|Place of Birth||USA|
BioI am interested in the inevitable decline and fall of buildings, and how quickly architectural order dissolves into ruin and rubble. The new is not only replacing the old – it is replacing the new.
Through this world of constant change I am exploring notions of transience and the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. My work is not about the triumph of nature, but an intermediate moment, a fragile equilibrium between persistence and decay, stability and disarray. I want to look at that short space of time and place that sits between a past and a future, and then is gone.
Rather than focusing on the veneer of confusion, the chaos of change, multiplicity of images, juxtaposition, expendability and fragmentation in the city, I decided I wanted to make quiet works that take you past that veneer. I make no judgment as to whether the demolition and temporary ruin replacing decay and the classical ruin in our surroundings is good or bad – it just is.
I feel that not using saturated colours in my canvas has helped me describe the fragility of the moment. In some works I have referenced traditional landscape painting with allusions to a Monet water-lily pond, reflections and panoramic view. In others I have used different styles of painting in the same work to create ambiguity, and devices such as wood graining, or small sections of trompe lóeil to create a distancing from the original image and heighten the sense of loss and dysfunction.
The most recent series of works features an old wooden house in Brisbane, its occupants and history of use. The house is in disrepair and derelict, and is currently awaiting demolition or redevelopment. It is still recognisable as an old, distinctly Brisbane house – albeit fallen on hard times. After nearly 80 years of being a family house, raising 13 children and sheltering three generations of births and deaths (and pets), it has outlived its usefulness.
As I want these works to relate to the iconic Brisbane house, I have looked at uniquely local features – such as a wooden, closed-in veranda; louvre windows; wooden stairs; and peeling paint on weatherboard. I wanted to show the quiet, old age that comes with a lifetime of use and occupancy, and the poignancy of knowing that things can’t stay the same for much longer.
I have tried to portray the depth and variety of textures that become part of the patina of age, as opposed to the smoothness of youth and the modern. I am also very interested in the strange beauty that emerges as the layers of a house disintegrate. There is evidence of an ’80s Ikea kitchen, now stripped out; home-made “mosaicked” retaining walls in the garden; and the loss of the handrail from the front stairs.
Ultimately, the fragility of what we have constructed is revealed.
“All things human hang by a slender thread;
and that which seemed to stand strong
suddenly falls and sinks in ruins.”
(Ovid, 43 BC–AD 17/18)
Contributions to SomethingDark
article: “The strange attraction of beauty and impermanence”; acrylic on canvas: Bitten
acrylic on canvas: Bite
acrylic on canvas: Crunch
acrylic on canvas: Scoop
acrylic on canvas: Crush
acrylic on canvas: Scratch; acrylic on canvas: Cityscape 1
acrylic on canvas: Hole
acrylic on canvas: Cityscape 2; acrylic on canvas: Cityscape 3
acrylic on canvas: Surgery; acrylic on canvas: Corner; acrylic on canvas: Still Life
acrylic on canvas: Exterminate
acrylic on canvas: Reach
Ros Paton interview: “Twenty-five years exploring the built environment’s mortality”
limited-edition digital print: Vulnerable Verandah
limited-edition digital print: Scooped Up
collage (acrylic paint & mixed media on board): Tidy Up 2
collage (acrylic paint & mixed media on board): Studio Demolition
acrylic paint, photographic collage & mixed media on canvas: Tidy Up 1; acrylic paint & photographic collage on board: Paradise Hotel
2009 Michael Vann, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
2005 Bruce Watling gallery, Gold Coast.
1995 Bruce Watling Gallery, Southport, Queensland, Australia.
1993 Dr David Grundman, Newcastle,Sydney & Brisbane, Australia.
1985 Phillipo Allegra,Galleria Allegra, Firenze, Italy.
1985 “Getting it Together”, Canberra youth Arts Festival. Lecture room, Canberra School of Art, August 1985.