Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A New Direction for the Same Old Thoughts

I’ve started writing this blog post at least half a dozen times only to stall after the first paragraph. I feel this work deserves some explanation but I’m struggling with the words. I have the words but when I spell them out, it sounds like rubbish. I don’t have the words but they’re all contradictory and by describing it, they sound like rubbish. Is it really that important anyway?

Forget the why.

What is it?

The process for each painting is the same. It begins with an abstract colour field and into that space I place a figure referenced from one of my life drawing sessions. Finally, overlaid on that is an extract of a technical drawing from a design project I’ve worked on.

The abstract backgrounds are imagination spaces. They are ill-defined and as a result, full of possibility. They have depth, a background and foreground. They are barren or fertile, structured or nebulous. Anything could happen there. Like an open horizon, they allow the mind to wander.

The figures are us. It’s a human story after all.

The technical drawings reference industry, change, progress, evolution. They are in some ways the antithesis of what it is to be natural but conversely, they are a direct expression of what it is to be human. We invent, we imagine, we resolve, we create. We make things that do things that make things easier and harder all the same time. Most frighteningly, our prolific making and doing and changing has pushed the effects of change beyond any sort of control we might comfortably bring to bear (assuming we ever had any control to begin with). Nature is beyond our control and we are nature, so therefore, we are beyond all control.

I’ve struggled for ideas of how best to describe my thoughts or create a visual narrative to express my feelings. So, I’ve abandoned any effort to do so.  I have assembled the elements. The images invite the divination of a narrative. It’s up to the viewer.

Friday, April 7, 2017

ASHBURN WILSON Official Unveiling

Saturday the 25th March 2017 marked the opening of the recent 3.3 million dollar expansion of the Roma Regional Airport Terminal in Central Queensland and the official unveiling of my bottle tree sculptures ASHBURN WILSON. This pair of 3.0m tall steel sculptures won the 2014 Santos Acquisitive Sculpture Award and after more than two years in fabrication and then storage, finally found their place astride the Airport’s main entrance.

Roma is famous for it’s abundance of Brachyciton rupestris, the Queensland Bottle tree. More than 90 of them line Roma’s Heroes Avenue, planted to commemorate soldiers from the region who lost their lives in the First World War. As 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WW1, I felt it was appropriate to revisit that symbolism, reinterpreting it in rolled steel plate. It was a wonderful design challenge and I am thrilled with the result.

Ashburn and Wilson are the first and last soldiers listed on the Cairn located outside Roma’s Post Office and the sculptures are named for these two. Like book ends, they stand for themselves and everyone in between. Two sentinels to remind us of the sacrifice of many.

Sandra MacDonald, past president of the Roma on Bungil Gallery Management Committee (the group that coordinate the annual prize) suggested the Airport was an appropriate location for ASHBURN WILSON. The original memorial begins at the Railway Station, the primary point of arrival and departure from the town at that time. Now a century on, Roma Airport is one of the busiest in regional Queensland, winning the Qantaslink award for most Outstanding Regional Airport in 2014 and 2016. For many locals and visitors alike, the Airport is their first and last experience of Roma.

Puddy Chandler from the Maranoa Regional Council officiated the opening ceremony and together Andrew Snars (Regional Manager of Santos) and I cut the ribbon. The ceremony was attended by many Local Councilors, Corporate representatives, the Roma on Bungil Gallery Management Committee and interested locals. One of whom offered to take me on a sight seeing tour of the region in his light plane. A definite highlight of a memorable trip.

This is Greg who offered to take me up for a ride in his Cessna 172. We flew North over Pony Hills, west to Injune and finally back to Roma. At around 3500ft we skimmed just below the clouds. The open countryside was green and all the dams were full. We flew over the feed lots, where cattle are fattened before heading to the sale yards, busier now than ever before according to Greg, We saw the gas fields and talked about their impact on the local community including the many benefits. Santos has been mining in this region or over 50 years. May locals are employed by Santos and a great deal of the local economy relies on their presence.

It seemed Santos had a good working relationship with the community here, no doubt a result of interconnectedness forged from long association. But the construction boom of recent years had apparently bought new players, many of whom it seemed didn't enjoy the respect of the community, nor done anything to earn it. Like so many human interactions, the current energy debate is a real hot mess.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Art is Work

I don't always take time off over Christmas, working as I do, a project based designer in industrial and commercial construction. You tend to work when the work is there and fret when it isn't. I can recall many years that I've worked right through the season. Public holidays don't mean so much to the self employed. The answer, I've discovered, is to book your trip regardless of how busy you are and find a way to make it work. Otherwise, some years, the break never comes.

This year we once again visited family in New Zealand, with a little time out to drive around the North Island visiting Rotorua and the Coromandel Peninsula. And once again I bought a fresh sketch book, confident the inevitable downtime of travel would permit plenty of free time for sketching. But in reality, we were having too much fun to bother with pencils and pens. Which reminds me of the maxim, 'Art is Work'  and sometimes, we need to rest.

Depending on which day you catch me, I'm either an Artist who works as a Designer to pay the bills, or a Designer who makes Art to fill the hole in his heart that protests the mediocrity of much of the work I'm engaged with. And some days I try to do both at the same time. At times it's exhausting. But I don't know what to do about that. Full credit to those with the courage (or luck) to kick the day job, because we all know talent isn't the only determinant factor.

So after nearly three weeks in scenic New Zealand, I offer three sketches. That'll have to do.

Monday, December 26, 2016

More Stacked Slabs

Thrilled by the way THE MONITOR turned out, I'm keen to pursue more cast concrete sculpture produced in similar fashion. Unlike the THE MONITOR however, I have decided to include a more easily recognisable figurative element in this work.

While the moulds for these stacked slabs will once again be made from waste packaging, one side of the finished sculpture will form a faithfully reproduced human face; the same theme, a human form described by the castoffs of consumption, expressed uniquely.

As a first step, I have reproduced the computer model in clay by hand, scaled appropriately to match the dimensions described in the digital maquette.

From this, I have cast a series of 5cm (2 inch) plaster moulds, each to be used separately for casting the individual concrete slabs. At least I will finish casting them once I purchase some more plaster. I ran out two sections before reaching the top and it's Christmas so all the shops are shut!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

111 George St

My recent sculpture THE MONITOR has just this week been installed in the foyer of 111 George St, one of Architect Robin Gibson’s iconic Brisbane buildings. The sculpture, standing 2.0m high is constructed of unfinished “black” steel and cast concrete slabs, common materials in the construction of the contemporary urban landscape. Each slab is cast using a mould made of waste polystyrene packaging, and so, the negative space once occupied by appliances, electronics and gadgets realigns itself to describe a human form. We are what we consume.

These devices improve our lives; enhance our ability to communicate and interact with each other; give us access to vast repositories of information; make life easier; increase leisure. Conversely, there is a sense that our reliance on technology somehow diminishes our humanity and the ever-increasing rate of technological development only further exacerbates the schism. THE MONITOR, cast from the packaging of computer hardware, patiently observes the change.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ashburn Wilson Update 2016

After a year long wait, ASHBURN WILSON have finally been installed at the entrance to the Roma Regional Airport. Thanks you so Much Sandy MacDonald for the photos. Currently planning a trip that will see me out west some time around the turn of 2017/18.