Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Under the microscope - recent work

In the past 2 weeks considerable time has been spent in the Seed lab at Mt Coot-tha and studio at home. Click to enlarge any image below for a better viewing. The first image is illusive - it is the same seed I have drawn in the quick journal sketch on the right - image 4. Scleria Ciliaris is roughly a third the size of a peppercorn. An experiment with camera pointing down the microscope led to this 1st shot. I was seeing something quite a bit larger than this though, with the shiny white appearance and texture of a golf ball - with stem attached. Quite a challenge for the uninitiated to draw whilst staring down a telescope. What a treat however to see what the naked eye doesn't. Ever since I have been keen to view all kinds of seeds this way...even if not so keen to photograph them in this haphazard way!

Working on the verandah at home on large work for upcoming exhibition next month. In the process of building layers of acrylic and archival inks. excellent afternoon light makes for pleasant working now the summer has passed. Winter is the best time of year for this space... being such a moderate climate.

Still in progress, layers are gradually added and worked over, scraped back till the composition and rhythm of the work gels.

The motif is actually the cross-section of a fruit with seeds shown in 3 variations - this motif has been worked with repeatedly in the ovoid painting below in acrylic paint and archival inks.

Its been a highly productive couple of weeks going between the Botanic Garden Seed Lab, Garden Library, dialogues on seeds, collecting and conservation work, additional related research and concentrated studio time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In the studio this March

Working on the Homage to the Seed journal since February has kept track of a busy time of orientation in the Gardens. Beside all the fantastic discoveries taking place on the grounds of the extensive Botanic Gardens the studio has been a hive of activity and a wonderful coagulation of ideas has been taking place - ideas spanning 2 or more decades of work. I am now in search of the book (packed away downstairs) that set me long ago on a very compelling track that has been resurfacing of late as a result of looking at the seeds, pods and capsules up close and from all angles. I will expand on this from time to time... where possible.

Below: all images can be clicked on to enlarge. This first image, from the journal,  reveals a section of the quandong seed - a very textural, wooden like seed. On the right is the Cunjevoi - Alocasia Brisbanesis - also known as Spoon Lily, at its most striking open stage revealing fruit.

This image above and below is the same work - the first from last year, the second image last week developed as a result of featuring the wonderful form of this string of pearls like bean.

work in progress - assembled together for a sense of how its working - what to focus on and so on. None of the works shown in this post are completed - rather they are likely to evolve quite a bit in some cases. 

Below: 2 square canvases where seeds forms have been layered on over the other - building both texture and surface variation -intimating the infinite life of the seed.

Exploring the cross sections of capsules and pods in this abstracted form links to past work where I was researching symbols form the ancient world that may well have started life from something as simple as a seed capsule. The timeless quality inherent in such forms means a work from the archaic period of ancient greece may look as contemporary as a current image adapted into a symbolic from. This interests me intensely as it is mocks the falsehood of perceiving ancient things as gone, over, of no meaning anymore. I'm reminded of thoughts by Carl Jung on this very subject - scrawled in a journal somewhere. If I find it I will add it here. This image below is not yet finished...I'm liking that it challenges my own preconceptions of imagery that works. Its good to be uncomfortable in this way I find.

The section of a canvas that didn't photograph properly refers to the new direction intimating 
the infinite that seeds so aptly symbolise.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Homage to the Seed: Artist-in-Residence

Recent work from the studio is focused on the residency project for 2010 at Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha. 
First up is a tray of seeds and pods collected of late. My studio and back verandah is rather crowded with collections like these. Lying across the Paul Klee book is the most unusual tip of the fruiting section of an umbrella tree (must check that!) Loved the colour of the orange stalk and the random  placed green seeds (pods).  I've been exploring both plant anatomy and morphology and the black pen drawings in the journal are fruits containing seeds with the structure depicted for various species. I really liked the form of the seed structure in w, x and y and have been employing it for its symbolic capacity in the paintings below. Click on Homage to the Seed to go to that blog to read more on the residency project.

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Blogging for me is an extension of keeping a journal which I have done in various forms over the decades. The difference being this is not a closed book! I like that it offers an opportunity to explore that which concerns me as an artist and as an individual about living and participating in this vastly complex, unquestionably exciting yet unnerving time in human history. Through the blog I hope to increase the possibilties for cross-pollination which I believe can strengthen the sense of being part of something both personal and universal that is vital, expansive and refreshing.