natural cycle of growth, decay and death. We are all in the process of returning to dust.
I think we, as modern western consumers, are drawn to wabi-sabi without realising why. Why do we love old European towns with little cobblestone streets and crumbling plaster and brickwork? Wabi-sabi is an old car left in the countryside to rust, an abandoned building, or the magic of a well-cared-for but worn antique.
“Waste, decay, elimination need not be condemned: they are necessary consequences of life, of the growth of life. The phenomenon of decadence is as necessary as any increase and advance of life: one is in no position to abolish it. Reason demands, on the contrary, that we do justice to it”.3
I have strong convictions that the most personal statements can transcend the personal to become universal. Rather than look at ideas motivated by current affairs I am now concerned with finding a universal truth through my own personal expression.
Artists have explored the nature of the ruin, ruined monuments and the picturesque ruin for centuries. As far back as 1740, Piranesi was depicting real and imagined monumental Roman ruins in a style that not only celebrated the architectural achievements of ancient Rome, but
also their subsequent decay. Joseph Gandy in the 1800s made a series of works based on the Bank of England as a demolished ruin.
Although I have been painting notions of the built environment in various degrees of transience, it is only in the last few years I have started to understand why it holds such an appeal for me. As the city is my primary landscape, how I identify myself in my surroundings is through that environment. It is perhaps no surprise that I find the city and the idea of contemporary ruin an apt metaphor for the impermanence of my own existence.
After graduating I travelled through Europe and spent about a year in Firenze. Until then, I had predominantly lived in Canberra, which is a new, almost fully designed post-modern city. Australia itself has an architectural tradition dating back a little over two hundred years.
It was during these early travels that I discovered my attraction to the depiction of architecture as a vehicle for giving form to ephemeral notions of beauty, age and use. The sheer age of everything around me in Italy affected me intensely: I was absorbed, and thought of how many feet must have travelled along the same alleyway I was walking, and of what eyes must have seen exactly that same corner or doorway.