© Stephen Eastaugh, 2018. All Rights Reserved.
Over the past two months I have been painting, sewing and editing/doodling with digital film under the sweet squawky noise of 100 or more fruit bats. An occasional visit into the studio by a large possum or a blue tongue lizard or sometimes even odder creatures like humans all dropped in to see what I was making. I have been in a focused studio mode for many weeks now but that was broken up by a small show at the Short St. Gallery bungalow.
EMERGENCY CRAFT was whipped together to display some new paintings and a selection of films. I also drank beer with many friends living in this remote Kimberly town who all kindly gave me feedback about my new film work.
In Broome I have contact with the Australian Aboriginal art world as I can meet the artists, see exhibitions, watch artists paint and hear artists talk about their images. In these remote regions this art all revolves around “country” “my country” “that country” “our country” - basically landscape derived from an innate relationship with a homeland and the specific regions of earth where each artist was born or grew up. The form of abstraction often used in contemporary Aboriginal art could be seen as an aerial view or perhaps an inner view of the spiritual/dreamtime world or both or just plain old emotional responses created in paint on canvas referring to a place loved and respected. It’s a fascinating and phenomenally successful contemporary art style that feeds off 40,000 years of a particularly hardy culture’s stories, designs and mark-making methods. Quite amazing. The best Aboriginal art in my view has that massive weight of history unlike my work that has only my life experiences to feed off but I do cover a lot of geography. My work is a bit like a suitcase crammed with a great deal of curiosity as there are no treasured stories relating to landscape passed down to me from elders.
I could compare what I do when I make art with a variety of Aboriginal artists and I can see a similar love towards landscape but my landscapes are far and wide, diverse and many. Often a number of locations are melded together in one work. I do have intense love of land but not to one location in particular which is why I often refer to myself as ‘geographically promiscuous.’
I have no spiritual world to mine for shapes, stories, or song lines but I do have respect for the land; in fact I have respect for the earth. Every single bit of it. My land or “country” is the earth and my optimistic cosmopolitan worldview is about as fuzzy as the dreamtime but it is a positive worldview that I feel strong about even if I often embellish it with healthy dabs of pessimism.
Hello Broome’s Shinju Matsuri festival, bye Broome, hello Melbourne. Hello St Kilda Bowling club on a warm grand Saturday night where I found friends, a naked guitarist, zombies, beer, a bbq, brilliant weather, a raucous urban, country and western feed-back band, wine, dumplings and many laughs. On my final walk home through the park 3 or 4 possums scratching about in the bushes accompanied me as I wobbled down the track. There was also the screeching noise of city ambulances and police cars on their way to mop up possibly far too much fun that had turned into far too much chaos.
Bye Melbourne and hello New Zealand! I dropped into Auckland for a few days and found what I thought was a smaller, cleaner version of Melbourne. Very multi-cultural with lashings of art to be found here and there but unlike Melbourne this city sits on top of numerous extinct volcano which all make up the topography of this region of NZ. Lush and VERY rich in both vegetation and culture.
Bye Auckland, Hello Santiago, Bye Santiago, Hello Mendoza.