Tiny Forests

Honey It's Been a While!

As a bird leaves its perch to drop down to a landing bellow, there is a split second in which it allows itself to fall. A small hop into space, wings by its side, fat body drops. I know this because I like to watch the magpies make their way from the telegraph lines onto the lawn, and this is how it's done. They like our garden probably because of the veggie patch which my housemate tends to. They fan their wings and effortlessly land in the grass for a good old scavenge. Flying for a bird, I imagine, might be a little like walking for us – an entirely natural process. When a magpie drops like that from a height, it knows what it is doing with certainty beyond knowing. But it's so comical to watch. And so beautiful. Right now in the garden it is warm, I am reading my sweet, sugary letters, and fat little bodies are dropping and plopping. Things are fitting and I am finding the nooks and crannies of my house again. I am so glad for my jobs – I am so glad for my garage studio – so glad to know a real love(s).

Ghost Forests and Indoor Mists

At the moment I am working on two projects:

The first is about the introduced forests of Canberra – an examination of the types of plantations here, an acknowledgement of their 'foreignness'. Scattered across the grey Canberra bush are streaks of dark green groves, spirits of foreign experience transplanted into Australian soil. They are spaces of imagination. The walker is briefly immersed in the presence of a surrounding forest, only to emerge again into the reality of the Canberran bush. For a long time I have been aware of how these spaces are an integral part to my own personal sense of home. I love the Old English Gardens, I love the Redwood Grove, I love the pines that were burned in 2003. And yet these places I see as so inherently Canberran have supplanted the forests, stories, histories that came before. There is a tension, a sometimes violent resonance, between the forest and bush. Why do we supplant aboriginal histories only to evoke cultures and memories we have never been a part of? On a personal level, I hope this work can resolve some of these questions.

forests path forest path

The second is an installation project I'll be working on as part of a residency in Beijing. This piece is a response to Mist as it is used in Chinese Nature Painting. It is about the insertion of intangible natural forms, built with tangible materials, brought into the constructed environment of the city and gallery. A fog that has rolled in from the mountains into the gallery space. I like the idea of Mist in Nature Painting as a tool to illustrate a spiritual understanding of the natural world as both seen and unseen. And it is particularly interesting to see growing popularity of Nature Painting in China at a time when more people than ever have left the these spaces for the polluted metropolis. Smog has replaced mist in Beijing. But if you were to pretend that smog was mist couldn't you have the same spiritual experiences? And wouldn't those experiences be just as valid?

french knit

I'll be going to Beijing in December and I'll post updates here. Ghost Forests won't be on until April next year but I like starting early.

Model Citizens and the Importance of Exhibiting

Where to begin after a painting stasis? My friend Helani recently put together a zine - funny and sad in parts. "Stuck for an idea". That really rang true!

I have been concentrating on two activities in the past month. Painting and packing, which don't really go hand in hand. Packing is melancholic and comforting but I like my studio (my bedroom) to be properly organized. Not clean, but tidy, everything should sit comfortably in its place. Now, though,  there are boxes everywhere. To begin work in this environment is overwhelming, but it is so good to be painting again. I have been making work here and there for this show and that, but I realised the other day that I haven't actually painted since Nooks and Crannies. I have missed it. And I am rediscovering that feeling of being lost on a blank canvas. Every time you begin a new painting you re-learn how to paint. The act of painting is not simply an execution of learned skills, it's a dynamic and ongoing response to the subject and materials. You fight, resolve problems, enjoy the moments when the material seems to work on its own, you penetrate the object as it penetrates you. It is deeply personal, it is hurtful, it is ecstasy.

In other words it has been nice to remember this process. It has also reminded me of the process - the event - of the gallery. I am glad whenever I can show. Over coffee a friend of mine told me she didn't want to take part in shmoozing, the self aggrandising  that is so much a part of exhibiting, and so apart from anything meaningful or artful. This is an inevitable part of exhibiting. But to exhibit is also part of the process of art making. The event doesn't cease when the production of work stops but continues into the gallery space - a space for viewing and experiencing. This interaction is not between the artist and the work, it's between the viewer and the work. I have experienced real clarity when viewing exhibited work. Like Suzanne Moss' paintings, which shimmer and shift optically and spatially - it's important that they be seen, it is vital, a part of the process. That experience travels with me now, just as the mountains and the mists of Canberra do.

This work was for a show called Model Citizens. It is a lot of fun making again, and showing. Ahh, the shenanigans. I will be starting an ongoing project soon, and I'll use this space to tease out thoughts and ideas. Shortly I will be leaving crossroadz and leaving Australia to spend some time in Hong Kong! There will be a blog about all the comings and goings which will be set up soon. I will link to it when it is ready.

The winding little rivers of Hong Kong.