Before I left Argentina the infamous Zonder wind arrived blowing everyone into a touchy mood. Then intense rainbows were seen with massive rains for a few days and finally a snowstorm that covered La Consulta with a pretty fluffy white coat. Finally a few busy days in Buenos Aires with Carolina then over the Pacific I flew once again to Australia. My exhibition ‘Finding yourself lost in Melbourne’ at William Mora gallery (www.moragalleries.com.au) was opened by Rupert Myer and attended by a cocktail of characters. The opening night was fun, busy and gaudy and my hangover the next day was exactly the opposite. The hometown was chilly but warm with many people I wanted to catch up with. Never enough time to do so unfortunately.
It seems that next year I shall be spending a large chunk of time in Antarctica as the Australian Antarctic Division has granted me a unique Art Fellowship that takes me back to the Ice for winter. To my knowledge no contemporary artist has set up a studio over the dark part of the year when Antarctic stations turn into tiny pockets of life not unlike space stations. This will be a demanding residency logistically, socially, emotionally and physically but I have been preparing for this project for some years. Which station I settle into is yet to be decided but I will be working in a very bizarre blizzard swept studio under the striking Aurora Australis electro-magnetic storms far south of Tasmania.
After Melbourne a pit stop in Perth was needed where I spent 5 hours completing a psychological adaptability examination attempting to gauge whether I can survive an Antarctic winter without going gaga. Gaga is the technical term for combing your beard with a fork and singing Abba songs in a loud bass voice whilst eating Penguin pie. A full medical was also required to secure my trip back to Antarctica. Visits to the Art Gallery of West Australia, the café strip in Fremantle and the great Kings Park reminded me that Perth is a pretty fine city but I was keen to get into a studio so I flew north to the Broome Studio where I began painting almost immediately. In early August Broome's Short Street Gallery showed a body of my work that covered much geography and my interest in place versus space.
If familiarity and time are required to make space a place as the geographer Yi Fu Tuan states then my rapid movement across massive chunks of geography lands me permanently in space. Not a bad location for a landscape abstractionist as each painting operates as a unique space. Landscape painting is a visual space where the relationship to actual topography is fluid and cerebral. In this de-territorialized space I spend a lot of time. These spaces or works of art shown were all gleaned from experiences on the road or sea with deliberate chaos and confusion in the work. I mixed shapes seen in Portuguese ruins situated in Macau with colours from the Mongolian flag or views of Antarctica with Persian miniatures. Toys, rotten teeth, rainbows, reindeer antlers and an Egyptian mummy pillow all find themselves abruptly relocated without reason. Things were uprooted in order to mix visually with elements replanted from somewhere else. The only rule was that all must sit happily together in the space of each painting. Everywhere, somewhere or wherever holiday together in these tiny detours. Stars and beasts meander through the works creating small souvenirs from everysomewherever.
It has been said before but making art does resemble life a little. Things get changed and rearranged, sorted and then changed again. All the elements are out there, then they move or adapt to another form. Nothing is ever totally destroyed. Even artwork trashed, burnt and painted over still floats about as a concept currently not needed. Liquid turns to solid, ideas turn into paintings. Movement pretends to sleep. Creating art distills life, packets experience and attempts to put things in perspective but there are infinite views and no one spot to stand to get that perfect image. What views I will devour next Antarctic winter are yet to be seen but before that trip I should definitely stock up on warmth and tropical fruit.
© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.