I am in my hometown of Melbourne in an old horse-stable/granny flat that is a bit chilly in the winter months but an excellent pad for all the preparations I need to attend to. The past weeks I have been wearing my ultra-social hat as there are many folks I must catch up with and reconnect with. I swap gossip, observations, hopes and ideas all in a flurry usually involving some social drinks.
Then I was in Sydney at the Contemporary Art Fair where I displayed some pearl shell work with Tim Klingender Fine Art. A massive art smorgasbord which made me mega-over indulge in art over a dizzy four-day period. I need a little rest now.
At the Art Gallery of New South Wales, I saw work from the artist Ian Fairweather who is highly regarded in the Australian art world and certainly an artist that I have always admired. He was fond of Indonesian Gamelan music just as I am. I was aware of some of his travels; especially the insane homemade raft journey he made from Darwin to Indonesia but I recently read that in 1928 that he made a trip in China to a particular place called Taishan. This is a sacred Taoist mountain in Shandong province with a monastery at the peak. Fairweather climbed the 7,200 stone steps and stayed the night as a storm hit the area. Surprisingly seventy-four years later in 2002 I did exactly the same thing. Climbing those same steps and staying one night but unlike Mr Fairweather I slept in a bivouac and not with the monks. I am sure our views were similar. Now over 6 million people make this mountain pilgrimage each year! In Chinese the word pilgrimage actually means – paying ones respect to a mountain- (simplified Chinese: 朝圣 ; traditional Chinese: 朝聖 ; pinyin: cháoshèng)
Speaking of height… As a young person I had no problem with heights for I could sit on a high cliff edge overlooking a massive void with absolutely no fear at all but now I am wary of such situations. Death seems closer and of course it does approach us whatever one does. Strangely I get a similar feeling of discomfort when I see animals in cages or fish confined in tanks, even if the aquarium is adorned with
colourful trinkets and sparkling fresh water. The feeling has something to do with pity but also a personal horror of being trapped. Imprisoned with limited space to move about is akin to hell for a nomadic character like myself. Acrophobia (fear of heights) or Basophobia (fear of falling) could be seen as the fear of too much space while observing caged creatures gives me a kind of Claustrophobia (fear of
small spaces) or Carcerophobia (fear of jail) a fear of too little space. Too much or too little? Which is worse? We all need just the right amount. Just like Goldilocks. Let’s hope for something in the middle. Not too big and not too small.
I survived social Sydney and returned south where I was up on the wall at NKN gallery in Melbourne (www.nkngallery.com) for my third show with this gallery.
“Several series within this exhibition have been made using pearl shells as a base, so that a poetic connection to the ocean is made. Inevitably, the dreamlike romance, history and mythology of the sea is
evoked for the viewer, even before she or he begins to decipher the imagery etched upon the beautiful natural forms. The scraped and blackened lines may suggest ethnographic pictograms, or historic
scrimshaw work, but we are entirely in Eastaugh’s universe, with its own order.” Steve Cox
I have been awarded a grant from the Australian Arts Council that will permit me to go to sea once again to paddle about areas of the Mare Liberum. This maritime project titled - UNANCHORED WORLD will place myself and film maker Malcolm McKinnon on a large cargo container vessel heading to SE Asia. We will depart Australia sometime in 2018 over the Indian Ocean as part of a wet residency as opposed to a dry or land art residency. Before we embark on this voyage I shall head to Amsterdam for my next solo show. I should stay still for one minute and play some relaxing gamelan music but that seems to be almost impossible for me.
© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.