I spent a winter in Tasmania with my siblings when they bought land near Cradle Mountain, built an A-frame and tried their hand at self sufficiency. I joined them for awhile learning how to make soy milk and dig holes for human waste. And then winter hit and I went into hibernation with a 6 month old baby washing nappies in cold water. Arrgghh!! I waited just long enough for the winter storms to pass in Bass Strait and headed for the warmth of NSW and QLD settling in Brunswick Heads and surrounding area for many years.
My sister is still in Tasmania and she stuck to self sufficiency for 15 or 20 years. I was very proud of her and sent care packages whenever I could. I have fond memories of the autumn and spring and the wonderful mountains and gardens, but it was too tough for me.
The Glover Art Prize is coming up again for 2019 (closes January) and its focus is on Tasmanian Landscape painting.
I am preparing an artwork for this prize which takes in the 1970’s Homesteaders impact on Tasmania’s landscape, both cultural and natural landscape. If I miss the deadline there’s always next time, but I’m aiming for a Dayze of Innocence Mark II painting showing that beautiful A-frame and my sister’s goats and garden with the backdrop of Mount Bell at Cethana where my siblings contributed to the homesteader regeneration of Tasmania back in the 1970’s.
I’ve been reading up on Aesthetics from a Uni course posted online by Oxford University – “Aesthetics and Art”. I’m working my way through the semesters, but got caught in Emmanuel Kant’s ideas about the experiencing of beauty. He thought it was the pleasure created in the mind before the mind assigned concepts to the experience. That really resonated with me. He also thought that experiencing the Sublime was similar. It gives us pleasure to be “In the Now”, having a “Direct” experience of something that evokes intense pleasure which we cannot name.
It reminded me of my close encounters with wildlife when we lock eyes, smell each other, experience the magic and are frozen in a state of wonder. It is those moments when the mind is open to simply experience, before the cognitive functions kick in and the concepts of “wallaby”, “joey”, “fear” etc are not yet formed. Then in an instant they are gone, rustling into the undergrowth and I am left feeling high on pleasure.
The pleasure is partly because the animal is a warm blooded creature with cognitive functions I can recognise. I can see it jump, lick its lips, blink, scratch itself and … it can see me, hear me. What a thrill to be noticed.
So I am curious … how can art and beautiful things compare to the living, breathing creature I encounter? Is the engagement anywhere near the same?
I receive a number of email notifications from magazines and galleries which give various images from contemporary painter/artists. I don’t know whether it is the format (online image) or whether it is the art, but I find very few that fire up my imagination.
I find image after image which consists of no more design than plonking an item (be it figure, unnamed form or anthropomorphic animal) in the centre of the image and adhering to nothing more than two or three layers at best.
I seek art that takes my breath away – that awe inspires me. I’m looking for intriguing design, expert technique, a interesting idea, imagery which connects to memory and mediums which support the industry. Only one of these is required for me to be impressed, but I’m constantly disappointed in the vast majority of images I see today, even those by the art world’s heroes and heroines. Most have even lost their ability to shock while others simply disgust me.
Del Barton’s paintings were the last paintings that inspired me from the major art prizes held in recent years. And William Robinson’s body of work never ceases to move me to the heights of artistic ecstasy I keep looking for in other contemporary work.
Perhaps I just don’t get out enough, perhaps I haven’t read enough contemporary writing to convince me or perhaps it is, as I suggest, something in the artwork itself.
I have been pondering on these topics and reading widely to find an answer to the disappointment I feel as I engage with the artworld with my own paintings.
Australia has a dismal record for supporting the arts, so perhaps addressing this issue will help to overcome the deficiencies in the art market too.