Margaret River, Western Australia

BACHing Owl in the 1914 Key of See


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“BACHing Owl in the 1914 Key of See”
mixed media/silver leaf/New Zealand Paua shell and Margaret River twigs & leaves on canvas.
30cm x 30cm.


This is my competition/exhibition entry for the Visual Stories Exhibition held at The Foyer Gallery at the Margaret River Cultural Centre in conjunction with the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival. The Opening night is Friday 3rd June @ 6.30pm and The Visual Stories Exhibition is on display 3rd -30th June 2016.
There was 3 criterias that the artist needed to meet, which I found quite challenging especially the tiny size, but I have decided to work on a few more paintings this size so as to challenge and stretch my own artistic preferences and work out of ‘the box’ so to speak.

1. The maximum size is small – 55 cm
2. The Theme – home
3. The artist must use repurposed books.

I used a lot texture to start the basis framework of the work.

Last year I met a retired piano teacher at an art exhibition opening and she mentioned that she had just thrown out some manuscript in the recycling. I asked her if I could have it so over the next months, it was rescued from the recycling bin in Perth by her son and I secured it safely.

As I started to tear the manuscript, it had the most beautiful feel to the tearing process. Almost like tearing through a crunchy fine rice sheet. It kind of just broke wherever there was pressure applied. I contacted the piano teacher and asked her how old it was and she informed it was from the year 1914. Very ancient indeed (in Australian history.)

As usual, the vague idea I had of the painting, delivered a totally different outcome of what arrived on the canvas. It was going to be just 2 tone in all silver leaf underbase and shades of aqua.

That’s what I love about process is that I never know what the final piece will look when I start it. It just evolves as my intuition guides me. I’m always surprised at the end and I can rarely remember how it all came about. It often feels that someone else has produced it as when I paint I go into a deep meditative state. At the end of any work, I often think, “Did I create that and how did I do that?”

Next I added some silver leaf and more texture, sgrafitto, carved lines and embossed patterns and added raised dots.

I visited one of the open studios and the houseand studio had just had the outside of their walls whitewashed. In the garden refuse wheelbarrow was a branch of leaves covered in paint that must have got splashed from the house painter.

I went inside to the artist and gave her the unique branch of tiny Autumn leaves and she said, “You found it, you can have it”. I knew this was somehow going to be incorporated into my work.

Another girlfriend went to New Zealand last year and gave me some Pāua shell. Paua is the New Zealand Māori name for Abalone. She gave me a bag of a few precious pieces as a present that she bought from a port town called Russell in the Bay of Islands – a chain of islands on the North Island of New Zealand. I’ve been looking at these for the last 18 months and wondering when I could use them in some art. I found the perfect beak shaped shell and incorporated that in there too.

So there are 3 found/given/donated objects included in this work, the manuscript musical score from 1914, the Paua shell from the Bay of Islands in New Zealand and the leaves of a branch from Margaret River.

What is home? Home is history, home is story, home is country, home is symbiosis and home is where the heart lays.
I have incorporated antique manuscript score from 1914 and used a play on words with the title since its in conjunction with the writers festival.
What is home? Home is history, home is story, home is country, home is symbiosis and home is where the heart lays


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