Friday, June 27, 2014


 Forever Landscape Gouache on paper 50 x 57 cm 2014

What do I mean by Forever Landscape? Well lots of things really. Let's see...that landscape exists even without us observing it...or does it? The Universe, and maybe the Multiverse, exists in some kind of endless perpetuity and thus landscape does too. The macro and micro extend beyond our imaginations, with science chasing their tails revealing more horizons as old ones are relinquished. 

Terrain Gouache on paper 50 x 57 cm 2014
Terrain = land, topography, territory, ground, landscape, environment.
My painting Terrain appears to be all of the above descriptors. Yet, I thinks it's funny how the literal meaning of these words can be used metaphorically or analogously.
I recently visited Berlin's Topography of Terrors [Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre]. It is a fascinating, sobering and sombre place to visit. For me the use of the word 'topography,' in the title of the exhibition centre, was an interesting choice. In a way it made the prospect of visiting the centre more intriguing, as if the visitor was to negotiate, navigate, explore whatever was on offer to see. The idea that 'terrors' can be mapped is implied by the word 'topography'...and not simply mapped by geographical places of terror, but by social, political and cultural inputs as well. The title of the centre Topology of Terrors is certainly not as benign or mundane as if it had been called Museum of Terrors.
There's something about invoking a sense of landscape that adds to an experience, whether it be reading an article, visiting an exhibition centre, understanding a political situation and more. For example when someone says 'political landscape' I immediately feel my expectations broaden. When someone describes an environment as a 'cultural environment', my perception and expectation shifts. When someone describes an event or a phenomena as 'unknown territory' it adds a serious weight to what may transpire to be a dilemma. When a person 'holds their ground' in an argument or debate, there's gravitas.
And...all of this brings me to universal landscape! By using the word 'landscape' the Universe becomes more familiar...don't you think? Less daunting, more exciting, a place to explore. That's why I suggest we need to untether ideas of what landscape is, from Earth-bound horizons, to explore unknown territories, new ground, galactic environments...and more...the forever landscape!
My next solo exhibition is called:
2 - 14 September 2014
To see the exhibition webpage please click HERE

Sunday, June 22, 2014


The Horizon Has Disappeared Gouache on paper 46 x 115 cm 2014
The horizon has disappeared...what does this mean? Well, for me, quite a number of things.
  • With new cosmological research known horizons about the Universe have been transcended, yielded, vanquished. So, whilst literal horizons have been pushed to places beyond dreams, what does this mean for other kinds of horizons? What other kinds? Well, let's see...humanity's future and past: the Universe's past and future: humanity's intellectual, emotional and spiritual capabilities and beliefs...and more. It's exciting... and daunting.
  • What does it mean to be human in an age where augmented reality, simulation, artificial intelligence and technology 'provide' so-called enhanced experiences, automated labour, economic benefits and more? The horizons of possibility, once viewed as science fiction, are now not so fantastical. They may have been propelled afar, but they are also often obscured. And, if they are, what else maybe obscured, hazy or blurred? Entering a fog can be frightening. If it lifts there's often a bright sunny day, but if it doesn't...?
  • The horizon of what constitutes threat to individuals, nations and the world has shifted. Terrorism, cyber terrorism, bio terrorism, trans-national crime are all now aided and abetted via technology...yet technology is something we welcome into our everyday lives, often without thinking of its dark side...or even being aware that there is a potential dark side. Squadrons of fighter jets, no matter how hi-tech, will have little impact on an orchestrated cyber attack...don't you think? Traditional modes of defence left their horizons back in the 20th century. New defensive and pre-emptive tactics, I suggest, will be found in scientific research plus new ways of forging relationship and exchange. And, culture and the arts are vey much part of this! [If you do a quick Google on the top threats to world/national security all of the ones I have listed above are mentioned.]
  • I wrote a post awhile ago where I suggested that the driverless car maybe a metaphor for the disappearance of landscape. How? Well, imagine a car being driven by a computer. The occupants are sitting behind darkened windows. They are passing the time with entertainment provided via various kinds of devices, some may even be imbedded in their bodies! Well, there's no need to look out the window is there! No need to orientate oneself, no need to keep a watchful eye on other traffic, road conditions, terrain etc. No need to distract children by pointing out interesting things along the way. In a sense the landscape disappears! As we lose literal sight of and interest in it, plus lose abilities to negotiate our way through it, what happens to horizons? Are they actually diminished? Do they disappear or are they extended? And, what about relationships if all occupants are individually entertained? No conversation, no commentary and probably no fights! My earlier post was called Looking Out The Windows
The Horizon Has Disappeared Gouache on paper 46 x 115 cm 2014
This is an ambiguous landscape. Is the viewer flying above the landscape? Or are they part of it? Is it actually a landscape?
For me 'landscape' is a metaphor for the internal 'landscape' of the human psyche. It is also a metaphor for many other kinds of 'landscape'...Universal, macro, micro, political, spiritual and more.
If you have a pair of simple 3d glasses put them on...the painting separates into various dimensions. Many of my paintings do this! The impression of multiple dimensions, alludes to multiple horizons! It also alludes to the possibility of other horizons beyond sight too. This I like very much. This 3d phenomena is not done deliberately...I have no desire to paint 3d, but I certainly like that it happens.
SEPTEMBER 2 - 14 2014
Graydon Gallery
29 Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Brisbane, Australia, Earth, The Universe!


Saturday, June 14, 2014


 Emergent Gouache on paper 38 x 59 cm 2014

So...I am working towards my next solo exhibition Untethering Landscape...and in the process of painting and writing, new ideas emerge. It's a fun process!

These two works on paper, here in the post, continue my thoughts on untethering landscape from Earth-bound horizons. Emergent [top] shows glimpses of my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life as it seems to emerge from some kind of happening...maybe the Big Bang? Life [and landscape] begins! These small glimpses take on a life of their own, as if they are unique 'scapes' of some kind. Yet, the viewer is aware of an enormity...a vastness...that hosts and embraces. Nothing is really in complete isolation.

The branches of the tree also take on a suggestion of systems, of all kinds, from naturally occurring to the human-made. Literal landscape is, after all, the result of a system, a highly complex one that produces life and matter.

As I have previously written, the symbolic potency of the tree-of-life crosses time, religions and cultures. The fact that it has been a meaningful symbol for humankind for so long makes me think that it holds clues for us 21st century dwellers of time and space too. We just have to explore, investigate...and untether the tree-of-life from historical visual manifestations, to discover new ways of interpreting its potency. Anyway...that's what I try to do!

Emergent Landscape Gouache on paper 52 x 115 cm 2014
Emergent Landscape...well this was fun to paint. Lots of water, paint and then waiting for it to dry before I started the line-work. The landscape seemed to emerge before my eyes. It was like my hand was being lead by something beyond me. I also love the way the watery background has created tree-like shapes, especially on the far right.
So, the painting could be a landscape emerging from a haze or glimpsed through rain or something similar. Yet, that's all a bit banal for me! Rather, it could be symbolic of new ideas about landscape itself. These ideas emerging from the exciting discoveries made by cosmologists. New perspectives of our planet and ourselves are on offer! Surely, these must translate into new concepts of landscape? Well, I think so!
2 - 14 September 2014
Graydon Gallery
29 Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Earth, The UNIVERSE
Check out Untethering Landscape webpage HERE

Sunday, June 08, 2014


Birth Of Landscape Oil on linen 138 x 168 cm 2014

Birth of Landscape continues my attempt to untether landscape from Earth-bound horizons. I am so serious about my quest that I am calling my next solo Untethering Landscape. I have made a separate page for the exhibition which you can view by clicking HERE
My idea for Birth Of Landscape [above] was to somehow capture a sense of landscape being born from the Big Bang. Yes! After all, without the Big Bang there would be no landscape...yet let's think about this...maybe there would be landscape...but without conscious and curious awareness by beings such as ourselves, would landscape 'exist'? There may be other curious and perceptive beings like ourselves 'out there', but whilst it's a tantalising thought, we have not met them yet! So, until such a time, let's explore landscape, let's rethink what it might be, let's expand our horizons beyond Earth into our Universal [and maybe Multiversal] environment.
Why? Scientific research is expanding our knowledge of the Universe, from the quantum to the vast, at an amazing pace. The 21st century is truly the cosmological age...cosmology being the scientific study of the Universe. The fascinating thing is that cosmology is a multidisciplinary field that crosses broad areas of science...and philosophy. Big questions about life, past, present and future are being asked. And...our relationship with our environment is an important part of the investigatory process.
On Thursday night I attended the most wonderful presentation by theoretical physicist and futurist Dr. Michio Kaku. The packed audience loved it too. I went alone...and strangely did not run into anyone I know. Now, this is somewhat unusual in Brisbane, particularly when there is a massive attendance at an event, like there was on Thursday night. It was like....after dark the geeks come out to play! I absolutely loved it.
Dr. Kaku spoke about a range of issues and explorations from artificial intelligence, downloading/mapping our minds, travelling into space via our downloaded minds on lazar beams, abilities to be able to re-insert memories in dementia patients, issues to do with potential insertion of false memories and legal/ethical implications, time travel and so much more.
For me, the overarching question, dilemma, excitement is a need to think about what it means to be human in the 21st century. And...for me...untethering landscape form Earth-bound horizons will help us ponder what it does mean to be human, because by releasing our vision and horizons we see new perspectives, not only of our planet, but also of ourselves.
 Detail Birth of Landscape Oil on linen
I love being a generalist. I love it because it means you can pick up links between things, events, ideas.
Here we go!
Dr. Kaku suggested that the main threat to humanity's growth, and ascension from what he calls level 0 to level 1, will be tribalism, aggression and those elements that cause conflict and war. Interestingly, only days beforehand I had read an article in the Otago Daily Times by Prof Kevin Clements, Director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, NZ. He is a wonderful and inspiring man. I know him...met him first when he worked at the University of Queensland. In his article Safety Possible Without Surveillance Prof Clements says, Our real security lies in the quality of the relationships we have with each other, rather than the security of our nation state. Whilst Prof Clements is writing about New Zealand's involvement in the 'Five Eyes' surveillance/security arrangement, the essence of his argument can be taken globally ie: the real threat to humanity [and the planet considering the range of bio/technological weapons available] is NOT getting on with each other!
Also, if you have time please watch this very recent panel discussion on the topic The Future Of Technology: Benefits and Risks . The event took place at MIT and was the launch of an exciting think tank Future of Life Institute . The panellists were Dr George Church (synthetic biology), Dr  Ting Wu (personal genetics), Dr  Andrew McAfee (second machine age, economic bounty and disparity), Dr Frank Wilczek (near-term AI and autonomous weapons) and Jaan Tallinn (long-term AI and singularity scenarios). One of the many things I took away from listening to the panel was that it's important that we get on with each other!
And, for another related perspective on the issue of what it is to be human in the 21st century, you might like to read An Economist's Guide To War And Peace by Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace . Steve Killelea is an Australian, who sold his IT company before he launched into a life as a full-time advocate for peace. I have heard him speak, and his passion and energy are evident.

So, to the painting above! The background is fire and brimstone...the Big Bang. Superimposed onto this background is a 'landscape' in formation. As you can see the circular object is not complete...the background is evident between the forming 'landscape' elements. This circle could be planet, it could even be Earth, but it could also be symbolic of  smaller or even larger universal entities. The small tree, cradled within the forming 'landscape', it is my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life visualised for the 21st century ie: it has gone cosmic!
*****NEXT EHIBITION - Brisbane - September

Sunday, June 01, 2014


Birth of Worlds Oil on linen 93 x 102 cm
 Birth of Worlds is an open ended title. Why? Because, what kind of worlds are being born? Regular readers will know that I like a little ambiguity. I like it because there's less chance of didacticism and falling prey to fashion or presumption. It means the viewer can take a journey into their own imaginations.
So for me...worlds? These could be the birth of the Universe, even the Multiverse? Or, formation of planets and stars. Or, the birth of things only visible through a microscope...the microscopic world! Now here's a big idea about birth...maybe the painting exemplifies the birth of everything from the quantum to the cosmic? Maybe the dancing branches of the trees-of-life create quivers and quakes that explode in all directions, leaving a world the spawns itself?
Plus, we cannot forget the imaginational, emotional and psychological worlds!
The two trees-of-life represent the age-old transcultural/religious symbol. I like that the tree-of-life is understood across time, cultures and religions as a symbol of life. This is why I use it in my paintings. But, I do not portray it a traditional manner. In my paintings I attempt to release it from historical visual representations, to reveal its potency for 21st century meaningfulness. It is still a symbol of life, but one that reaches beyond Earth-bound horizons to Universal [if not Multiversal] perspectives of life. It is a cosmological tree-of-life!
The light yellow trees, or round sections of trees, could be stars, other Universes, cells, energy, portals...what do you think? I like the way they interrupt, at the same time as promising more.
And, to the theme of my forthcoming exhibition Untethering Landscape.
Birth of Worlds being about...well...worlds...obviously also references landscape! Regular readers will know of my desire to untether concepts of landscape from Earth-bound horizons. I think, in a cosmological age, it is imperative that we do. Myopic vision focused on the known environment, may mean we miss something 'out there'. One thing that has struck me, about the fascinating field of cosmology [the scientific study of the Universe] is that whilst Earth maybe our home, the Universe [and maybe the Multiverse] is our environment.
Modern cosmologists are akin to the explorers of old...the ones that took to the seas discovering new lands with their exotic animals and plants, and their fascinating inhabitants. Artists responded to these newly discoveries through illustration, sublime landscape, imaginative renderings and so on. Regarding my own country of Australia*, think of the early artists who settled/visited the colonies of the 1800s eg: here's a few John Glover, Augustus Earle, Conrad Martens As time went by, and people had more experience of the Australian land, light and heat, artists responded in different ways to the Australian landscape. And, needless to say the indigenous Australian Aboriginal traditions of integrating in so many ways with landscape have influenced how landscape and its rendering is perceived. Aboriginal identity is tightly wound with landscape, in their art and other traditions. I believe, how landscape in rendered and perceived affects all's just that some people realise it more than others.
So, if we are to identify with a cosmological environment, in a way that helps us understand and appreciate it without limitations of fear and ignorance, I propose that we need to rethink concepts of landscape...untether it from Earth-bound horizons...and fly!
So yes...Birth of Worlds is a landscape too! An ambiguous one I know...I like to think of it as an invitation to viewers to explore...imagine being a cosmic explorer!
* Fascinating Fact: In Prague, on my recent visit, I went along to the Clementinum with its Astronomical Tower and amazing  library. We were not allowed to go into the library, but we could stand at the door and gaze into the extraordinary interior. There were about 5-6 old globes positioned down the middle of the room. Each was rather large and exquisitely rendered. But, there was one which I wish I could have seen up much closer. It was a globe that did not have Australia and California was an island. Fascinating insight into humankind's understanding of its environment at the time.

 Me on top of Prague's wonderful Clementinum: Stunning view!
SEPT 2 - 14
Graydon Gallery
29 Merthyr Rd, New Farm, Brisbane, Australia, Earth, The Universe!

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