Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tansit continued....

It sounds like you've just woken up to something Margot?
"After years of being interested in Jungian psychoanalysis, as an anlysand, a member of the Jungian society and a reader of his work, I've found something that moves on many more steps. So yes, I feel that I've woken from a long, helpless dream."
I look at her staring back at me.
"I joined Soka Gakkai International, a Buddhist group of 14 million people chanting twice a day, it's an amazing experience to be able to move into connection with the life force by chanting the Lotus Sutra and Nam Myoho Renge Kyo."
It must have altered your work a lot, maybe locked your mind down? I ask politely, thinking of cults and other brain washing institutions.
"On the contrary, I feel that the roof has lifted off my mind, I now feel able to range over huge universes without fear or falling. On a work level being able to push paint about in this new space is like a revelation.
I've joined a marvelous group of  people striving and chanting for the peace and enlightenment of everybody, to transcend ourselves, to completly understand the meaning of cause and effect. There is nothing onerous about the practise and it has had the most enormous effect on my life and those around me."
I can't argue with her quiet commitment so change the subject and wonder if she tries to make light of what she does?
"I think actions in the world should appear effortless, it gives things a beauty if you don't see the work behind. Painting is not therapy, it's not good for you to sit in a room alone day after day with the paint fumes but this is a whole new adventure, trying to paint into existence things that I was only half aware of until recently. There's so much more I want to put down now.
Transit is a gallop round my mind in concrete images, painted as I began chanting. Next comes the pathways, roads, tracks down which we gallop.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

More Transit

I comment that while the work might be painted well enough there is an aspect to it that is freakish and I wonder how many people would want it on their walls?
"Well that is always a problem" she says.
It just comes out automatically when I say what is the point then?
"The point is the desire to express things that drive women in their transit through this life, silent, non monetary forms of acheivement, like constancy, story and, myth telling, fury, overcoming disappointment, sadness, bravery, illness, awareness of everything existing all at once, motherhood, dancing."
"Yes, I think that's the shallow reason why I married a gay man, because he liked taking drugs and dancing too. Great dance music, great clubs, but that was all a while ago."
And now?
"Now, I've been grazing on such a lot of different ideas, ways of being, for so long that I'm a stange rag bag of tatty Christmas decorations. My idea of a day out is to go to the reading room of the British Library and order up books on anything I'm interested in. It's a pretty wild education.
Outdoors I'm on a long mission to visit the rock art sites across the top of Australia, paintings with a different sensibility in each area, painted for different reasons. there is a lot to be learned from these galleries, the Bradshaw group depicts joyful, leaping people, often without weapons and some obviously women/goddess figures. They are indicators of  a wonderful, now almost unknown part of us as modern humans, they had the time to depict themselves, to know who they were. There are still people painting in these far away places, thousands and thousands of years later. It's a great privilege to have been there and met some of them."
What are the drivers for you now?
"Well, I can't be bothered with show.
What really drives me is curiosity, the unknown, latterly the freedom to download what is in my mind, no matter what. It's something you do alone, an absolute comittment to expressing the life force in paint, good or bad."
I'm supposed to ask who's influenced you now?
"The painting influences are easy, Stanley Spencer who lived now far from here, the early American landscape painters, Gaughin, Rousseau, anybody doing paradise lost, found or mislaid."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Transit continued

I used to be a hippy in the Queensland rainforest and returned to visit recently, to a society outside the main, to a valley so lush it grows before you, the birds and snakes know no bounds. However it's a very small, contained paradise now, the acres of sugar cane fields that surrounded and protected it are covered in houses and people. I dream of it nearly every night as it was."
Walking around the studio I see a lot of odd fantastical female figrues riding on fairground horses. Women with fish in their hair, parrots coming out of their mouths, fish trapped in ice, a young girl taking a panther for a walk, a woman being chased by the wind.
I ask Margot if this is waht she sees when she's out in the bush? I'm laughing to myself about crazy artisits.
"While it's true that the Australian Indigenous people can see their ancestors walking about all I ever see out there is an odd unexpected perception of light. I think this is a question for quantaum physics in the future. These paintings are not country based, they're from my imagination."
She obviously thinks I'm combatative and shallow, so I ask her if she's trying to say something about women in general or if this series is a personal statement?
"I don't know if this applies to other women as well, I've been using the vehicle of the rider to make images of feelings, situations, change and place that I've experienced. If that chimes with other people I'd be very grateful."
"Yes, grateful that people might take some meaning, comfort, whatever. It would also mean that I'm not alone. Or crazy. Just a woman in transit."
Transit is the name of this exhibiton, an odd name for a series of paintings, it makes me think of a Sydney bus company.
Margot laughs and says "Transit along the path thru life, through situations, through experiences, through places, as more of ourselves becomes apparent. So I suppose we're all on the metaphorical bus. These horses and riders have broken free of the carousel and are off, still attached to heaven and earth and free to follow their own paths."
( more soon)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Transit of a painter

In which I interview myself

The question I had travelled so far to ask Margot was...."what is the underlying foundation of your work?"
A bit cheeky really as how was I to know that she had any foundation at all? That she didn't just jump from one project/idea to the next? She certainly wasn't milking one idea, cashing in on repeat performances of ancient success.
Looking at her work over the last thirty years you could see the recurring themes of still and silent bowls, hot dreamy Australian landscapes, ranks of unknowable trees, creatures of the night, human and otherwise, bizarre social situations and portraits.
Maybe you'd think of her as a leaden butterfly.
The studio is an old brick stable built on top of the river Misbourne in Bucks, giving new meaning to that old hippy expression 'going with the flow'.
As we talked a squirrel jumped on the roof, a vole ran past the door, a moorhen took a bath, a rambling rose grew an inch.
So far so ninteenth century bucolic, but the nature legging it round the gartden is a big influence on her work she says, "It's the life force visiting and I'm just part of it, I'm not painting it directly, I use it as acomfortable motor for my imagination."
We stare at the cabbages for a while.
"I can't work in a noisy, concrete place. I go to the north of Australia and stay for a couple of months at a time in remote places in the cheapest places I can find, without a vehicle, to see what happens. And look at ancient rock art galleries."
So what happens? "It's always marvelous and unexpected and memorable. Even for an adrenelin junkie like me the sunset up there is big theatre, you need to have your wits about you all the time and it's exciting to paint that. Ramping up the fear makes the light so much more vivid."
Her blue eyes are looking longingly inward at the Pacific and she continues "I come back to this building on the other side of the world, the cold side, to remember and paint the strange and unusual trees, bright birds, hot tropical pools. I've been infected by Australia for a long time now. The Oz virus."
Before we get too carried away I ask her why she paints Australia when she hasnt lived there for over twenty years?
"I have the bush always at the back of my mind as a paradise, a dream state that I can visit whenever I want, pull it out and examine it. It's something I've been doing since I went with my grandfather when I was sixteen and fell in love with Sydney, knowing I'd return."

to be continued