Reflecting on my work
The longer I’m engaged in art-making, the more I experience it as a love-dance between myself, as artist, and the living reality of the artwork itself. It seems that, as soon as I make my first mark, the artwork wants to begin revealing its own ideas – it responds to my ideas and feelings and wants to lead me further. So I’m finding that art-making is a duet, a pas de deux, not a solo performance. I’m trying to be more and more open to this unpredictable dance – the result always surprises me when I let myself be led by the process, rather than trying to be in control and forcing an outcome.
For me, the uncertainties of this process tie in with life itself, which can’t be controlled and often seems disturbingly chaotic. So in a number of works in this exhibition, I began with a deliberate openness to chaos, making random marks and waiting to see where that would lead me. In life, I find that beauty, truth, delight and the sacred are not separate from the chaotic – they well up within it! So I’m seeking to discover that mirrored in my art-making. One step at a time! I’m looking forward to going much further in letting go of my ideas and aims so that I can enter into a humbler duet with my artworks.
For the first time, I’m showing some artworks that arise from the serious political realities of my life. The ‘Black lives matter’ movement unlocked a blockage in me about the tragic deaths of many Aboriginal people who were dear to me. There’s so much pain for me, in the experience and memory of those deaths, that for many years there was no way I could address it in art. But suddenly I felt deeply linked to this movement and felt an urgency about making a work to do homage to those who have died so unjustly, and whose lives matter so deeply to their families, friends, communities – and also to the world itself and to the whole universe. Yes, black lives matter.
The environmental crisis of our times – especially the endangered state of Paaka (the Darling River), beside which I live – led me to make ‘The writing on the wall’. Our river matters, our world environment matters, and I must address that in my life with greater urgency and commitment. Maybe I’ll find myself led into a new area of expression – finding images that would be my own love-song for our planet and a wakeup call for myself.
It remains important for me to go out and draw from nature, savouring the moment, the day, the light and colour, the specific character of a place. I think of it as ‘celebrating thisness’. It’s a way of rejoicing in what is, a way of being in communion with both nature and myself. I derive peace and energy from drawing like this, and it gives me joy to share the uniqueness of the outback landscape.
Covid 19 led me further into contemplating the chaos of our times and how to live sanely within it.
A girl skipping in a bizarre, chaotic (perhaps dangerous) environment was a motif I decided to explore lightheartedly, in a series of random prints. ‘In the midst of it all’, she skips with energy and hope.