top of page

Cooler Nights

My days and now my nights are frequently punctuated by searing shots of pain, that leave me stranded on the spot. Like a wounded animal, all I can manage is to collapse to the ground, roll onto my back and heave my right leg to my chest. Dignity all but gone. I hope this is not a life sentence, it is debilitating. But the x ray shows a crushed nerve and a sloping spine and I know no way to straighten it. Fortunately, for the most part I am fine.

I was reminded the other night, as I lay there on the studio floor, leg pulled to my chest as I tried to unfurl the gripping sharpness down my right leg, of an earlier time. Over 30 years ago, I was in a similar prone position. Two nights ago, I was trying something different. Using the work to express the story in a physical way. A form of sculpture but a painting that can be four paintings or one. I was working on a four panel piece, I called it "She Breaks Apart". I sensed a glimmer of enthusiasm and experimentation in how I was feeling about my work, that lit me up and fuelled me again. It was a sensation that I had missed and I was so happy to feel it again. And then I had the strangest sensation. As if unbeknownst to me, these past thirty years I had been traveling through time in a spiral and on that night, like a trajectory of a planet, an orbit seen for the first time, I was aligned in space if not in time. I was in a familiar place. I felt that sense of possibility, of what being a painter inspired in me, even as I'd laid on my back then, crippled with pain. In Adelaide, in a cold, blue room in a share house with cruel men. So, it was the strangest sensation, lying here in my beautiful studio, older, wiser, just as alone, surrounded by paintings that I didn't know then, that I would go on to make. As if I could peer through time and in recognising that I had arrived at the same place, and the most telling thing that struck me then, was that I could make different choices.

Begging For Food, Charcoal on Paper. 1987

She Breaks Apart. 4 panels. Oil on timber. Work in Progress

I've still got much to do with these panels. At the moment it's just a concept. But, when I found a work that I had made, Begging for Food in 1987 I had used small squares of paper, each work individually drawn with charcoal and then placed together to create a work in its own right. I thought of it as a metaphor. We are all these moments, each action abstract yet complete in and of itself, that when looked from afar, with some kind of perspective, makes up a recognisable form. That we say, is my life as I have lived it.

The Grass is Always Greener, oil on canvas, 92 x 76cm. 2021

Our imagination and desire for something new or better can be unsettling. Even when the offer of a sweet treat is there for the taking, we might not see it. Instead he looks towards the horizon. Hobbled to pursue his vision because of the imagined barriers.

38 views5 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page