Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


New Commission

This commission happened due to an art lover viewing on line one of my small studies in pastel and charcoal drawn over a digital print taken from one of my larger paintings. The study on paper sizing up often demands some compositional arrangement and more tonal subtlety. Translating a small pastel into oil paint always interesting.

So today I begin.


Commission-Homage to Joan Miro (fourth stage)

This stage has been the most frustrating so far as I considered the lower part of the background that depicted or suggested aspects of a beach scene to look too brown. After a day or so pondering and hoping that i would change my mind and like the brown I sought advice from a discerning advisor. We both gave it the thumbs down.

So a careful sanding and application of a veil of transparent white over the brown would fix the problem and allow for a more transparent and slightly more pink/orange overpainting.

 

 

 

 

 

I retained the yellow sunlit sky but carefully scumbled and then softly rubbed on the veil resulting in a bleached area that still allowed for the shape, line and lettering beneath to show through.

The glaze mixture consisted of Pilbara red and golden-yellow both transparent/semi transparent but with any Burnt sienna this time leaving a more orange transparency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once dry overpainting of figurative and text elements could begin. Lettering was my main concern so I employed as a careful rendition is not my forte. While there are strong linear elements in my compositions I mostly use oil painting sticks which leave a broken line or hatching combined with overpainting or sometimes compressed charcoal integrated into textural areas. Other line techniques include loaded round brush stroke or sometimes just squeezing out paint straight from the tube or making a line from a trowel edge. Or printed lines or string lines lifted from the paint surface or lines painted with the aid of masking tape, anything but hand drawn exact lines that cannot smudge as this painting requires the glaze surface to have as little disruption as possible. Luckily a skilled friend was at hand and  partly sketched in the text “Fairh’ (short for Fairhaven) and drew in some lines that indicated the figure.

I’ve been careful letting it dry before the easier lines and pictorial aspects can be blocked in before further layers strengthen the shapes and images.


Lake Mungo Skies

The underpainting,  developed months ago, was vertically formatted for an intended interior self-portrait before I changed my mind and placed it in horizontal landscape format in fitting with ‘lake mungo paintings’ now that finally I felt submerged in the subject.

In this image I recall my first visit to Lake Mungo National Park in the late 1980s when a group of fellow travellers and I  could only get time off in December. Undeterred we ventured forth into the heat, dust and flies. The trip although adventurous was also disappointing due to the forty plus degree heat which dictated we explore the lunettes late in the day. Little work, frustration and discomfort sent us heading for the Darling River and Lake Menindee which at that time was full.

In this image I tried to record memories of these feelings and how later in my studio I reflected on how experiencing that environment and its forms influenced the way in which I constructed the imagery. Anatomical shapes, landscape and atmospheric shapes merge into each other.

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Lake Mungo Landscape (work in progress)

At a half way stage through another Mungo scape difficulties often arise. Before this stage I often feel that I have the composition under control with the first few layers of thin lean paint consistency shapes texture, line, colour and forms coalesce into a flash memory of the particular place. Random shapes that settle after poured, spattered and bleeding paint often suggest other avenues. At this juncture another mental image appears and interrupts the original flash memory. By letting the composition evolve and not trying to control it by wanting to recapture a former memory, some other aspect often reveals itself. I have to wait, then pounce and hope that I will like it.

 


Lake Mungo Experience

In this continuation of the Mungo Experience I tried to merge the idea of history represented by the ear and converge it in the artist’s mind with the atmosphere of this place represented by the sun.

 

 

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Previous stages of Watching by a Mungo Dune, 2016

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Self Portrait ( “Paint and Elements” ) at Mungo

A return to an old friend, again! and again!! This is one of those paintings that seems to go on forever especially when I tell myself that I have captured the essence of the image, the statement and having done all that, it should and usually does fall into place. Not this time, so I am observing my mind, the mental process where I seem to be chasing something that eludes me. The other alternatives are taking to it with an axe or putting it away for yet another time.

The painting is a bit like a memoir where I am trying to depict the experience of a haunting but hostile landscape. I wanted to paint the experience of being in it not on it as a detached observer- melting in the heat, drowning in dust and sand as well as avoiding swarms of thirsty bees but at the same time watching as animals crept up to out camp looking for water.

Anyway I reached for tubes of colour and sloshed them onto the background, grabbed an oil painting stick and covered up the fiddly bits that had started to annoy me and felt much better. I wanted the paint to work it out for me. However after that small flurry of excitement it was time to stand back and consider the newish look and let it settle in my mind for a while……….

 

 


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Exploration at Lake Mungo

Background

This painting has been through the wringer and almost landed in the bin.

Originating as an etching, gessoed, painted in a grey mixing raw umber, cobalt and white with a touch of naples yellow the image, I imagined it as an interior containing references to the painting process, vision and reflection. Then I sanded it back, employed  new colours because images from Lake Mungo kept drifting up and pulling me in a different direction.

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The first version, as an interior in soft grey-green, referred to poetics around vision that morphed into a landscape/mindscape about the light at Mungo and sunset. Still in vertical portrait format I reestablished the face and it then became about how we position ourselves within the landscape on many different levels.

One level was about trying to integrate European oil painting conventions into the Australian landscape-a popular theme by many artists. On another level, my question was about the relationship of humanity to the environment and whether or not we see ourselves as dominating it or working with it? Then there was the way in which the representation of women and nature have been depicted by the dominant culture as possessions onto which all sorts of objectification has occurred.

I’ve tried to find a way to express being in the landscape. The exaggerated depiction of ear refers symbolically to history.

I like to combine figuration, ( plastic and volume) with elements of abstraction.


Mungo Hairdo

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This painting began as a depiction of a wind swept poet with letters and words transported in the wind and then onto her forehead. It didn’t work, cast aside and changed the idea to inspiration by starlight which also didn’t work and looked a bit stilted. Weeks passed. In frustration I poured 2 paint layer together and left them in the sun to dry and forgot about for the rest of the day. One greyish layer thinned with turps and a little oil flowed on top of an opaque creamy oilier layer.  Instead of the whole surface being totally changed the paint had ideas of its own.

The poet with the Afro hairstyle morphed into poet with Mungo hairstyle, incorporated into a windswept tree shape that seemed appropriate after the battering we received in a sandstorm.

I like the rawness and immediacy of the paint strokes in the earlier versions and feel that at this stage I may have fiddled too much even though I liked the unexpected imagery caused by paint tensions.

Sunset and Oil Paint, 2015


Artist at Lake Mungo

I’ve found it quite a challenge to capture the way that the last citron flash of light at sunset in the desert can be a metaphor for aspects of painting about painting. It correlates to the flash of inspiration as it transitions into paint placed onto a two dimensional surface. The eye of inspiration closes or is obscured as the other eye opens to the process.

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“Selfies” in oil paint

The genre of self portraiture, once limited to artists (or photographers when they shot a mirror-image), has been democratised with the invention of the cell phone and almost become the mainstream genre at present.

This  artistic genre could be described as one where viewer and artist share the same gaze. The viewer sharing the gaze can look into the artist’s soul and mind on one hand, or in some other examples of traditional art share the way that an artist of the Baroque for instance gave a self portrait to a prospective client to be ‘read’ like a CV where skill was displayed in the painting  of flesh and different fabrics as well as metal and other surfaces.

 

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Self-Portrait in Action. 2014IMG_2259Oil paint was the ideal  medium in which to render beautiful surfaces but now in the 21st century what does it offer the viewer and artist in this genre with its characteristic flat surface in comparison to performances or conceptual art projects about identity? Do the reasons for it existence still seem relevant?

What keeps me interested is that I can allude to past symbolism as well as explore psychological experiences, vulnerabilities and memories.  The qualities of transparency, semi-opacity and opacity within the medium help me to depict these transitions. By breaking up the form of the head with different objects that allude to the processes of sight and painting action I can denote moments when the artist in a sense “plunges into darkness” ( Derrida) that mentally exists  between observation of the image and paint application. In this small study I began with a drawn line and then moved into paint areas, transparent glazes and then back to the element of line. In one way the act of painting becomes a “selfie” and not my appearance.

 


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Art about Heads in the Landscape (Brachina Gorge)

Titled Maria Located the Golden Spike, 2013, 54x72 cm, oil on gessoed paper

Maria Located the Golden Spike, 2013

Detail from oil painting titled Maria Located the Golden Spike, 2013

Detail from oil painting titled Maria Located the Golden Spike, 2013

When I place a head in the landscape-type of background I try to depict a momentary thought as it appears to cross the subject’s face. This process is about how I think and understand the way that time, the ages and history are recorded in rocks. For me gorge formations are like reading and imagining a story about the earth’s history.

The Golden Spike mentioned in the artwork titles is a particular rock formation dated about 500 million years old located in Brachina gorge in the Flinders Ranges. This locale is also home to fossils that are examples of the first animal life. 

The head-images, abstracted and partially exaggerated anatomy meld with parts of the landscape as though the skull and earth’s crust both hold beneath them the forces of creativity and nature. The abstracted shapes that seem to happen come from an imagined element of the thinking process.


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Seascape commission part 1

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Seascape Commission, Point Roadknight

This painting has been a challenge and I have lingered in the final stage of part 1 around drawing together elements of the composition into a coherent visual language. When I focussed on specific breaches in the land form where erosion cut across the rocky promontory I imagined the future destruction of this interesting and intriguing place. With that feeling in mind I could articulate different levels of meaning and tension between the geology on one hand and the erosion that reveals its interesting features on the other.

The wet poured paint washes will require several days to dry before application of impasto strokes. Two washes of mid and light blue bled together then another indigo wash was poured over them in an area that counter balanced the larger indigo passage in the bottom right hand section. A few awkward passages of paint require more attention.

The composition has more energy and tension between light and dark passages and heightened colour but is a bit busy.

I feel that more subtle tonal variation is required on the ‘colonnade’ on the right hand area which at this stage is a flat indigo shape.

The ‘colonnade’ overpowered the composition so I thought a change in tonal value and colour where the dark indigo right hand side became lighter and the lighter left hand darker and more indigo in colour would draw together elements in the composition. The breach in the land form by the ocean seemed to divide both sides of the composition rather than be the focal point.

At this stage the painting at the end of part 1 is a little too literal and any abstracted visual elements that refer to the artist’s gaze and future imaginings lost.

In part 2 these improvements will be part of the continuing journey.

Seascape final stage of oil paint companion to Point Roadknight commission


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Seascape, stages in a painting’s development

The slide show reveals how this painting came together in many stages. It was a companion to a commission so it is at present untitled, however the subject matter is the erosion of an interesting land form on the Great Ocean Road called Point Roadknight. Although the coastline is a fragile one and weathering is part of the natural cycle I always feel upset when I notice yet another rocky feature lost to the ocean. In the painting I depict breaches in the rock where tide floods across the rock platform. I exaggerated tidal flow as I imagined a future breach at an already eroded section of the point where the next cascade of ocean on the south side will eventually pour over the rock into the bay.

The early stage consisted of  under-painting with ink and gesso in which frottage taken from the rock surface was glued into position.

Elements of composition, colour and tone came next in a loose configuration unified by strong lines drawn with an oil paint stick.

Once the shapes were blocked in, tone and colour in desired range of intensity established I stared pouring paint in a way that alluded to flowing water.

The white foam and shadow created a contrast that appeared to overwhelm the composition and made it too fussy so I put in some greys and poured light over dark in a diagonal direction.

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Advancing Tide at Sunrise


Seascape oil painting commission continued

Final Stages

Seascape oil painting commission now in the final stages continued as I poured another semi-transparent glaze over indigo. The idea was to give the blue water an illusion of depth. The indigo colour has been part of the under-painting as well as over-painting that consisted of the definition of columnar rock-shapes visible in the detail image and shadows to be further developed in the next stage.

Seascape oil painting commission continued, final stages based on Point Roadknight

Seascape, oil Painting commission continued, final stages based on Point Roadknight

Oil painting commission continued, detail, final stages based on Point roadknight

Seascape oil painting commission continued, detail, final stages based on Point Roadknight

At the same time I introduced visual elements into the composition that related to vision, that is, the artist’s gaze was also implicated in what was seen and how the subject was organised in space.

The suggestion of divisions like those in a triptych was my way to explain how erosion over millennia  has left standing portals or sentinels of the hardest rocks that appear to divide this land-form into three broad shapes punctuated by distinct gaps.

This winter erosion further under-cut large rocks with one in particular falling on its side and others broken, snapping off like teeth. I often feel sad at the loss of these unusual pillar-like shapes that looked so permanent.

Rock erosion, broken columns at Point Roadknight

Rock erosion, broken columns at Point Roadknight

Final Stages of untitled companion painting

Seascape oil painting, untitled companion, final stage, based on Point Roadknight

Seascape, oil painting untitled companion, final stage, based on Point Roadknight

The companion painting required more depth in the foreground layers. A thin glaze under the opaque over-painting looked too thin and a bit scrappy. The opaque quality allows for effective colour richness and transparency when the under layer dries. The transparent layer should glow but not too much.

My paintings often take months to complete owing to the introduction of glazes throughout the build up of layers. Sounds like a layer cake. When I was teaching my students and I would laugh at this so-called “Sara Lee” effect. It’s often regarded as a traditional painting technique practiced by the Old Masters. I love all the qualities of the oil medium which range from transparent, semi-transparent, semi-opaque through to opaque. When I’m asked  do a commission I usually do other versions while paint dries but also I see a single topic in different ways.


Oil Painting Commission continued

Final Stages of Commission

Final Stages of Commission

Final Stages

At this stage I built up paint layers as an attempt to suggest shallow water on the left side of the composition. However still required is more structure and clarity of focus. Simplification of the colour with more tone might strengthen and give more solidity to the land form. A balancing of the form and the process of its disintegration through erosion needs more attention.

Untitled companion oil and mixed media

Untitled companion to Commission 1

Untitled companion to Commission 1

Untitled companion painting, detail

Untitled companion painting, detail

This composition also needs the structure strengthened and more tone to the left. A little more warmth in colour on the left and getting some overly busy areas consolidated are my next stage in the process. The image of the detail is the busy area under scrutiny.


Seascape Oil Painting Commission continued

Final Stages

The final stages of this commission take form as I threw paint, texture and line into the composition that now looks too busy and requires more focus on the statement.  Colour was an important factor for the person who commissioned this work as he asked me to include indigo. Very definite colour as a significant element in the composition often means that detailed shape and form take a back seat. My aim now is to simplify some of the textural areas, strengthen the composition without losing the organic animated gestural marks intended to live life to the image. The grey values also visually give intense colour space.

Oil painting Commission continued into the final stages.

Oil painting Commission continued into the final stages.

Companion Painting to the Commission

I enjoy the process of imaging several versions of an image. The untitled image measurements are 90 x 120 cm and is also an oil on canvas (linen). The painting in middle stage development is about the particular way a horizontal layer of chalky yellow rock forms an entablature-like shape that has weathered incrementally to its present position situated halfway along the length of the point (Point Roadknight).  On the sea side of the gap a remnant piece of rock  adjacent to an intact outcrop  kept in place by the soil and tree roots above it looked bare and solitary as weathering has removed above layers. Bare bones of rock washed by the tides are home to marine life on this section of the point; one side of the gap terrestrial life on the other marine.

Unfinished middle stage, Untitled 1, 2013,  oil and mixed media on canvas.

Unfinished middle stage, Untitled 1, 2013, oil and mixed media on canvas 90×120 cm

Second Oil Painting Commission

Fortunately another commission resulted from the first one described above. The subject matter taken from the same place named Point Roadknight situated along the Great Ocean Road is a fascinating, dramatic structure that changes visually due to tides and weather conditions and structurally because of relentless weathering and erosion. It’s almost as though my photographs, painting and etchings are witness to this process.

I think I’m at the late early stage where movement and gesture predominate and keep the image looking fresh within these layers. The aim is to retain this immediate fresh impression as the layers build up.

2nd Commission, unfinished early stage, Untitled 2, 2013, oil on canvas on board.

2nd Commission, unfinished early stage, Untitled 2, 2013, oil on canvas on board 90×122 cm

In the painting my focus is also on the terrestrial edge of this halfway gap along the rock formation. I will refer to last years photographic records as many of the ‘entablatures’ and ‘ columns’ washed away by rain, wind and sea show scars of their former location. We have in Australia one of if not the most fragile of coastlines in the world.

This area is a small section of the Great Ocean Road which is under consideration and part of a campaign for world heritage protection which if successful would put it on par with the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland and Kakadu in the Northern Territory.

In 2011 I completed a series of etching, chine-colle and collage titled Return to Sand and Water where I depicted images of this process of loss and change and likened it to my process of painting. The images can be viewed at desterreart.com.au as well as in my shop/gallery on Etsy named ElainedEsterre. There are also 5 images that resulted from my Kakadu trip which are part of a series of artwork titled An Archaeology of Landscape. The complete Archaeology of Landscape may be viewed at desterreart.com.au


Posters, Portraits, Prayers and Comic Strips

Influences from the Poster Day Bill

I always cited the sources of my imagery or iconography  derived from art history books, museums or archaeology to have derived from so-called high art both old and new masters.   But re thinking was in order as some unconscious images came to the fore. Yesterday on eBay I scrolled through posters on display. They were arranged in chronological order ranging from recently dated reaching back to the 1950s. I found the change of style over time quite interesting as both ends of this spectrum showed how technology changed designs and their content.

Today it is possible to create tonally complex figurative imagery where a protagonist in a particular scene selected from the movie and situated in a complex perspective realist or hyper realist styled background constituted the poster format design. However many of these literal images selected as part of a narrative, often depicted using tenebrism, a darkened Caravaggio style  enhancing the feeling of action, were  often hard to read in an eye-grabbing  instant compared to the designs of the 1950s.  The shiny glossy surface was also a point of contrast placed next to the opaque day bills of the 50s.

Gina Lollobrigida starring in " Anna of Brooklyn ", 1958, Vintage Daybill movie poster.

Gina Lollobrigida starring in ” Anna of Brooklyn “, 1958, Vintage Daybill movie poster.

Recent movie poster

Recent movie poster

Even though the latest imagery is detailed (regardless of content which is another story), realistic, atmospheric, tonal ( the figures have weight and volume ) and are placed in a fairly realistic perspective space, the visual impact came from first posters for me. Disregarding the subject matter, the formalist values, the flattened figure with hard edges and bright colour caught my attention immediately.

The text showed  polished almost glowing 3-D lettering arching along the bottom line in contrast to the text in the early poster that is simple, flat probably done by hand or type set ( Letraset a few years away ? ) with no attempt at atmospheric perspective. However by placing secondary figures and other aspects of the narrative almost in miniature compared to the figure of the protagonist the sense of distance  fell into place.

One type of dramatic action was about an adventure and the other was about a romance rendered with flat contrasting colour.

I wondered why these old style posters apart from the nostalgia they evoked of a by-gone era  played on my mind. In that era without colour television my main sources of imagery from popular culture  were these posters, the movies, comics and comic strips in newspapers, Time and Life magazines and The Saturday Evening Post (Norman Rockwell). I became aware  a strong influence some of these posters had on the unconscious formatting of my imagery in a formalist sense.

For example the image from a mural titled Women  of the Interior while being about a protagonist who explored the Australian Outback had a composition imprint related to the first image though the colour related to the desert.

Elaine d'Esterre. Detail from a mural titled Women of the Interior, 1992, 12 feet by 30 feet. acrylic on plaster board

Elaine d’Esterre. Detail from a mural titled Women of the Interior, 1992, 12 feet by 30 feet. acrylic on plaster board

This image was also similar in that figures placed in the foreground had smaller images placed around the main figure positioned in a way to heighten the sense of drama. In the far distance, through the keyhole the artist engaged in the act  of painting  took second place to the foreground fantasy figures.

Elaine d'Esterre. The Original Sudarium, 1994 - 1995, diptych, 132x180 cm, oil on canvas, from my PhD exegesis titled Feminist Poetics: Symbolism in an Emblematic Journey about Self and Vision

Elaine d’Esterre. The Original Sudarium, 1994 – 1995, diptych, 132×180 cm, oil on canvas, from my PhD exegesis titled Feminist Poetics: Symbolism in an Emblematic Journey about Self and Vision

Influences from the classroom portrait

Another unexpected source of imagery derived from old master prints was The Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals and  Vincent Van Gogh self portraits that appeared to  stare down from above a classroom mantle piece.

Face and Horn, 1994, 76x66 cm, oil on canvas, from Feminist Poetics

Face and Horn, 1994, 76×66 cm, oil on canvas, from Feminist Poetics

Influences from the school chapel

As well as the format of the 3/4 view classroom portrait the prints in the school chapel included The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci .  The  frontal portrayal of Christ was also a well used iconic image.

Elaine d'Esterre. Through the Window 2, 2000, 50x75 cm gouache, from the series titled Eye and Site 1

Elaine d’Esterre. Through the Window 2, 2000, 50×75 cm gouache, from the series titled Eye and Site 1

Placed beside the altar in which hung the da Vinci The Last Supper print was a framed print of The Annunciation by Fra Angelico.

The Annunciation in Florence, 1440 - 60, Fra Angelico. Florence, Museo di  S. Marco. Fresco. ( Source: Baxandall, Michael, 1972 )

The Annunciation in Florence, 1440 – 60, Fra Angelico. Florence, Museo di S. Marco. Fresco. ( Source: Baxandall, Michael, 1972 )

d'Esterre. Subjectivity 2, 2004, 92x108 cm, oil on board, from Eye and Site 1

d’Esterre. Subjectivity 2, 2004, 92×108 cm, oil on board, from Eye and Site 1

This painting was about the relationship between artist and model. The model’s assertive behaviour reversed the usual procedure where the artist had control of the gaze.

Influences from the comic strip

My compositions some times constructed in triptych or diptych format hark back to an era of comics and comic strips. The topic may be complex and have embedded in the imagery reference to history, myth or allegory. By dividing the composition into segments the artist can suggest  many dimensions and layered meaning to the viewer where each segment became part of the whole composition.

E. d'Esterre. About Durer's Witch, 1995 - 1997, triptych, 90x252 cm, oil on canvas, from exegesis titled Feminist Poetics

E. d’Esterre. About Durer’s Witch, 1995 – 1997, triptych, 90×252 cm, oil on canvas, from exegesis titled Feminist Poetics

On the other hand an artist may want to portray  several versions  of a topic and paint a series of related images but each image can exist on its own.

Momento mori 1, 2006, 50x770 cm, oil on gessoed paper, part of a series titled Eye and Site 2

Momento mori 1, 2006, 50×770 cm, oil on gessoed paper, part of a series titled Eye and Site 2

Momento Mori 2, 2006, 52x70 cm, oil on gessoed paper, from Eye and Site 2

Momento Mori 2, 2006, 52×70 cm, oil on gessoed paper, from Eye and Site 2

Momento Mori 3, 2006, 52x70 cm, oil on gessoed paper, from Eye and Site 2

Momento Mori 3, 2006, 52×70 cm, oil on gessoed paper, from Eye and Site 2

Although the comic strip derived  images read horizontally I also enjoy suggesting to the viewer a sense of depth in parts of the composition  that could be read as though looking through a window. I enjoy fusing together different ways of looking.


Women’s History, Influential ” inVisible Women “

Some images from prehistory have influenced many artists throughout the course of the 20th century, many of which can be found in the new book titled Invisible Women of Prehistory: three million years of peace, six thousand years of war by Judy Foster with Marlene Derlet.

Some of my earlier work from the 1970s to the 90s was influenced by Tassili rock art.

Tassili wall painting

Female Entity 2, 1980, gouache, ink, charcoal, pastel 40x28 cm. Permission of the collector.

Female Entity 2, 1980, gouache, ink, charcoal, pastel. Permission of the collector 40×28 cm

Goddess Head, 1992, 24x34 cm print, 34x68 cm paper, relief and intaglio.

Goddess Head, 1992, relief and intaglio 24×34 cm print, 34×68 cm paper

Later aspects of the Minoan Bronze Age and Ancient Greek myth influenced me because these legends were on the fringe of history and prehistory. The imagery on the excavated art, sculpture, artifacts and architecture were witness to cultural and social upheaval. However in Minoan figurines were displayed positive depictions of women often depicted in rituals and social interaction. They were not confined to domestic spheres.

Illustrations by Judy Foster, from Invisible Women of Prehistory: three million years of peace, six million years of war, sourced from Baring and Cashford (1991)

Neolithic Minoan Crete: Knossos. Archaeological finds at the complex at Knossos 6km from Heraklion.
Illustrations by Judy Foster, sourced from Invisible Women of Prehistory: three million years of peace, six million years of war.

These sensitively depicted drawings by Judy Foster are interesting because they show that in Crete styles of sculpture appeared to change over time. Figures 1 and 2 are dated approx. 4500 BC. The Neolithic style of imagery, theriomorphic and stylised meant that it referred to all women. Where as figures 3 and 4, dated approx. 1600 BC depict a particular person. Generally art of the Neolithic has an abstract character compared with that of Minoan Crete where naturalism came to the fore, The type of activity, style of dress details, attributes and emblems were rendered carefully. In comparison figures 1 and 2 are static, that is the body and head morph and distort into aspects of a snake, bird and column. However the later representations that also refer to animals show depictions of real figures and real animals. Instead of a columnar shaped head and neck in figure 1 the image, that is figure 3, of what is thought to be a priestess has a column shaped headdress.
What these four figures have in common is complex symbolism, aspects of which are explored in this book.

The symbolism and meaning became a poetic source incorporated into my imagery as I aimed to combine Minoan symbolism with European oil painting. I visited Crete to aid to my research in 1993.

The Eye Ritual, diptych, 1995 - 1996,  oil on canvas 92x120 cm

The Eye Ritual, diptych, 1995 – 1996, oil on canvas 92×120 cm

My imagery during the last ten years developed and changed, the symbolism remained but functioned as a form of disguised symbolism. This enabled me to use the paint in a freer mode where its organic texture combined with abstract shapes. The image below is from a series titled Eye and Site 3.

Reaching the Image, 2011, gouache.

Reaching the Image, 2011, gouache 50×70 cm

The painting titled Recall, 2008, is from a series titled Eye and Site 2.

Recall, 2008, oil on canvas 82x120 cm

Recall, 2008, oil on canvas 82×120 cm