Sometimes you just have to get out. At least I do, I need to get out, away from here. It never matters where 'here' is, I just have to get away. When Tim was young, we would go for drives out into the country side. We were lucky, we stumbled upon the town of Acland. It was unusual, it was empty. There clearly had been a town and clearly that was not so long ago. Remnants of the town’s inhabitants were evident in the cement slabs left behind and the gardens still defining the boundaries of each block. Absent, the houses and inhabitants.
But what does it mean to paint?
Painting is a means to being; to listening to country. The process gives focus to a meditation on being there. It allows the 'Pneuma' to inflate or feed creativity and being.
In the context of art practice, 'pneuma' can refer to various concepts and interpretations. In ancient Greek philosophy, 'pneuma' referred to the breath of life, or the vital spirit that animated living beings.
'Pneuma', can be seen as the vital energy that animates the artist's creative process. The artist may draw inspiration from the natural world, from the rhythms of the body, or from spiritual sources. This energy is channeled into their artwork. This can be seen in the work of artists who prioritize the process over the final product, and who seek to capture the fleeting, ephemeral qualities of life.
For Tim and I it was a playground. We found a tree house in disrepair so we went about adding extensions. We would bring timber out to the house, replace some rotten wood, build supports, increase the overall floor space. Tim was maybe, 3 or 4 and he was about venture to from training wheels to two wheels. I knew he was ready, so out to Acland we went and off he took on his two wheels down the empty streets where so many must have done the same, not so long ago.
Tim and I would return to Acland as often as we could, sometimes two or three times a month, sometimes every two or three months. We would camp out there thanks to our gracious host Glen Beutel, the only resident who had chosen to stay and not sell his family's properties to the mining company.
More often, I returned to Acland to paint; after work in the winter as the sun was going down. I then began to paint along the highway around Gowrie, venturing up the backroads and out into the paddocks.
This work ‘Acland's Gardens, Studies in Pneuma’, is just that. Studies through drawing and painting into what I perceive to be Pneuma.
Pneuma is a Greek word which has its phenomenal roots in the wind or breath. It is to experience transcendence through the sensation of the world moving around us and through us, as if we were swept up by its breath and held aloft.
It is not uncommon for people to seek out 'pneuma'. The 'great outdoors', draws us into its body to experience its breathing. Without knowing why, we place ourselves there just to be filled. Creativity needs to be fed and the source of that nourishment is Pneuma.
The philosopher Martin Heidegger used the concept of 'pneuma' to express his ideas about the importance of authenticity and the search for meaning in our lives. Heidegger believed that by tapping into the vital energy of the 'pneuma,' we can connect with our deepest selves and discover our own unique path in life.
On the Road to Acland/Sky and Earth
Over the last three/four years I have been part of a project called ‘Tainted Landscapes’, with two other artists Chris Fletcher and Michael Pospischil. This work concerned itself with landscapes in transformation, upheaval and turmoil. The project was exhibited in four regional galleries over four years.
It is my intention for this next body of work to concern itself more strongly with the spiritual and familial connection I have with the land. About my process as a process of listening to country. While all my paintings have had this quality about them,earlier exhibitions have been framed within a harsher more political context. It is my intention to reframe this work along with new work and allow it to breath.
The road wonders through a hidden mountain, the light falls softly through the haze of searing heat, the land beats heavy with the memory of recent rain. Out spilled the moment like the incarnation of a day dream. I was gone and the present climaxed as a green leaf bent itself towards the sun repeating a timeless action to continue on. Pneuma/breath .