When The Dead Heart Beats
That’s the title of the art show that I am a part of in a few weeks. I’ve organised it with my good friend Murdoch and he and I will be both showing our latest creations. It’s going to be at Nine Lives Gallery in Winn St, Fortitude Valley.
While the show has not been a long time in the making, some of the ideas have. Around sometime in October 2009 Murdoch asked if I’d want to work on something together with him. I couldn’t get the words “hell yeah” out of my mouth fast enough. Murdoch is an amazing artist in his own right and has shown overseas as well as several times in Brisbane. His subject matter can often be macabre, though I wouldn’t pigeon hole him to just that. Either way I really admire what he does with a fist full of pens and paper. We spent some time tossing around ideas and in the middle of last year I started the woodcut below. The image originated from Murdoch’s hands and I adapted it as a woodcut. I didn’t tell Murdoch at the time that I was also taking the image from A3 size to what you see below.
Needless to say, It’s taken me seven months of carving the triptych image. Another month of printing and then the last three months of hemming and preparation to get my edition of three finished. As you can see the prints are on linen cloth instead of rag paper. One, because I couldn’t really afford the paper and secondly, I really, really couldn’t afford the framing. I’m happy with how they turned out and I’ve adapted the prints into scrolls so that they can be easily stored when not hung on display (or draped up in my lounge-room).
Murdoch is stoked on the outcome too. It pretty much is the center-piece of our show together and by far the largest woodcut I’ve tried my hand at to date. I put myself in the photo just so there was no confusion on scale.
And so while this was going on last year, I also turned my attention away from the subject matter of birds and animals and antiquated artifacts of technology and created some war-related prints. As with most things, one thing led to another, one Goya book turns into another Otto Dix book, turns into a Sandow Birk series of prints about Iraq and so forth.
I found it really hard last year to sit a table for days and carve out of the block, the face of a murdered person. Someone who I couldn’t know if they were innocent or guilty, right or wrong. From all this the challenge of late has not been the beautification of my work or the level of detail in its execution. My goals have been to articulate the things that troubled my mind. The inspiration that didn’t make sense. I tried not to overthink things but eventually the themes of violence, murder, suicide, nightmares, loss and even just the idea of belief came to encompass the last six months of work.
None of it in my mind is gory or particularly graphic. That’s not where my interest lies. It’s all interpretative to an extent. I have to admit that it has also been rewarding.
And so in a few weeks time Murdoch and I will get to show all our friends what we’ve been up to. The last time I had a show, a lady told the gallery owner that some of my images were repugnant and shouldn’t be hanging on public walls. I liked that, I liked that something I wanted to say illicited such a strong response.