Tag Archives: art

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #32

SALA is here and that means I am out and about at exhibitions being drenched in the creativity of artists around me. I have been fortunate to be involved in a few of the openings, invited to speak and have an opportunity to reflect and introduce the art being shared.

The diversity of images and media chosen by various artists calls us voyeurs to come closer. I am not a visual artist or sculpture, but I can sometimes see things other people can’t in a situation or detect something emerging on the horizon. Artists have the ability to make visible what perhaps others of us can’t see. Their eye, their choice of colours, how they frame their subject, what media they use, are all portals of possibilities to enable us gazing on their work to get a glimpse into how they are seeing the world.

I opened an exhibition at the Willunga Uniting Church Bethany Hall called Breathe. I talked about the relationship between inspiration and expiration – breathing in and breathing out. Doing this simple exercise of breathing together has been seriously compromised in these pandemic times, and so I think it is more important than ever to find ways in which we can communally get an opportunity to share the air without causing us harm and the humble act of an exhibition opening in a church hall, is one such way. Masked up and suitably separated by distance, the assembled gathered to celebrate the coming out of studios where work was created, now being shared and made visible for all to see.

The artists I’ve seen over these first two weeks of SALA are incredibly diverse. I have seen the beauty of crayon and paint of a 4 year old Estelle at a school-based SALA event, the interlocking pieces of old car parts and industrial rusted components transformed into sea creatures, oil paints layered to recreate a memory of a lost love, weaving patterns as old as the Dreamtime being used for baskets, mixed media collages calling forth the seasons, glass mosaics, endangered lizard potrait in charcoal, bejewelled earrings telling a tale of surf and sand, mandalas in ink drawn by the steadiest of hands, abstracted landscapes in every shade of green, deep time reflected in ancient red gum hosting seed pods, sunflowers offering up a blessing to a blue sky in honour of Ukraine.

Just as the artist puts their work in the world, an expiration if you like, or what has inspired them, so we the viewer get to inhale their work and then exhale it through our interpretation. We don’t survive if we only breathe out or only breathe in! We can’t live on oxygen or carbon dioxide, it is the mix and balance of these gases that enables us all to survive and we need both.

I know a bit about what it is like to have one more than the other and it is very unpleasant. Regular readers over the years will know my husband died of a disease where the lungs capacity to transfer oxygen into the blood stream and deliver enough oxygen to the rest of the body failed, and it took almost a decade for that failure to end in death. It is not too dissimiliar to what is happening to us as a planet. If we don’t arrest this situation we too will literally won’t be able to breathe.

Artists and their creations are critical in helping us see what might be invisible. Get along to any SALA event if you can and open up to seeing something new, or being moved by a memory, or even repelled by an image that offends your sensibilities. What ever your reaction it is an echo of the relationship between breathing in and breathing out, and we need both.

Opening SALA exhibition at Tinjella, Lynn Chamberlain’s studio, Willunga, with Marisa Bell, Candidate for Southern Vales Ward, City of Onkaparinga.

Sparks will fly #2 #NewYork

Here are four sparks from the week. Sparks that have ignited my soul and warmed me in the cool of winter in North America.  Sparks releasing energy to give light and shade. Sparks offering promise and revealing potential. Sparks from the soles of the shoes of this pilgrim that has taken me across the world and home again safely thanks to the generosity of a few and kindness of many along the way.

Spark 1

Simmering thoughts bubbling up in anger sooner or later turn into sparks of inspiration and seem through their friction to open up new possibilities when allowing those sparks to transform and expand their energy. Holding on to the fuse and not letting the energy find its way out can be a source of constriction, pain or at a minimum exasperation.  Wandering around some of the world’s greatest art spaces these past two weeks I was particularly struck by the power of anger as creative energy to get thoughts expressed and forced out through tear ducts, paint brushes and stone.  Solid objects chiselled and honed into beauty through disappointment, fear or aching neglect and words spilling out onto stages where the receptacles of open hearts and minds took the offering to deeper levels as we internalised meaning and applied to our lives. I have been reflecting about what it might look like in my practice and my work to leave nothing left unsaid and bring every single cell of my being into view for public display. The creative soul expressed is vulnerability writ large and empathy unplugged.

Spark 2

Sparks of light creating the in-between spaces and the shadows as well – there are always shadows – to fully accept what is being revealed is to also recognise the shadow created. I have recently been introduced to the contemplative practice of miksang. The Tibetan word means ‘good eye’ and is about the eye being synchronised with the contemplative mind through photography.  It seems to be about seeing as is, empty and free of interpretation. It is based on the Dharma Art teachings of Chogyam Trungpa.  I have not taken a course or read much about it, I have a friend who is a practitioner and I have taken some offerings and suggestions from her as well as witnessed her practice which I have found invitational. I added my immature and beginning steps into miksang with a kind of walking meditation, wandering where my feet took me without a specific destination in mind and tried not to have too many plans to take a right or a left.  It has been refreshing to see as is and to notice what is given and to receive the what is without interpretation, to feel into the seeing. It has led to multiple ways of seeing what is before me, both in real time and in reflection and then again when reviewing photos seeing again with new insights, shadows, patterns, hidden messages in reflected glass, surprising shapes and camouflaged insights revealed more fully a few days later.

Spark 3

Outside of the window I called home for two weeks Lady Liberty was pointing her torch to guide the way as ships came in and out of the river basin into the Atlantic. The Iroquois called it, the Muhhekuntuk, the river that flows both ways, because near the Atlantic it flows north and where it begins in Lake Tear of the Clouds it flows south.  Every day the elements re-arranged themselves around the skyline punctuated by skyscrapers to reveal plenty of light and shade and to offer nuanced ways of seeing the landscape. The sun sometimes casting a beam in between buildings to light up a dark wind tunnel alley way to give some warmth, the clouds closing over to being a mood setting to the scene on a dock worthy of a dramatic New York method acting stage, the twinkling lights acting as a join the dot game for young lovers to play as they set a course for their future.

Spark 4

Being in the USA and soaking up the political climate as well was to recognise the sparks of change igniting a nation that is re-correcting itself post the mid-term elections. The politics of relevance is at play and democracy is in the light and in the shadows. As the extremes define the middle new voices are arriving. The rise of young women in Congress are thrilling for many and terrifying for a few. The reclamation of the gavel by a grandmother is giving comfort and confidence to many in the middle and the juxtaposition with the grandfather in the White House is another expression of the gender wars reverberating around the world. I am so encouraged and enthralled by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who The spark in her is a raging fire, not yet thirty she understands the urgency of this time and is not waiting in line, not waiting for her turn, who is arriving ready, with an agenda to take care of business.  Like the artists she is using her spark to create for us to see what might be hidden, to offer another way of seeing and understanding what might be in front of our eyes. There is discipline in this practice of democracy and she is not leaving anything in the locker room – all of her is being brought into view.

49161982_10217558847232179_2380787018843029504_o