All the Art » Desert Sonnet Series

The pieces in this exhibition are from my current Desert Sonnet Series, inspired by a journey across the Tanami Desert.

The particular idea I’m exploring here is that while ‘Desert’ sounds like a harsh and unforgiving place, it’s surprising what she opens up and gives a home to – the life that seems absent at first glance but is pulsing through everything. Employing layering techniques, scratched, stencilled and painted symbols, I’ve attempted to recreate the sensation of the things we sense, but cannot see; and to capture the calm softness which is unexpected in a harsh landscape.

This sonnet, written as I traveled through the desert, was the initial spark for this body of work:

Like long forgotten headstones, anthills stand,
Shoulder to shoulder, far as I can see,
They witness many tracks made in the sand,
By seekers in the quest of feeling free.

The wind, whispering through the desert oaks,
To quiet contemplation beckons I,
Ideas I may have wisdom are just jokes.
I’m feeling small under this vast blue sky.

The wattle, blooming, waves her golden limbs.
A tiny bird hunts insects for her chick.
A stillness falls as this day’s end begins,
And slowly stars, the night sky, start to prick.

But freedom doesn’t come without a cost,
To hunt for wisdom, first we must get lost.

Seeking Freedom is the first piece in the desert series, and is an attempt to capture in paint the vast ancientness and mystery of a place that peels away something from your understanding of the world and of yourself, leaving you open to an awareness of things we sense but cannot see.

30cm x 30cm
Acrylic,charcoal & oil pastel, on canvas
The choice of a monochromatic scheme allowed me to concentrate on exploring the contrast of sharp lines against soft edges, to try and convey a sense of mystery - of things being revealed, but not fully seen.

30cm x 30cm
Acrylic and oil pastel on canvas
Witness explores the idea of things being revealed - hinted at, but not easily seen. I wanted to create depth to pull the viewer deeper into the piece.

This piece was named as a finalist in the Lethbridge 20000 art prize

30cm x 30cm
Acrylic,charcoal & oil pastel, on canvas
The botanical form used here was referenced from a scrubby little plant that seemed to be stubbornly holding onto life in the dry, sandy dust of our camp. The piece has a feel of chaos giving way to calm for me - much like my experience of going into the desert. I found the 'busy-ness' of daily life gives way to a more gentle rhythm out there.

30cm x 30cm
Acrylic,charcoal & oil pastel, on canvas