Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Halo Oil on linen 80 x 180 cm 2009

I have finally finished 'Halo', the painting I have mentioned over the last few weeks. My last post gave readers some insight into my inspirations for this painting. These inspirations come from many impulses and readers of my BLOG will recognise my much-loved tree-of-life motif as central to this new painting. The 'tree' becomes the earth and surrounding the earth is a pale circle of light or a halo.
In my last post I wrote about the 25th anniversiary of my cousin, Dr. Bill [aka Fred] From's death on Mt Everest. I have been thinking of him much more since around July last year when I was asked to give the graduation speech at the July graduation ceremony for University of Queensland's Faculties of Arts, and Behavoural and Social Sciences. I chose the theme of perspective for my speech and had hoped to mention Bill , but during my preparations I realised I did not have the right amount of time to contextualise his experiences with my thoughts on perspective. Here is the link to my BLOG post at the time of the graduation ceremony

My thoughts about Bill had been based on wondering what kind of perspective one would get when standing at the top of the world. This perspective, I imagine, would be physical and spatial with distance being the awesome overwhelming experience. But, in this humbling experience would there be a shift in one's own perspective of self and others? Would there be a rethinking of time ie: temporal perspective? I imagine that standing on the top of the world's tallest mountain would be different to being in an airoplane or rocket, because you are still firmly and literally connected to the earth, yet your head is literally in the clouds. I imagine your body would become like a conduit between heaven and earth. But, of course I may be romaticising all of this, because when I think about being cold, wet, hungry for food and air my romantic notions depart with a flurry!

My cousin Bill had just received his Doctorate in Physics from the University of Queensland when he ventured to Mt Everest. His particular area of research was the ionoshphere [please read my previous post for more details and links to info on the ionosphere]. The ionoshere is the outer layer of our atmoshpere which I have painted as a halo in my new painting.

Detail of Halo

When I was an undergrad at UQ I competed a year long subject called 'History of Science' with Professor Mac Hamilton. I have to say this subject was the most stimulating subject I ever studied. It succeeded in untethering my brain from the mundaneness of lock step, sequential learning. It freed me from the learned conformity that primary and secondary schooling cloaks students with, like a blanket that quells a fire. I struggled though because whilst I 'got' it in lectures I had difficulty expressing it in assignments and exams. But, to my next cousin Bill who was completing his PhD sat in on these lectures. As the numbers were not large the lectures were more like conversations. Bill was a star. He engaged the lecturer in the most amazing discussions and I basked in Bill's shadow. And, thank you to Prof Mac Hamilton...I often think of you with gratitude.

The word 'halo' conjures thoughts of goodness, spirit, blessedness and saintliness. If we imagine our atmosphere as a 'halo' then we indeed are very lucky, for this goodness cacoons and protects us. This certainly makes one more determined to look after our atmosphere, yet it may have capacities to rejuvinate and nurture itself. I believe that anything which seems complex must therefore have inate capacities that ensures its continued existence. In paintings of saints by the old masters, halos are a rim, circle or sphere of ligth which is a symbol of love and spirit.

This new painting has taken a long time to paint. I hope viewers take a long time to really look at it...and revisit it. I hope they get a sense of being on the top of the world and that they are enticed to tell their own story.

NOTE ADDED 7-11-10
I was invited to participate in the 2010 $20,000 Tattersall's Landscape Art Award [invitation only]. Halo was my entry.

Halo Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm


moneythoughts said...

First, let me tell you what a beautiful painting this is. I would love to just stand in front of it. How big is it?

Second, your professor that taught that Scientific Thinking course, could be used here in the States, especially in my area of the country. I don't know if you know this, but across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, in Kentucky , there is a Creationist Museum that shows dinosaurs playing with children!!! This is the kind of nonsense we now have in America today. A country that put men on the moon 40 years ago, now has a museum showing that dinosaurs played with children because The Bible doesn't go back millions or billions of years.

Third, read a short piece in the November 2009 ARTnews, UP NOW, about Australian Aboriginal paintings now being exhibited at the Grey Art Gallery. Would love to have a discussion with you about this work and if it has influenced your work at all.

Fourth, I would love to come to your art show in March 2010, and if I win the lottery between now and then, I will be there.

Audubon Ron said...


Now that everyone should have time to review this, I can’t tell what was applied first, the water background and then the tree of life or the other way around. I’m trying to make a determination on your thinking and preparation beforehand.

I must say, this time, I’m not sure I think Halo is right for this painting. I have stared at the painting albeit on a wide laptop screen for about 30 minutes but I tell you, I feel like I’m at the back end of the universe at a place no one has ever been. This painting is not earthly at all for me, nor angelic, which is how I usually connect a halo, otherwise, a halo is basically useless to me, I’m not an angel. I think if I had this painting on my wall I would rename it Aurora.

The reason I ask about the background and which went on first, is partly because it gives this painting so much depth and dimension. Almost as if I’m witnessing luminous bands of solar charged particles above merging into the tapestry of the tree of life.

For me, this one doesn’t have a message. It is warm and inviting and not of this world and I give really high marks for the way you merged all the pieces together. This one has a dash of genius.


Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox said...

Dear Fred,
Thank you for your comments on my new painting.

I am aware of the creationist grip on parts of the US. This phenomena gets some critical attention here in Australia. There is some bemumsement that such conservative attitudes even permeate your politics into the highest levels.

I will have a look at the UP NOW article. I am not influenced by Aboriginal art, but I am influenced by the same landscape, its colours etc. I can understand why indigenous people have such a link with story telling and the land and its elements.

Crossing figers that you win the lotto and me too! It would come in very handy!

Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox said...

HI Ron,

The 'watery' background was applied first. Initially a pale ache colour and then blue over the top which was then splashed with turps. The 'earth' is painted after teh blue dried. Because teh 'tree' branches are so thin the overall effect is like fine lace, so the viewer can see thorugh to the beyond.

Your comment '...luminous bands of solar charged particles above merging into the tapestry of the tree of life.' is quite true I think. And, your suggestion of 'Aurora' as the title is a good one! In fact, when I think about the ionoshere your suggestion of auroroa is very apt. I will ponder this for awhile.

Oh, and I like your comment, 'This one has a dash of genius.' Thank you!