The main thought I've been obsessed with is my relationship with the images I'm producing. Am I depicting the landscape or am I creating gardens ? Do the pictures become gardens once I compose the image from a rough thought in my mind ? What am I doing to the landscape in effect is taming it. To treat the image like a gardener trimming trees and pruning nature.
Many years ago, I wanted to get close to the landscape and experience nature up close. I travelled to Castlemaine to take photos and try spend some time in the bush. I drove up a dirt track and was literally freaking out constantly thinking that the forks in the track all seemed the same and for sure I'd get lost. I stopped the car and got out to take some photos. The sounds of dragonflies and whatever animals around me gave the willies. Feeing vulnerable and a fish out of water, I quickly got back in the car and took pics from my open window. I thought to myself, this landscape scares me. I don't like being amidst it at all. Snakes, weird noises and an alien place for me, I just think I have no business being in it.
Years ago on a University camp trip we went to the Grampians National Forest, Dunkeld to be precise. Mt Abrupt is an awesome sight I must say. I do remember at that time my relationship to the landscape was much more welcoming. I even stayed at the camp fire all alone for a couple of hours in the pitch blackness of night. I remember feeling a bit scared, but convinced myself to stick it out and just take in the vision of the fire and the shimmering shadows flickering on the surrounding forest of massive trees. Sometimes I got anxious and closed my eyes and lay down. The show of light was playing tricks and the shadows changed shapes rapidly. Light and strange sounds can be overwhelming.
So, where am I going with what I'm saying here ? Well, I sure I don't have a good feeling about the landscape from being in it. I can appreciate and love looking at it from a distance of a city or suburbia. Even more so from a picture from a book or the web. The landscape for me is a dangerous place. It's harse and full of animals that I perceive to be dangerous. I don't like the idea of walking through long grass. The word "snake" invades my mind immediately.
On looking at the work I've produced over the years until now, I see a pattern of depicting the landscape as a contained space. The figures around the trees and sky even though often turbulent, are more wild and frenzied. The landscape looks more like a controlled garden. The trees too evolve into bio morphic beings, but are tamed in a way a gardener would trim a thorny wild shrub or bush.
And yet the world I create resonates a kind of danger or a view of the scene as an alien place. Sometimes the figures inhabiting the new landscape seem like explorers arriving on the scene. But mostly, the figures are in twisted movements, like blobs being pulled and about to explode in various directions. The new explorers of this new world depicted have to be courageous and display elements of being able to change rapidly to the wild surrounds. Like a chameleon that changes color if threatened, the figures sometimes human-like or beast change shape in response to either fear or a negative foreboding. Maybe harbinger is a good way to describe it ?
But at the same time, you can imagine the scene as a meeting place. The figures displaying characteristics of a kind of attention seeking show. Like birds showing-off to impress a possible mate. Is it a place for a sexual encounter ?
Is that idea possibly someone's relationship to a landscape ? For me, that idea is an alien one. But I'm sure others may differ and offer the opinion that the landscape is a place for secret business and sex acts. For some the landscape is a place to end a precious life or bury the evidence or a fresh dead body.
The new small series from last night are are good example. My relationship to the landscape is clear to see. I've shaped it and controlled the trees and the figures under the trees on either side are hanging around in strange positions. Why they are there can be left to the viewer to ponder without me spelling it out. Each viewer can assess their relationship to the landscape either in the individual picture or as a universal idea.