Silence of the Lands - our exhibition

Our exhibition at Fat Tuesday ... for the third year in a row, has again been a wonderful success and a tremendously all-round enjoyable affair.

Shannon from Fat Tuesday is phenomenal in her treatment of both artists and guests .... we are truly and most sincerely grateful for all she does!!! Shannon ... you're a trend-setter in every regard :-)

You can login here to see more photos of the exhibition opening and walkabout.

Also, Estelle Hudson did a BRILLIANT walkabout last Saturday .... her insights are remarkable.  Below is a transcript for you to read:

Walkabout for Silence of the Land

My brief from the artists is to look at their art from a psychological point of view and a dream perspective.  What this tells us is that  they are very aware that the whole exercise of painting this body of work, has been about .....more than surface.

In order to honour this request, I have interviewed the artists separately and studied their paintings and with them reflected on the process, which has been about struggle, frustration, resistance until resolution , and this exhibition is evidence of that.  The one and a  half hours given to each artist to do this has been for me a real privilege and now i have the awesome task of communicating some of the richness of these conversations in the walkabout .

The unique feature about this exhibition is the task the artists set themselves.

They agreed on the subject of landscapes, they agreed that each artists would bring a reference and all four would respond to the same reference with their own interpretation .  (more about this later)

I have chosen to use some Narrative therapy principles in this conversation.

Narrative therapy  is sometimes known as re-authoring conversations, conversation between therapist and storyteller. These stories consist of two principles ,  The Landscape of Action and the Landscape of Identity. 

The  landscape of action  includes  the event that takes place, linked in sequence across time,  past, present and future  what happens, where does it happen, how does it happen.

The landscape of Identity is about the meaning we give to those events, and how it informs and shapes our lives. Because my brief is about exploring the psychological dimension and dream perspective I ask the kinds of  questions about  the journey  each artist has made in this exploration of the soul,  the psyche, the journey inward, and relate it to these two landscapes.

Marie Louise von Franzen  in talking about The Jacob Ladder dream  and Jacob's acknowledgement that the land was a sacred place,  says, 'it touches a mystery we haven't yet been able to solve....

She says: we project our souls into the landscape and every soul and every nation has such a geography.'

(The Way of the Dream, page 86)

From Harold Voigt:

At another level, the word silence makes one think of music and of those intervals without which music could not exist.  The notion that colour, line shape and texture, like music, constitute an inherent langauge, even if not in the service of representational content, goes back to Kadinsky and Klee.  Voigt associated his paintings more with silence than with music and makes it clear that they are intended to direct the viewer inward...the works are vehicles for contemplation and meditation.  They create space for the viewer's spiritual activity.  (page 88)

Both Von Franzen and Voigt give recognition of the growing awareness to the emergence of the area of the influence of inner experience.

.....and so it is with dreams.  We honour the dreams when we take responsibility for listening and following through with the guidance the Unconscious imparts through dreams, when we take time to reflect on the dream. We reflect on the paintings as if they are dreams.

The Artists cannot work on a body of work for a period of time without being influenced, guided and informed by their creations and respond to the landscape they have painted.  Marie Louis Von Franzen says we project our souls into the landscape, therefore the painting is an entering into a space where the language of dreams apply.

My next few comments are directed at the collective experiences of the artists . 

They talk about the frustration, the sense of dissonance in trying to interpret another's image.  After all any decision to paint something is usually because there is an emotional response to the subject.  The landscape of action is the event of painting what is not your choice. They experienced over time a going back into past, childhood memories,  some traumatic, a strong resistance or a quick response to the soul of the other through the image.  Confronted by this event, the blank canvas and another's image, was to somehow take ownership of it. In dreams we are confronted by images and symbols and it is only when we take ownership of these symbols, recognize ourselves in the symbol or image that revelation happens, transformation occurs.

So, with the artists, once they got over that first hurdle they took off and for some the other's image became their favorite painting.  It was interesting what some did with the blank canvas before starting.....attacked it with scratches, taking away pristine surface, stained it with brown colour, or gave it a total wash with red, then started  the process of washing it with cool colours to push  or bring forward, this act includes being willing to lose control in order to become spontaneous, listen to intuition, to listen to whatever emerges as a result of the above.

When it came to colour each artist makes her choice and it becomes an expression of her landscape of identity, the meaning that  has emerged out of the landscape of action,  that place of the DOING of the painting.

For Ana it was red. She starts with a red canvas and Joan's comment that Ana's paintings bleed is very insightful.  Red is about pain, the grief of loss of a brother as a young child and how painting helped her resolve this. Red is about passion, maybe her Portuguese origins explains this. She says I have to listen to my gut, allow the unconscious to speak, intuition plays a large part in my art.

For Maggie it is phalo turquoise - a new colour for her and speaks to her about water, A symbol of the unconscious. "This colour has taken me to places where I would not normally have gone, an experience which has been hugely rewarding ", she says. When Maggie and I do our Paint Your Dreams workshop we encourage participants to express their feelings in colour.  Here Maggie does likewise, feelings of the unknown below the surface, the bonding of the four artists and the level of trust and honesty become luminous in this colour.

For Joan her colour is black  - there is a strength about this colour, it defines and emphasizes, SO contrary to the way she dresses. Her students freak out when she wears black, but in her art, black becomes the language of an identity that is unique, a celebration of life, "a visual equivalent of my story,"she says.

For Lara her colour is holds the richness of the land, the silence. As a child she played with mud and collected bottles of different coloured sands,  her identity is found in the solitude, the simplicity of the earth and the strength of being ordinary.  She uses this colour as the symbol of the land, she says 'I am the land and my surrender to the vastness and to the smallness gives me my identity. '  All her landscapes from the smallest size to larger sizes express vastness and distance and the the need to be a pilgrim, willing to travel the unknown.

Their choice of their favorite painting was also revealing.

Sometimes it was the one they had the most difficulty with, sometimes it was the one that just painted itself.....

But the profound experience that resulted from the painting left me, yet again, awed by an Unconscious which cuts through murkiness into clarity.

One of the images was a blue, wood and iron house.  The artists interpreted this image in their a own unique way.  Lara, however, could not find peace with her painting, until she  put it in the far distance , giving it a place of almost insignificance.  In our reflection on this she explained to me that she identified the house as a structure in her life, which is policy driven, restrictive, risk aversive and playing a dominant part . In Narrative we often identify a problem as the dominant story. Our work together is to look at the multi-storied nature of life and to detox, if you like, the dominant story which has become problematic.  This is what Lara did in her painting...she put this dominant story , the symbol of the blue house to her, within the context of the multi-storied nature of her life, recognizing and privileging the other facets that make up her life which she chooses to celebrate and voila.....a clear, moment of insight about giving something mistaken importance at the cost of other stories that give her meaning and identity.

Maggie's painting was suddenly transformed by her new colour to which she adds her footprint, leaving her footprint and all that implies for the future.

Joan has a moment of feeling overwhelmed by the tree with leaves until she introduces swallows and the swirling, circling symbols of life bring grace and light where frustration dominated before.

Ana's painting is an unknown tree which she suddenly identifies as the Pigeonwood, a tree known to be a quick grower, but sheltering and nurturing the new seedlings until they are ready to stand on their own.  Her own nurturing maternal instinct is confirmed in this moment.  This is highly significant given the latest information....!

With this body of work which is the expression of symbols given substance and made flesh...we return to the title of the exhibition

The Silence of the Lands

and in the words of Frederich Von Hugel:"Before all greatness be silent - in art, in music, in religion, ....silence".

There is a greatness about interior work and we honour this work for its willingness to be reflective of the inner, personal journey of the Artists. =



SECOND WALKABOUT BY Jeanette Gilks on Sat 29th June

Jeanette Gilks a respected Durban art teacher and Fiber artist conducted a walkabout from an 'artist's perspective'.

Jeanette’s vast knowledge of art history and contemporary art allows her to reach informed insights, revelations and connections about artists and their artwork. Her close association and her sharp wit  with her perceptions about the work on show even surpized us.

We'll post a transcript/video clip on U-Tube shortly.