‘No matter how flattened, ragged, bereft, raw, heartbroken or exhausted you feel, your very presence makes a difference.’
In the practice of Zen, you discover that being truly present is ultimately radical and transforming. The breath and the body are centres of such a vividness of life in this moment. Something happens in the act of accepting the reality of now - whatever it is. An energising force can fill ones veins revealing beauty and clarity in unexpected places. In times of mass upheaval and trauma, remembering this feels more important than ever.
Painting is my practice in action – preparing the panels with layer after layer of wax, then chance-like layering of many coloured washes, followed by a meditation of sitting quietly marking the surface, attending to its entirety. And the surprise of how those layers and moments of time finally come together in this silver threaded tracing of the timeless.
It’s been a strange and deeply unsettling six months, starting with my father’s death in October, then the fires, and now the pandemic situation. Dad’s death shocks such a deep part of me I can still barely touch the surface of it. The paintings for this show have been sustenance thru this time, part therapy, part homage, part sanity, wanting to fully digest, distil and find something beautiful within compounding layers of trauma.
My father was a painter and as a child I used to sleep with the smell of turpentine wafting thru the house knowing he was working away on big canvases late in the night. The three big bushfire paintings in the show are a homage to his glorious landscapes with big rolling skies, as well as my need to cathart and distil the horrifying visions of flames engulfing the places that I love.
The blue shimmering water images are in part an attempt to understand what dying might be like. Trying to imagine letting go of absolutely everything, like the shock of dropping into a deep pool, out of one world, into another. I couldn’t paint the blue paintings until the rains had come and put the fires out, and turned the world green again, the nervous system calming. And now the weird gift of the pandemic, despite the dreadful suffering it is causing, on the flip side the slowing down, unravelling and coming home is a blessing. Time to come to terms with many things while watching the skies clear, the plants and animals flourish, and pollution levels drop as the frenzy of humanity slows to a more peaceful pace.
No such thing as solid ground. This time seems to be testing all our certainties and our belief in limitless abundance. In reality nothing is certain, ever, except change. But the human brain clings to patterns of familiarity, quickly building a new ‘normal’ when the old one fails. I hope we are all changed by this, that the world won’t rush back to what it was. We can’t keep on treating the earth as if there is no tomorrow. I pray that we all come out of this time aligned to a more simple life with time to be kind to each other and care for this beautiful planet.