Adam helped me set up a large canvas under the studio eucalyptus tree on which I placed 6 mice a currawong and kookaburra. I added fresh eucalyptus leaves and some old ones and bark to encourage leeching of plant dye in evocative forms. At the last minute I added the dried magpie from the autumn shroud to encourage a clean patch of canvas in the shape of a bird. the wings of the fresh currawong and kookaburra were frozen and unstretchable and Adam suggested in future I should make an armature on which to stretch out the wings prior to freezing the body. This idea prompted by aesthetics enters a taxidermy style approach where a corpse is moved into a more live-evoking pose. I find myself uncomfortable with this as artifice enters the otherwise natural death-position of each body. Although it is equivalent to a morticians beautification of a corpse for viewing by loved ones and obviously the penetrations of wire cannot cause pain, it is a psychological discomfort I feel.
I decided to remind myself what it was like to paint in oils again prompted by the colourful feathers of a rainbow lorikeet. I had 3 sets of stretched canvas dyed in Gunbalanya and 3 dried small birds. So I began by sewing them on one canvas and painting a reversed image of the birds in oil on the other. The 3 small diptych’s look as though I have printed the birds due to the reversal enabled by using a projected image as well as the actual body.
They make evocative comparative studies to the shroud image offering different orders of representation to consider.
I am a finalist in the Cliftons Art Prize entering the Winter Kangaroo 2009-11
This work began as an installation at my exhibition Dead Beauty to demonstrate the process behind the creation of the shroud image. Seeing the body of the magpie upset one lady in particular who stated that animal’s spirit was being disrespected. I wished I had the opportunity to speak to her about it as I wondered if the stretching out of his wings had been the most upsetting. When I moved the shroud installation to a new site only suitable for less abominable decompositions, such as birds and small rodents, there was another complaint due to the nearby creche and an inquisitive child. This new site is conveniently outside my studio under a majestic healthy eucalyptus tree who I hope bleeds sap generously and possums and birds defecate from regularly. This is my first shroud at this new site. I love the result and hope to build up a collection of smaller shrouds for those who prefer to see the images unstretched. I prefer the practicality of a stretched work. Maybe I could even push it with some fish and reptiles although large mammals would be out of the question as I am sure there would be louder complaints. I am yet to create a large installation site in the bush for ambitious tarpaulin works.
I found a dead black snake on the way to Booderee and thought of my illustrations for Pauline McLeod about the Little Black Snake who conquers the giant goannas and becomes poisonous by stealing their poison. I placed the partly decomposed snake (nayin) on canvas to continue disintegration. I also placed shrimp leftover from my dad’s fishing trip with my kids. It would be better to stretch the paper first in my sacred waterhole.