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

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