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Manna Gum and Bogong Moths

Well, here we are in April, my last post was in February and although I had great intentions of posting here in March, it never was to be.

March saw me getting away to a few destinations both old and new. A time to catch up with friends and colleagues after two years of being locked down in my hometown due to the pandemic.

One of the destinations I flew to be was an artist’s retreat in Perisher, NSW. Organised by Sydney artist, Leonie Barton, a group of us spent four days exploring the Kosciusko National Park area with our paint and sketchpads. I dragged along a dear non artist friend of mine who needed some time away and although it was short lived, it was a real treat. I met some new artists face to face which is always so nicer than connecting just in the digital world. I am not a skier, so to go to the Alpine region and see it unveiled from its white winter coat, is much more my thing. To walk down the valley to the trickling stream of the legendary Snowy River on a clear Autumn day was well worth the hill climb back with all my art stuff.

My last big trip away to a new landscape was in 2019 when I travelled to the Northern Territory which inspired me for a good 18 months. Although my local surroundings give me much inspiration there’s nothing quite like exploring a different environment, soaking in the different flora and fauna, colours and textures. Researching its history, mapping out its past.

For now, I’ll leave my written response to this landscape for a later date. There was so much to take in and see and so much to learn about how climate change has impacted within the area, from the death of the Manna Gum to demise of the Bogong Moth. Here I have posted a selection of many photos which I took of the eucalyptus trees that have died on mass. They look like a graveyard of branches scattered across the ranges. As much as this saddens me, it also enables a visual response to thrive in my work and it was a joy to walk amongst them on the Porcupine Trail on a freezing cold, wet day.


It seems that with the recent floods in northern NSW and Southeast QLD and seeing the state of the landscape in Southern NSW has given me so much to think about.

And for the majority of the last 4 weeks, that’s what I’ve been doing instead of studio work as I managed to get Covid whilst away. In addition to this I have some other respiratory nasty that I cannot shake. So, things have been a little slow, my brain has been a little fuzzy.

April has seen me turn another year older, celebrate 21 years of marriage, and my baby turn 18! I feel like this month has just been a blur to be honest.

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dogs, trust and rain

I spoke to a friend who lives interstate today. Someone I have only met once in real life but we have continued to correspond via social media, private messaging and phone calls. Our lives are similar.

It’s one of those conversations where you try and squeeze 6 months of your life into an hour on the phone. Kids, art, dogs books, the guilt of not working, the joy of working,. And of course, current affairs. She kindly shared the writings of Australian author Maggie Mackellar with me. I am yet to read more entries about her day to day life in Tasmania. Birds, laundry, visiting children home from university, creativity. The simplicity of a life. The noticing of small backyard bird life.

It makes me want to read more. It makes me want to continue with my promise to blog more, albeit I don’t see myself as a profound writer.

As I type I have one dog asleep and one dog crying at me to be fed. Right on time, 4.30pm. The sleeper has had a big week with his health. Late last week I noticed that he wasn’t himself, tired and listless for most of the day and night. But it was hot. Its a very humid summer here in Brisbane so who doesn’t want to lay down and sleep. By Sunday I was starting to think it was more and on inspection of his mouth, my daughter commented on how pale his gums and tongue were. A visit to the vet on Monday and within 4 hours he was having surgery to remove his spleen. He has been diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called hemolytic anemia. Long story short, because I still have Sesame crying for her dinner at my side, he is home and resting. Doing well and we will see over the next month or so if he is able to start producing red blood cells.

Sizzles is well loved from far and wide. thank you to all who left their wishes and comments on my instagram feed. Muchly appreciated.

Dogs have always been apart of my life and they are my everyday now.

 

 

Tonight my sister is visiting him, so I am making her dinner. Earlier today I marinated some beef belly slices and am slowly cooking them. I’ll start on the green beans, and eggplant soon. It’s just been N and I for a few days. A has been back studying at uni for 2 weeks now and M has gone to Pottsville with her friends for a few days. This in itself was a one of those letting go moments. When your very responsible daughter asks if she can drive the jetski to NSW all by herself and take it out on the river with the girls….well its a very immediate ‘hell no’ moment.

It’s not that I don’t trust her I just don’t have the same confidence or courage that she does, nor the water skills. And she’s my baby. What if something goes wrong?

Bu there comes a time where you have to say yes. It’s one of the hardest things to do as a parent. Let them go.

I hope that she’ll come back safely,  and that no one will be injured. I hope mostly that she will have pride in herself. To hitch it on the ute, drag it down the highway, manually push it in the garage, and then back it in the river without the help of her dad or brother is something big in my books.

Trust and letting go….there’s plenty to write on this.

But alas, I don’t have much time to harp on.

In summary I’m working on two commissions in a newly painted studio. I chose an olive green for my new door colour. I need to continue to cull as I place things back in there.

All apart of my gap year to slow down and get through my list.

 

I’ve resumed ceramic classes with a 1000 ideas that I need to harness. I’ve been loving the rain, the summer storms make the heat bearable. I often sit and watch the light change. The gum trees catch the afternoon glow just before the black clouds roll in and it pours with rain.

The bottom paddock finally got mowed for the first time since May last year. The grass was close to a meter high in places and the ‘let’s get some goats’ conversation arose again.

Only one carpet snake and one rat spotted fleeing the scene. The Maggies who live here were very happy to catch the rat. It’s been several years since the garden has looked this lush.

But now I need to shower and remove the paint from my hands, and prep dinner for my sister. She better not forget the red wine.

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February Goals… REFLECTIONS

Reflection on my time in Central Australia. See my previous post.

From my time painting the landscape en plein air I came home with a few smaller pieces that I then extended into some works on paper. Mostly ink and water colour on cotton rag, There is so much to take in when you are in this environment.

The shapes and size of the rocks and their shadows. Violet, Sienna, ochre.

The textures and tones of the bark on the limbs of the eucalyptus and mulga trees. The closer you are to them, the more alive they appear.

The feeling of sand under your feet and long grass against your legs. It is a daunting landscape, one that will polarise your emotions.

The morning’s clarity and silence. The heat and noise of the burning day. The calmness and sometimes formidable atmosphere as the night turns black.

 

I feel the need to break it down into a simplistic image that has space in order to highlight the individual elements.

This last image above is only about 1/3 of the painting.

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Studio happenings

Over the last month I have been spending every spare moment in the studio.

I have the sense that this year is going to flyby. Family commitments have been locked in already: trips;  weddings and school demands.  In May I have two exhibitions. One in Brisbane and the other in Adelaide. (what was I thinking) I will have all the details first via my Instagram page and also here on my website.

So in this post I just wanted to share a small amount of the works that are in progress. It looks very much like a dog’s breakfast at the moment, and I feel like I have no room to move at times. Landscapes, particularly trees and even more the eucalyptus trees in my own backyard are the source of my investigations.

This summer has been relentlessly hot and dry. The heat has caused so much stress to the trees, that they have shed their bark so dramatically this year, revealing the most amazing colours and textures. I’m looking forward to cooler days so I can get out and walk more within the landscape.

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Colour Field Exhibition

April and May are always busy times for our household, so I haven’t been producing any new works since the last exhibition I was involved in, The Colour Field. Visit at Art Images Gallery based in Adelaide for all the details.

There is a selection of paintings on paper and canvas and all now framed by the Gallery.

All of the paintings for this show have been produced from recent explorations and travels including Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden in Sydney ; Mt Coot-tha  here in Brisbane and the River at the base of my studio.

 

Paper collaged works such as Honey on Spotted Gum and The River’s Edge are a continuation of my investigations into the Japanese concept known as Mottainai. Repurposing and reimagining older artworks then reassembling them like a handmade quilt. Each panel is unique and not only reflects the colours of the natural environment that they have been inspired from, but also signify the importance of capturing memory and time.

I continue also to investigate surface design and patchwork with paper instead of textiles.