Variations on a theme

BIRDS SMALL

The transformation comes and goes, sometimes gradually, sometimes at more regular intervals, like the sun falling on wing tips and then it is all consuming. Those beams of light exposing uncertainty, blue fading to leave the shape of a new painting, gleaming, full of promise but not yet real, just an idea. Outlined against the sky, brilliant like metal but in equal part, already a failure. Work consumes me – my day job takes almost as much as I can give. Then with the promise of a shiny playground, I flounder and stall. The new remains unformed, just a list on a page, and my lack of courage or energy to start the new series torments me. I replace uncertainty by diving for pearls, those last illusive images that resonate with an accumulated honesty.

Behind the wire

Behind the wire

 Pictures can become like a dialogue that has been over rehearsed. The transition from subject to subject then becomes a device to avoid endless repetition. Knowing the right time to change direction is an art within the art. Whose eye is upon you? Whose attention do you seek? It’s the same old argument – paint for your self, or paint for others? The madness is still strong 27 years on and the ever watchful bird hovers expecting change, demanding success, something that can be measured. Then everything before is relegated, no longer living for me, yet still raw and painful. Angst is like over salting the cook pot, too much will spoil the sincerity. I guess I’m looking for that one image that sums up the whole body of work. A picture that once achieved makes the necessity to continue the subject redundant. Unless I could sell the stuff in which case I would be motivated by commercial concerns, I suppose.

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Children In Detention

DSC_8046

The United Nations guidelines on the detention of asylum seekers make it clear that children, protected by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, should not be placed in detention for any length of time. The experience of detention may mimic the experience of human rights abuses, persecution and terror. Detention is highly traumatising for children who are less able to understand explanations as to the reason they have been detained.

Recent picture, part stencil part drawing

Recent picture, part stencil part drawing

Asylum?

"Family"

“Family”

“I chose Australia because I thought it was a country that cares about human rights” 

Seeking Asylum Through Art

"Journey's" 2014 each 84 x 64 cm Gouache, ink and enamel on paper

“Journey’s” 2014 each 84 x 64 cm Gouache, ink and enamel on paper

  Night after night, absorbing the news, one politician proclaiming indignation over the oppositions antics, watching the latest “move to the right” over asylum seeker policy, and feeling exasperated that my sense of social justice is again being offended by the elected governments rhetoric and fervent desire to punish people arriving by boat in the name of boarder security. I don’t want to be someone remonstrating on the couch. I don’t know what it is like to be a refugee. I’ve never had to flee for my life, to leave my homeland and all that I hold dear. I can read stories, and I can reflect on the divergent arguments that pervade our media. What good is art in the face of such human suffering? I quote here from a passionate defence mounted by my wife Catherine Jean-Krista in the face of such criticism –

 “That sublime, profound transcendental thing…. or that great, satirical, biting and devastatingly insightful portrayal….. or that beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, emotion-inducing or soothing vision…. or that all encompassing installation style experience which places you in another’s shoes…. that culturally resonant, tradition-invoking form…. or that empathic link created through the sudden illumination of another perspective…. that temporal and ephemeral created moment…. or that eternally resonant phrase… or that medium that communicates across language barriers…. Art.”

 

Boat People…

“Boat People” 2013 Spray Enamel and Gouache on paper 46 x 60 cm

An image from my Boat People series which has been selected as a finalist in this years Cliftons Art Prize for the Canberra region. These pictures are derived from images and attitudes in the Australian media on the topic of Boat People. I am interested in the general public discourse surrounding the treatment and processing of asylum seekers and seek to elucidate a deeper appreciation for the sacrifice, hope and misery of the refugee. I work with a variety of traditional mediums, ranging from acrylic, oil and gouache to stencils and pasted-up street art.