Cruel Summer (Folded)
Cruel Summer (Folded), 2018.
Exhibited at John Curtin Gallery in 2018 as part of 'Imaginary Aesthetic Territories'
Digital and Screen Print on Canvas and Board.
Art Size: 60cmW x 90cmH
Frame Size: 68cmW x 98cmH x 4cmD
Solid Wood Frame painted Black.
The sense of emptiness and negative space perceived in traditional Japanese art, contributes to these prints. I perceive the openness (or nothingness) of unlimited space so ubiquitous in the Australian landscape as equivalent to the empty space of potentiality described by the Zen-Buddhist-Shinto tradition (Hara 2014).
A void, a pause, or area of spatial emptiness, which can be discerned in most of my prints, relates to the primordial sense of the dynamic whole of the universe, a space that is never complete or permanent, an always-changing force that is to be admired and appreciated. In the moments of reflection, whilst sitting in the environment, I detect the feeling of wonder, sensation of awe, calmness and perfection in nature which can be described aesthetically as yūgen (an awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and powerful for words).
We give landscape an inflection by the dwelling, immersing and responding to a place, and that the experience of it is inflected with our identity.
Whilst drawing in the Tasmanian landscape in 2014, I recalled a memory of a bushfire that surrounded our family home when I was a child. As the memories filtered through into my drawing, not only did the moment of panic and terror of being isolated with a raging fire about to consume my home become re-recorded, but also the blackened landscape and eventual return to blossoming beauty of the native habitat that follows so quickly after a bushfire was contained in the drawing . The image was later turned into a repeating pattern, Cruel Summer , which reiterated the cyclical nature of death and reformation that repeats over and over within the landscape through seasonal change and natural phenomenon such as bushfires, floods and storms. Not only does the repeating device of the print refer to this cycle, but the rising moon shape and symbolism of fire, which is at once destructive and regenerative, is found within the print, reinforcing the theme of cycles that are never complete.
All things, including the universe itself, are in constant, never ending state of becoming or dissolving. Often we arbitrarily designate moments, points along the way, as “finished” or “complete”. But when does something’s destiny finally come to fruition? Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns to compost? The notion of completion has no basis in wabi-sabi.
(Koren 1994, 15)
Originally the Cruel Summer print was iki (sharp, crisp, measured) with a katagami-like (stencil) appearance printed on a smooth wallpaper length (influenced by Florence Broadhurst’s cleanly delineated designs) made specifically for an exhibition in 2014.
After working with Akira Isogawa and distilling his lesson on the importance of patina and character in wabi-sabi, I began to experiment with roughing the edges of the design, scratching and overlaying textures.