Through the Mists of Time Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 75.5 cm 2017
As regular readers know, my recent paintings have been influenced by my M. Phil research into contemporary militarised technology. Recent work has featured the figure of the unmanned air vehicle, commonly called the drone, often in juxtaposition with my interpretation of the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life symbol.
This new painting Through the Mists of Time does not feature a drone. Rather, it focuses on humanity - unplugged from all cyber and digital technologies.
A result of my research focusing on contemporary militarised technology is a counter balancing re-focus on questions associated with what it means to be human in the 21st century. That's why the tree-of-life figures so strongly in my work, with or without drones! The tree, as an age-old transcultural/religious symbol 'speaks' of all life and its systems.
In Through the Mists of Time I wanted to place humanity, as represented by the male and female figures, in a cosmic seemingly timeless landscape. The figures seem to 'cast' a tree-of-life shadow, or new root system, at the same time as they project a tree-of-life into the sky - the endless future. A 'stream' of leaves gives the impression of time passing, the white oval shape alludes to renewal and birth, while the small round tree hovers like a fire fly, ready to illuminate, play, guide, tease. Small dots make up various parts of the painting - are they stars, new universes, energy particles, past and future histories?
I am interested in investigating human agency in an age where unseen algorithms influence so much of our lives. I suggest that in an age of increasing automation, and developments in robotics and artificial intelligence, questions about human agency are important.
I was a fare way into completing this painting - and it did take some time - when I decided to re-read some of my Mother's and Grandmother's poems in their joint anthology Out There (1986). Well, one of my Mother's poems 'sang' to my new painting. In fact, I took its title from a line of my Mother's poem. The poem is:
by Elsie Brimblecombe
Published in Out There by D. E Ross [my grandmother] and Elsie Brimblecombe, Elise Publishing, Dalby, 1986.
If I squeeze the golden fruits
Of time, and suck the juice
Till from the leathered skins
The pith and core and rind
The seed beyond the centre
Of that fruit will score
Their mark and drop
Beyond the pearly orchard gates
There is this land crossed by days
And falling within the season's drop
Those fruits will bear
Upon the hour, the stop
And go of earth's frantic measure
But if I could graft the trees
Of time and from that union
Spring a growing season
Rooted in the current flow
I would grow and tree of life
A tree whose branches spread
Beyond our lives and those gone by
A tree which blossomed
Through the mists of time
And set its fruits to ripen
In the thinking of the wise.
Please check out recent and older posts for more on my work figuring the drone, the tree-of-life and cosmic landscapes.