Statement for Gaffa show 2012 and for plein air drawings generally
Sydney Harbour is my studio. Each day as I take the ferry to and from work, I draw the landscape as I pass it by. On the weekend I often visit the places I draw while on the ferry, to get a different perspective on the journey and the place. The ferry trip for me is a very happy time in my day. It’s when I am “with myself” as an artist, it’s like being in a vacuum, a long drawing in of my creative breath before the work day starts. Each drawing is a quick sketch, taking seconds to complete. When you’re working this way, things are hit and miss which is exciting yet challenging too. It allows me to move on quickly and not think too much, which is very good for me! I have always loved drawings with fluidity, preferring a single expressive line to cross hatching even though I see the beauty in that technique. I remember loving the fluid, gestural lines of Daumier when I was at art school, I felt there was so much energy in the strokes. An artist friend remarked that my drawings are like music, which made me very happy. I listen to music as I create and have always done so. Music is integral to my art practice, I can’t imagine not listening to music as I work. In the past few months I switched from pencil to ink. I experimented with ink in my last show and the images really sprang to life in a wonderful way. I had struggled to use it on the ferry as I couldn’t risk an open bottle of ink tipping over. This was remedied with the discovery of ink brush pens. I have two, both made in Japan of course. They have given my practice a fresh impetus these past few months. I adore drawing in ink. I believe you need to have a certain level of confidence to draw in ink and I feel that I have that confidence. I feel that I’ve finally reached a technical adeptness in drawing that satisfies me, it is of course a lifelong endeavour in which I will become more and more adept as time goes by.
Kamay exhibition statement 2007 General statement
This body of work is about my fascination with the light on Botany Bay in the early morning when the sun is still low in the sky. At this time, the light bounces off the water, mist veils the port and headlands in a way that disguises their true nature. The cranes of Port Botany are grey shadows. The only difference between the sky and the sea is their texture.The headlands seem to float on the horizon and take on a weightless appearance.I find my eye drawn to the entrance constantly. Partly because there's always something going on with tankers and tugs and partly a human fascination with the horizon, the boundless potential of what is beyond where my eye can see.After about 8.30 the sun has risen high enough in the sky to cancel these effects and we see the orange and yellow cranes of Port Botany for what they are.The sea returns to a dull green and becomes quite prosaic.I love the fact that with each step I take, perspective changes and how dramatic some of those changes can be. This morning I saw an oil tanker appear from the shadow of the Kurnell headland as I walked. The ship wasn't moving, it "emerged" as I walked along the shore.The pigments I use are well suited to the capturing of light effects and these works continue my exploration of light, which has been a constant theme in my work. These are also my first attempts at landscape though landscapes have often emerged from my abstract paintings.There are other layers to my abiding interest in the bay. The overarching fact of its place in Australian history, acknowledging the original inhabitants and the catastrophic changes that settlement brought for them. Kamay is the aboriginal name for the bay.It was originally called Stingray Bay by Captain Cook.I am a local, I have spent many hours on its shores in all weather. The bay is many things to many people. It is where I, and thousands of others before me have come to enjoy the sea and sunshine and also to work and live.It is much, much more than a place of historical significance, it has multiple meanings, it is a part of many people's daily lives. Who knows how many memories are tied to it?I often find myself looking out and imagining the Endeavour sailing through the heads, wondering what it was like. I find myself amazed over and over again that it took place right in front of me. The bay signifies the passage of time very strongly to me and I love the fact that it will be there, long after I am gone and that it is 237 years this May since the first landing. Finally, the words Botany Bay conjure up pollution and a degraded marine environment for most Sydneysiders. I have found that not to be the case, having seen some amazing marine fauna over the years. The dual title of the show reflects the multi-layered nature of the place, Kamay is a word most people in Sydney would not be familiar with. It's a multitude of places, these paintings could be seen as some of those other places.