New Works for the Art Fair:
‘Shadow Self (Winter Currawong and Ringtail Possum)’ 2016-17. Currawong, ringtail possum, bitumen, oil, aquarelle and rabbit skin glue on canvas. 66 x 165 (h) cm.
‘Death Hatch (Spring Port Jackson Shark)’ 2017. Port Jackson shark, bitumen, oil, delek and rabbit skin glue on canvas.
‘Body Map (Spring Stingray)’ 2017. Stingray, bitumen, oil, delek and rabbit skin glue on canvas. 88 x 73 (h) cm.
Last Sunday Darren and I drove to Worrowing in our old ute to pick up the shroud set featuring the turtle, baby Port Jackson shark, stingray and kookaburra. A horse came to check us out and ran away snorting and shaking its head when I shook out the turtle shroud. Must have got a diabolical whiff of it! At home I put them in a vinegar bath before hanging them out to cure for a few weeks. The only body I kept was the cute little baby shark. The rest I placed under a large eucalyptus tree.
In preparation for the Other Art Fair in Sydney I set up a new Winter Shroud set at Worrowing last weekend. Magically as soon as I thought I needed to create more marine shrouds a baby Port Jackson shark, green turtle and stingray magically appeared on the beach where I jog many mornings. Then on the way to the shroud site directed by Tom I saw something on the track and discovered a recently deceased kookaburra!
On Sunday I completed the Rainbow Lorikeet I had created at Worrowing during my residency. The Lorikeet was found deceased by Alicia Talbot during my residency at Bundanon in 2015. Its shroud on paper is still waiting for a watercolour painting. At Worrowing I had a strong desire to paint on a sturdy linen stretcher with rich oil colours. I remembered a friend (my former primary school teacher) Bruce Malbon had requested a colourful bird, so I felt inspired. I began the ‘paint’-staking but enjoyable process of completing two coats of gesso in the negative space between the nest motif consisting of the raw linen glistening with rabbit-skin glue. I also left raw linen sections inside the Lorikeet too, which made the oil painting a little more challenging. I am very happy with the result. 68(w) x 64(h) cm.
Alone (Spring Pigeon) 2011 in Hill End Winter 2016 Crested pigeon, delek, bitumen, oil and rabbit skin glue on canvas
During my PhD I created many ‘shrouds’ using an installation set up on a farm in the Monaro where Tony and his partner the sculptor Steven Holland live. The crested pigeon was found deceased on a road in Canberra and placed on a sprung bed-base to decompose. The eucalypt under which the canvas lay leached its rich brown bark juice on the right hand side while the mesh protecting the body from predators left a rusty imprint. Originally exhibited without further work undertaken as Alone (Spring Pigeon) 2011 in my graduate show, I was suddenly compelled to take the work to Hill End with me in 2016. It was there I added my most common motif, the nest using delek the sacred white ochre from Madjarlngarlkum in Western Arnhem Land. The nest is a cosy home offered to the bird and myself when away from home. I then painted in the post-decomposed body of the pigeon using bitumen and a touch of oils that speak to the bark stain. I lined the bird beaks up like a reflection, a conversation between two forms of representation; one created by the disintegrating subject another the painted signifier. I then located the work in Hill End by painting in an iconic structure found in the town using a very minimal technique in which the main body of the figure consists of the raw canvas ground sized with rabbit skin glue which sparkles under lights and seals the bodily fluids and debris to the surface.
Waking up seeing the colours of dawn from bed and painting. I had soaked a batch of rabbit skin glue and alum to size a bunch of new linen and canvas stretchers, one being the ringtail and magpie shroud created at hill End. I worked on Bherwerre 6 more too and thought of a work to paint for the Flourish theme Ravenswood Art Prize, although I only have two days left to create it, which may be impossible. Darren and I walked down to the dams and swamp on the property and found some clay colours suitable for the ochre expedition on Sunday. I was hoping to also find wattle glue but there were mainly casuarinas, eucalypts and paperbarks.
I moved into Worrowing today. A sun-filled studio apartment on a private estate run by Jenny, Adrian and one of their sons Tom who is also an artist. I focused on painting the 6th Mural. At 5pm I met Jennifer from Bundanon to hand over my artwork donation the diptych ‘Winter Stingray with Jennifer’s Skate (1) & (2)’
I have been invited to exhibit in this group exhibition at the ANU School of Art and Design Gallery June 16th – July 15th. I decided to submit the Marine Relics shroud installation.
See this work in NOW
Summer Woodducks 2015 Hill End Winter 2016 is a work I completed during a Hill End residency in 2016. Using techniques I developed during my PhD at the ANU 2009-2013, Woodducks continues my deconstruction of animal representation through site-based processes and integration of self with deceased animal ‘shrouds’. In Woollamia, I placed two deceased woodducks (gifted to me by Pirate) on canvas affixed to a sprung bed base and covered in mesh. I left the ducks to decompose for 4 months, photographed their decomposed bodies for later reference, collected the canvas and placed it in my matrilineal copper ‘cauldron’ in which I had steeped eucalyptus leaves. The canvas had collected evidence of the swamp site via mould on the surface and the prints of fallen leaves, while the mesh protecting the bodies from predators also left its rusty imprint. The combination of moist dank environment and exposure exceeding one month, resulted in the canvas beginning to also rot in contact with the bodies. After stretching the canvas, the woodduck shroud lived with me until my residency at Bundanon 2015, when I felt ready to begin integration with the spirit of animal and place captured in the work. I began by mending the holes in the surface using thread collected from the frayed edges of the stained canvas. I patched the larger holes using clean canvas to invoke renewal before sealing the surface with rabbit skin glue. I was drawn to the work again during my Hill End Residency in 2016. The cold winter in a 19th century home by the studio potbelly compelled a catharsis that found a path out through laboured painting of the woodduck shroud. Spring blossomed in red as emotions released and manifest.