, some with outrigger, and the larger ocean going boats like the trading dhou that still sail all around the indian ocean.
The dhou itself has an incredible history. Just watch Michael Palin'..(Pole to Pole? I think), and you get an inkling. But that's another story (and maybe some paintings??), and we are focussed on Zanzibar right now.
The beach was a hive of activity at different times of day. I got the sense that the 9-5 was not a normal day in Zanzibar, that people kept their own schedules, that were influenced by culture, the weather, the tourist trade and who knows what else.
It makes sense that the ocean and the shore, and the trade in Zanzibar should be a big part of life as it has been for hundreds of years. This age old story of Zanzibar is why Stone Town is World Heritage listed. I am not the only one enamoured with it's story and it's beauty.
I expect that these stories and influences will make their way into my paintings at some stage but for now, I am content to revisit my photos, research about the place, and write.
So, stay tuned for more on Zanzibar...in another blog post down the track. But for now, enjoy some photos.
Pikanini is a Pidgin English word that means Child.
I have been slowly connecting with my own stories over the past few years, coming to understand that this connection to the rich cultures and landscapes of tropical postcolonial places is extremely significant in my life. I have begun to realise that I relate to the world as the white child in amongst colour, just as I was a youngster in Papua New Guinea. I am in amongst it, a part of it and yet apart from it.
This has been true of many places I have lived, even the ones I connect most strongly with. I always try to understand what makes people 'belong' to a place, at what point are they 'from there', and not somewhere else. People always ask me where I am from, and i don't really know what to answer. I wish I could say Norfolk Island, because that is the place I feel strongest about, but the community there would laugh at me.
I think there is a balance between connection to place and a connection to community and culture, that results in belonging, or not belonging. But perhaps how long it takes to form that connection, and for the connection to be reciprocated is the key.
People have this construct of localism, where people can be in a place 20 years, and are still 'newcomers'. Add in a bit of racial difference, and it's harder still. We are all guilty of it. All guilty of assumptions of 'from somewhere else'. It makes it even harder for people to connect to places and to be accepted and treated equally in the community.
I think a sense of displacement and disconnection is something that an increasing amount of people can relate to in a global society, with mobile jobs, and more families living internationally. Children grow up with scattered roots, and with connections to multiple places.
The way people respond to that sense of no connection, or multiple connection is interesting. For many of us it breeds a restlessness and a curiousity, the 'rolling stone' metaphor is often used. I think despite this restlessness though, is definately a yearning to connect or belong to somewhere.
Personally, I wish there was a 'citizen of the world' passport, a UN passport for civilians. I'd sign up, because my roots are scattered, and I feel connection to more than one place in the world.
Day 3 of my little online exhibition. Every day this week I am posting a new painting. This one comes with it's own story.
These two paintings happened accidently, and as they came together the story emerged.
This is the story of an experience I remember from my early childhood. The story goes that as a four year old I was hiding in the shrubbery in the garden, where unbeknownst to me there was a large bull ant nest.
Thanks to my dog, Blondie, named after the singer, I escaped reasonably unharmed I believe.