Posts Tagged ‘rover thomas’

Rover Thomas in the desert making art that is of the earth, simple, iconic masterpieces, representing deeply the land he was, he not separate, but a part of a whole intimately felt universe.  Traveling overhead in planes, peering from tiny windows many times over the years, looking down into the land of Australia, seeing the red earth in a different way, became the first step for me to see life differently.  To stop trying to see the earth with only one sense, the eyes, in a two dimensional pictorial way.

Night Dance
Night Dance

Lying on thick dewy grass in the night, looking up into the velvety blackness, light twinkling from distant planets and stars, but part of it, in it, not separate and observing, but deeply within the great night sky, deeply held by the deep dark earth.  How to express this inner knowledge of life.  Maybe the ancients have always expressed this and it is we who are now the primitive ones.  Modernization and technology seem to have ultimately divided us from each other, our voracious consumerism has meant we are neglecting the earth, and our knowledge comes from others, not ourselves who have separated our senses from their essential connectivity.  We are often alone with only the companions of things that have no life.

Man and Woman in the field
Man and Woman in the field
Dance
Dance

For months I have been in my studio drawing, trying to feel the earth, be the earth.  I have scoured books of ancient art including the art of our Australian aboriginals, sinking into their work, meditating on it, trying to redraw in my own way their sense of the world, because instinctively I know they are deeply connected to all of life and I, too, want to belong.

Dance
Dance

My sculptures have been going this way for years, looking for the elemental, the spiritual essence of the human being.   My drawings have lagged behind, perhaps out of habit in the way I see two dimensionally, I have seen only pictorially with that one visual sense and not all.  My challenge was to ‘become’ everything I was trying to express.  Recently, I put big slabs of paper on the floor and crawled all over them, black everywhere, a mess, losing perspective.  Out of it came the message of Rover Thomas.  I have been shamelessly influenced by him and so grateful.  I have fallen in love with the rich earth colours that are here just the same in Italy.  I feel the earth colour in my whole being, I can smell in its dark smoky browns its woodiness, its mustiness, in the reds I feel the abundant bloody fertility, in the ochres I feel the sun and warmth and light.  I have let my figures fall on the paper, anywhere.  The spaces between them as vibrant as their own energy that is part of the sky and part of the earth.

Woman
Woman

Some of these drawings and sculptures were in an exhibition recently at La Rondine Gallery along with the photos and sculptures of Sarah Danays.

Woman
Woman
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Shona writing her blog outside on the balcony of her hut

We left Australia two days ago.  Today we are sitting on the verandah of a little bamboo hut, wind sifting through the leaves of the giant banyan tree in whose elegant web of roots we nestle.  The waves are lapping insistently on the sand and children are running and laughing, in the distance some awful tune is playing from gigantic speakers at a local children’s fun sports day on the beach.  We are on Koh Pu, an island off southern Thailand, staying at Luboa Hut for one precious week.

In the roots of the Banyan tree

Australia is huge.  We had the good fortune to take a day flight whose path took us over the Simpson desert and Cooper Pedy, Uluru and the Olgas and on through to Derby before the red earth bled into the turquoise waters of the Timor Sea.  Peering down onto this great lonely desert we were reminded of aboriginal paintings, paintings like maps defining water holes and stretches of land in varying red and ochre, of the great salt lakes, their white fat fingers stretching greedily, around them circles of ghostly white rising, of the lines of rivers dotted with trees and their tributaries and distributaries fanning in and out, full of water and glistening in the sun, life veins in this country now in wet season.

Hills of Durham, Rover Country by Rover Thomas (Art Gallery, NSW)

Rover Thomas in the dust under a boab tree in the Kimberlies.  I have an image of him there in his own quiet, earthy space, painting his land, a little away from the rest of the community, but part of them all nonetheless, every so often getting up to go walk-about, feeling the land, being the land, honouring the waterholes and their great spirits, throwing a stone in the water when he arrives to let them know he had arrived and washing his hands when he leaves so not to take their spirits with him.  His paintings, the land, beautiful empty canvases of burnt siena and ochre, defined and pure, is-ness, being.

Ngarin Janu Country by Rover Thomas (Art Gallery NSW)

Artists need to be a little separate from their communities.  They need to stand outside and look in, perceiving the inner-ness of their people, breaking the ground that needs to be broken, not for fashion’s sake, but because things are old and stale and life needs to be looked at anew.  The artist as a commodity.  These are todays trends.  Artists engaged in making themselves a public entity, marketing and selling out.  Feeding the galleries and the public what they want.  Their spiritual role broken.  They could be designers in any field where once they stood alone, a store house of ideas for all the design fields, now just a celebrity, a fashion icon, here and gone in a minute, no longer timeless.

The dilemma of the artist.  Here we are, on this little island in the Andaman Sea, a space between lives, a space to think about ourselves and our work.  Nothing to do for a week.  We walk on the sand and swim in the sea, all day.  We wonder at the emptiness of our thoughts.  Nothing to complain about but a hard bed.  We wake in the morning a bit cricked.  But then we eat a luscious breakfast reclining on pillows at a low table and then we walk along the sandy bay dipping in the water and lying in the hot sand and walking and dipping in again.  Any attempt at serious talk leaves the other looking dazed.  Maybe it just has to be till we have emptied out the old and ready soon for the new.

Koh Pu
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