I returned to the Flinders Ranges after several years absence. The main aim was to explore the Ediacara fossils at Nilpena Station excavated by Dr Mary Drosser and open to the public at given times of year. Her colleagues and she work mid-year to coincide with Northern hemisphere summer holidays and our cooler months.
The fossils, evidence of first animal life are approx. 500-600 million yo. and situated in rocks once silt that were part of the sea floor.
Small mouthless animal absorbed nutrients from a microbial sponge on the seabed then after successive storms were encased in layers of silt like a mould. Consequently the fossils were found under side of a rock layer that prized apart could be turned upward and placed side by side revealing their habitat.
Our tour guide showed us the largest piece excavated of the ancient sea floor.
And material removed from the excavation.
In the short time that we were there I scrambled to take rubbings or frottages that I insert into my artwork in my studio. So convenient here to see clearly as those in Brachina Gorge are more difficult due to geology where strata formed rocks are tilted vertically at right angles. Although a friend found a fossil in Parachilna Gorge washed down into the river-bed. A lucky find.
Return to Drawing
After several years of printmaking then painting I changed course unexpectedly and picked up dry media and applied it to printmaking paper.
My half-done large paintings and then a series of small head in landscape images demanded a more thorough exploration about how I could develop and create iconography where my ‘landscapes’ /memoryscapes showed more succinctly a connection between mind, geology, geography and biology. How we inscribe ourselves on to landscape and landmarks and how in turn they change how we see ourselves. I sometimes feel as though searching for special places for example fossils in the Flinders Ranges, I am ‘shaped’ by aspects of the land and passage of time.
Anyway these three studies began unexpectedly as I pondered the feeling and memory of homesickness and the longing for colour, form and texture in particular places. When I lived in Western Queensland driving for kilometres through brigalow forest and experienced the flat endlessly stretching landscape and blue dome overhead I longed of orange, purple and grey tones of cliffs on the Great Ocean Road. So in Studies 1,2 and 3 for a Coastal Memory I have exaggerated the intensity of orange and made gestural marks that simplify form as a way to express a sense of loss.
I drew with compressed charcoal pencil as well as pen and ink and pastels over photographs of incomplete large oils that I had digitally printed onto printmaking paper.
This method provides me with a starting point where I turn the old incomplete images upside down or sideways into which elicits old memories. Then I build up another image that vaguely alludes to a place by drawing with pen and pastel more facets and traces of its erosion on one hand and monumentality on the other.
www.facebook.com/100003722859860/posts/1621185508015529 Three small works on BFK Rives. Exploring relationship between mind and Earth.
Three small oils on canvas about emotional experiences that I felt within this location in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. I try to capture a moment in time when I get a feeling as though I dissolve into a particular place like a mountainside or some other landform.
One opaque eye glass reflects the landform the other eye sees beyond into the future while the ear image refers to the past history of place and deep time seen within geological layering of overlaying strata.
On another level I am reminded of memento mori paintings such as those where a person contemplating a skull is pondering life’s brevity. In a similar vein I juxtapose an intense moment in time against and within that of a space that is a deep time calendar.
Early Stages of this mixed media image based on an area of northern Victoria, Australia where dried surface of salt lake shimmer across the landscape.
I was trying to represent the experience and feelings that may effect a person as they internalise the visual impact as it becomes a visceral bodily experience.
Middle Stages look a bit over worked as I wanted a more portrait – like depiction but the changed my mind.
The background didn’t quite work – did I want the image and background to be separate or integrate into the landscape and become the landscape?
Lost the plot with colour because I sanded back this desert colour and overpainted it with yellow. Once dry, I went back to another version of original palette, kept a small amount of yellow and melded the shape of the face with an oval lake – shape, then applied a light pink not too pretty but then overpainted this with same base with burnt umber to mage the pink earthy in appearance.
In this large oil painting my imagery is about a human intimate connection with nature rather than seeing nature and as an example of the sublime.
I incorporated a frottage taken from part of the gorge into the composition. The solitary eye depicted beside the frottage, done with graphite on rice paper refers to a tradition in the late 18th century before the invention of photography where lovers exchanged an image of one of their eyes painted as if part of a jewellery on a type of brooch.
A rectangular shape could be a doorway and on the right is a fossil shape that refers to those found in that area that are 500 million years old examples of first animal life.
I’m sure that as stages develop the composition will need simplification.