Friday, August 1, 2014

A 'Pastiche' of Materials

Pastiche (noun) - An artistic work consisting of a medley of pieces taken from various sources

Many visitors to my studio inquire about the vast array of materials used in my paintings. As mentioned briefly in my last post, materials used in my paintings incorporate a collection of vintage Japanese fabrics, wallpapers and metallic leaf and foil; combined onto the canvas with screen printed patterns, paint and encaustic wax.

Precious obi and kimono fragments included in these works have been hand selected from travels to Asian markets and antique bazaars. There is nothing quite like rummaging through a box of second hand material at a Japanese Shrine Sale. It is not uncommon for me to return to Australia with 'excess baggage'.... nothing to do with personal objects or souvenirs, instead, bags of materials that I simply couldn't leave behind!

What was considered absolute 'trash' to the previous owner evokes excitement and inspiration within me as I imagine this precious off-cut incorporated into a new painting. The definition of 'Wabi-Sabi' definitely applies to this aspect of my art making. Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent and incomplete". Fragments of what was once a complete piece of fabric capture snippets of the world of their former glory. Another Japanese concept "Kintsukuroi" hold a similar value. Kintsukuroi is the art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer. It is understood that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. The beautiful and rare treasures that I collect on my travels ignite a fascination of a time when life was perhaps more simple than in this modern day. These fabrics in themselves spark a sense of Yūgen. (a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe)

In memory of my Grandmother

On a more personal note, vintage wallpapers and other elements are also included to represent the influence of my dear grandmother. Even into her 100th year, grandmother saw beauty and the positive in absolutely everyone and everything she experienced. Her abundant garden appeared to respond as she would peer into the face of her beloved flowers and remark on their beauty.

As a child I would be swept away with the beauty of both Grandmother’s garden, and also her presence. I often wondered why grandmother didn’t appear to be overwhelmed by the stresses and struggles of this modern day. Perhaps it was because she did indeed come from a much simpler time (even before electricity) or maybe as the years passed she recognised the futility of being drawn into the anxiety and fear that is perpetuated through the minds of others. Instead Grandmother exhibited patience and grace. She appeared to hold a silent wisdom of what was important and what would bring balance and harmony. While being of this world, she preferred to sit and observe small plants grow and the seasons pass.

The wisdom I have gleaned from both my observation of my grandmother and a study of the ancient arts of Japan, is a reminder to hold a perception of the 'bigger picture' with me always. For me this is a meditation in opening and expanding my perception of life as a whole; to sense separate individuals as a 'one', and to know of the vibrational connection running through the entire universe.