Lately I have been placing my paintings in spaces. I have always been obsessed with the environmental and atmospheric surrounds in which we exist. Paintings sit on the wall, writing on the page or device, and music in between the walls. As a kid, I would compulsively change my furniture around to create a different room. Crazily enough, I still do something similar in painting and in rearranging rooms. We don’t really change that much from kidhood, do we? There are just more layers now. These layers get contained in new rooms, new paintings, new books. Here are a few examples of imagined spaces.
As you know, my Lake is my temple. Isn’t it obviously sacred?
Often I find myself experiencing or remembering a great book where talking about it means nothing compared to painting it. Yes, that’s right, I try to “paint the book”. This means trying to capture the essence of the narrative of the book, the atmosphere, the landscape. This book “The Discovery of the Unconscious” is one of those great tomes about something hard to get your head around. It’s a book that attempts to explain how psychotherapists developed a working relationship with the deeper levels of the mind. So deep that its existence had to be “discovered”. Definitely worth a read.
Having lived in the city all my life, and having experienced the archetypal cities of the world while travelling, I have found that my favourite creative space is one close to nature. I have even noticed how the work I do out of my city studio is different to that done in the Retreat House. My dream is to one day allow access to my Retreat House (under some kind of arrangement) to emerging artists. There is something in the peace and the sounds of nature especially as the sun sets or as the sun rises, that is great for the creative soul.
I have travelled widely in this world, but I realise that the most amazing and stimulating places are near bodies of water. And there are not too many people around. Lakes are the archetypal sacred zone where memories and thoughts of the future merge into a sense of selfhood. That is why after seeing a lot of the world, I am more and more interested in this country and the Dreamtime. We have the most incredible water zones, and they all have a history with an ancient people whose history recedes into prehistory.
Photographing decaying buildings just before they are demolished is not an easy thing. It’s got to be safe. It’s got to be apparently open. The real question is why. Why is there a whole genre of photography called Urbex (urban exploration) that has produced some of the most haunting images of buildings in decay, all over the world?
There is nothing like being inside an old building slated for demolition. The remnants of the past are most visible and open to display. You are witnessing the last breaths of a once meaningful edifice that no longer meets the utilitarian and capitalistic ethos that permits life in our society. You are present in a space that contains the apocalyptic insignia of abandonment : broken chairs, graffiti, dead files, overgrown greenery. In countries older than ours, real history is to be found in the buildings of the past.
Some abandoned buildings are like time capsules. Well, as close as we get to passing back through time. While the great ruins of the world are pretty darn great (think Angkor Wat), a smaller ruined school can be equally haunting, and perhaps even more so, due to its intimacy with our own recent past.
Painting at night out in the bush studio, these paintings quickly took shape as energies and as atmospheres. The sound of the night, the cool night air, the insects of the night : all of these sensory elements combine to give you a feeling. That is the Night. The atmosphere of the Night. Energies that cannot be easily described.