Friday, May 22, 2009


A few posts ago I said I was starting a large work which I wanted to appear like a wave of colour or a map of colour where boundaries fused. Well...the painting is nearly finished. The image above is me working on some of the last bits! My arm gets very tired!
My idea was to use my tree-of-life motif pouring it over the canvas with a multitude of colours creating from a distance a vision of a wave...yet up close the viewer sees where colours begin and end. I played with the idea of how a map when viewed up close will clearly show where boundaries exist yet when seen from a distance the boundaries are indiscernible. Thus, reminding us that the Earth is one planet with manmade markings meaning nothing when viewed with a distant perspective. As readers of this BLOG know I am very interested in both literal and metaphoric perspective with the latter holding clues to how we might negotiate a globalised world in which we live locally.
I was thinking about the colour which is released from white light hitting a prism. Ultimately all colours emanate from the one source. Humanity and life are like the colours released by a prism...ultimately we are one. We all share the common signs of life ie: breath and pulse. Plus we share the urge for identity which ultimately manifests in the creation of culture and religion, which unfortunately often lead to conflict. Yet, the primal urge for identity is the same.
I believe deep thought about perspective will reveal new pathways for peace on Earth and compassionate negotiation [of oursleves and others] of the distance between the global and local.
I am calling the painting 'One'.

One Oil on linen 90 x 200 cm 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009


I was going through my photos and found a few of interest. The top one was taken in 1965 at the Dalby Kindergarten. I loved painting at kindy...although I don't look that happy in the photo!
The second photo was taken in 1993 in Goondiwindi [4.5 hrs drive west of Brisbane] in my old shearer's quarters studio. The cute little child is my eldest daughter who is now quite grown up. This photo was taken just before I had an exhibition in Maleny. You can see the tree-of-life was a major influence even then. Readers of my BLOG know I still love this motif.
When I had small children I would go straight to my studio to work as soon as they had their morning or afternoon sleeps. I had a baby monitor attached to me so that I knew when they awakened and needed me. Mothers become very adept at discerning 'I want you now!' screams or just playful whimpers or 'Mum I am bored' grizzles!

This photo was taken in 1977 when I won first prize in the senior section of Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Art Award for children. Part of the prize was meeting the Queen at Government House in Brisbane. My whole family travelled to Brisbane for the event and I was taken out of boarding school for two days! The Queen had chosen the theme of the art award. This theme was The Family and my painting is the one slightly obscured by the Queen's head. I painted my family! Unfortunately of the 3 photos taken of me at the event this is the only one of me with Queen Elizabeth...and we can only see her back. This was well before people could take a thousand digital images. I am just over 180 cm tall and the 'teenager me' insisted on wearing high heels. Of course on the day I realised my mistake and I felt like an amazonian standing beside and talking with Her Majesty.
This photo was taken in 1981 when I worked as a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery in Canberra. I am standing beside a Monet Waterlily painting. I got the job in Canberra straight out of university.
Painting and art have been part of my life since forever. Over this time I have come to believe that art's agency [rather than purpose] is to give to those who are keen and open to receive. Art can be reflective and/or affective. As I have said before on my BLOG I believe my paintings are finished not by me but by viewers and the conversations they have either with others or...inside their heads.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The above painting is called 'Forever Connected'. My universal trans-cultural/religious tree-of-life becomes the burning bush in the story of Moses. This story is shared by the three Abrahamaic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Across time people are connected by shared stories, just as the non-consuming fire represents an eternal connection of life to God, the Divine, Creation. Through shared stories we are also eternally connected.

After exhibiting in the Middle East and sharing conversations with people from all over the region I am interested in those things which remind us of similarity rather than difference. I am sure that the distance between people can be negotiated more compassionately through finding similarites rather than just focusing on differences.

The human urge for identity propels us to create different cultures and religions, yet the urge is fundamental and shared. Embracing the fundamental similarities between people means the differences can be rejoiced rather than cloaked with the word ‘tolerance’. To me this word is not a compassionate word. It suggests one has to try very hard to 'tolerate' and it evokes a sense of heirachy ie: the tolerator and the tolerated. I have written about compassion previously on my BLOG

Forever Connected Oil on linen 120 x 80 cm 2008

Saturday, May 09, 2009


I am very excited because I am one of the 30 finalists in the third LAUNCH: Clayton Utz Travelling Scholarship Award which will be announced in early June. The award is co-ordinated by

This means I am now waiting for the outcomes of three awards I have been selected for ie: The Prometheus and the Moreton Bay Art Awards as well.

Now to the image above. The trans-cultural/religious tree-of-life represents space, time and matter, Heaven and Earth. It intrigues me that system-like processes, seen and unseen, felt and not felt can connect the unconscious and conscious, the human and the spiritual. The exploration of these systems suggests the presence of other forces tantalizingly playing with the distance or space between closeness and farness questioning the existence of opposites and antimonies with the suggestion that these connections give rise to variations rather than separate entities or concepts.

So, as we negotiate contemporary life in the spaces between the macro and micro, global and local, vast and intimate we know that our potential exists within the chaos. Optimism is knowing that life's complexity and its chaotic presentation actually create the forces of survival.

To me the seeming chaos is like the flutter of angels' wings creating energy and thus potential. The trans-cultural/religious tree-of-life, its visceral branches, its constant movement in the air epitomises the essence of chaos's promise.

The Brush Of Angels' Wings oil on linen 53 x 97 cm, 2008

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Click on the painting and you will see $ signs! In a previous post 'Currency' I have written about my interest in the uses of this word with regards to money and water.
I have called this painting 'Lifeblood' because water is the Earth's 'blood'. Rivers, oceans, streams, underground aquafers, rain, melting ice are all parts of the visceral and vascular system which assists in keeping our planet and us alive. Yet, water has become a commodity to be bought and sold, borrowed, harvested, allocated and litigated about. There is a monetry value to water and its flow which, if monitored appropriately, will ensure appropriate use of water for all people. However, can we be sure that this will happen? this painting I have created a vein of red $ signs in the sky. From this vein rain falls in two strips. This rain is also painted with $ signs. I have painted the rain in strips because when I lived in western Queensland I was always intrigued by the appearance of rain in the distance. Driving west from Toowoomba to Goondiwindi I often witnessed strips of rain on the far horizon and hoped the rain was falling on Goondiwindi! This kind of hope is deeply felt by country people.
I have also painted the dammed and underground water and the surrounding soil in $ signs. This is commenting on the 'value', use and diminishment of underground water. The depletion of underground aquafers causes salination and thus the loss of soil richness, subsequently causing land degradation and loss of income as well as sustainability.
Whilst this painting comments on water and its 'value' it also contibutes to my interest in perspective. Like many of my recent paintings this painting, when viewed from a distance, does not reveal its details. It looks like some sort of ambiguous but vast landscape. However, up close
the viewer can see the details of the $ signs and starts to question the 'big picture'. In a way the movement back and forth to view the painting [mirroring how an artist works] is a metaphor for contemporary life living locally in an increasingly globalised world.

I have previously uploaded this painting, but since then I have worked on it a bit more.

Lifeblood Oil on linen 90 x 200 cm 2008/09.