HedgeBurner 2017 oil on linen 180 x 85 cm
There was a long spate of hedge fires in the 80’s and 90’s in Melbourne’s leafy burbs. Not sure if they ever caught those involved.
I remember thinking that they may have grown up working-poor in the shadow of mansions, like the protagonist in Bruce Springsteen’s Mansion on the Hill from the haunting album Nebraska.
People kept saying ‘we better watch you’ like I was a pyromaniac and it made me quite reflective if not completely empathetic about what might motivate people performing this action. Mental illness, anger are the obvious sources but I make art and when you make art you deal with unconscious or wishful states of being and realisation and so on that level I can relate to the need to see something burn for it to be appreciated, enhanced, transformed, beautiful.
Bloodwood 2017 oil on canvas 212 x 168 cm
This one’s not a photograph that’s ready for the website as such, but I wanted you to be able to preview it. This is the largest work and the last painted for ASH. Though I’ve clearly not removed paddle steamers from the system…[I blame
ross rod river virus].. I was feeling the need to have a more crystal clear statement of aftermath…this is what all of these works ultimately lead to.
We are always dealing with aftermaths of one kind or another. Because we are human creatures and we reflect as we go forward we are always immersed in this sense of the weight of what has gone before.
The meticulously primed surface of this large canvas has been with me for some time and I was working towards it for the last two years. It was beautiful after all the reading I’ve done on fire ecology to immerse myself in the world of trees. During the painting of this one work I was reading Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey [which features a giant eucalyptus by a dam] , Eucalyptus by Murray Bail [which though fiction is also encyclopedically about gums] , and finally [still going] I have wrapped myself in the soft bark layers of Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees.
As the inimitable Paul Klee said comparing an Artist to the trunk of a tree, the artist “does nothing other than pass on what comes to [them] from the depths. And the beauty at the crown is not [their] own. [they] are merely the channel.”
RiverSong 2017 oil on linen on timber rondo 59.5 cm diameter
Ok, so the parameters I set myself were to look more closely at the present day with this body of work but when these rondo timber offcuts came my way [in true arte povera style – from a skip] I created the most honest immediate response to them I could.
CrashSite 2016 oil on canvas 83 x 107 cm
This work prefigured a return to drawing for me and seemed to trigger an analysis of the whole september 11 event which was being memorialised at the time. I was recalling how betrayed I felt when the global political response showed no awareness of hubris or any sense of the need to learn, to change, to grow from the devastation..they just met it head-on with more destruction, making more enemies and creating a harsher, more dangerous life on planet earth.
This work is a meld between architectural and aviation ruins. Architecture and aviation are things I return to frequently because, before becoming a painter, I often explored being an architect or a pilot. The skyward visionary quality of these professions attracted me, however it’s becoming clear why I entered into painting instead as it allowed me to be even more questioning and free of gravity. I needed to find an immediate tactile response to the enormous allure of my dream experiences too
Inspired by a black and white photograph of a lost Frida Kahlo painting this work was how I embarked on the ASH journey.. painting my way through the ruins and the hubris of the 21st century
AirCrash 2017 oil on canvas 76 x 61 cm