Over the past year I’ve been working on a very exciting new project that has taken me out of my own studio and into a collaboration with the very talented ceramic artist, Linda Detoma. Together we are in the process of completing a body of 30 individual ceramic panels as part of a new development at the Eltham Cemetery. Construction on the “Grevillea Memorial” has already begun with the creation of a 50 meter stone embankment crafted by local stonemason Leigh Wykes and the erection of a rusted steel balustrade along the length of the stone wall. The ceramic panels that Linda and I are in the process of completing will be positioned along this balustrade above individual burial sites. Linda has carefully handcrafted a set of 15 clay tiles which will then make up each 70cm x 60cm panel. She is assisting me in translating my designs onto the tiles through a combination of glazes, lusters and
Hand made tiles
Imagery on these panels depict a multi-layering of local historic photographs and native floral images, which are indigenous to this area, arranged in a design that embodies cultural significance and interest. It is our intention that the panels emit a calming and peaceful influence allowing the viewer to quietly contemplate the imagery on the panels as well as reflect on his or her own layers of story and memories. The works also engage the audience in a celebration of this unique and fascinating shire of Nillumbik.
It’s an absolute honour to have been invited to design these panels as Eltham and its surrounds has been my home for as long as I can recall. It is fascinating to ponder on what life would have been like over the last 150+ years since the Eltham Cemetery opened. From fire to flood, from gold mining to wheat harvesting, from the horse and cart to the motor car, and from the Shillinglaw Cottage to Montsalvat, these photographs offers us today a connection with our past. Local historical imagery allow us to contemplate the myriad of both meaningful and colourful tales that our dearly departed forefathers would have perhaps told. I am also incorporating images of local current day subjects into some of the panels and therefore giving this generation a connection to their own stories too. Those living in or familiar with Eltham will have their own memories of Montsalvat, trips out to the Kangaroo Ground Memorial Tower and rides on the infamous ‘Miniature Railway’. I’m also thoroughly enjoying interviewing a number of elders and individuals in the Shire with a fascinating story to tell.
Local historic photographs for possible use within the panels. Images thanks to the Eltham Historical Society and the Eltham Library
The use of indigenous flowers in the designs for the Grevillea Memorial symbolically reconnects us with our local area. Native wildflowers and foliage also represent the beauty of the natural world around us. The little jewels that seem to miraculously arrive from the invisible and for often a relatively short period of time gift humanity with their physical beauty. To witness the life of a flower – from a small shoot, to then bud, flower and over time the wilting and falling of that flower, allows us to reflect upon our own life span and the life cycles of every physical form on the planet. Local species reconnects us to our area without any reference to a particular decade or period. A chocolate lily remains a chocolate lily regardless of the invention of electricity, the motor car and bitumen roads which have physically changed the landscape of the area over recent centuries. A gum tree remains a gum tree over the passage of time yet due to its long lifespan can be perceived as a silent witness to the changing environment around us.
A selection of photographs of local flora that I have taken for reference for the project.
The project is expected to be finished in mid 2017, so I’ll keep you updated as to the grand opening!!!
From the Studio...
Motherhood and Creativity
When I had my little one a year and a half ago, I somewhat naively imagined that I would be able to simply strap him to my front and keep on painting. This huge shift from how life was, to a completely new reality is of course nothing new for all mums out there, but no matter how many times I was told, I still thought, 'how hard can it be??' While I was able to take Miró to the studio and paint while he slept, I was only getting 20 minutes of painting done at a time. Not so handy when a huge '20 painting' exhibition is looming on the calendar! Thankfully my beautiful mum and dad were able to help and as my studio is on the same land as their home, I was able to then get two hour painting sessions completed between feeds. For this I will be ever grateful.
Early days with baby Miró in the Studio
While Miró is my most precious of creation to date, painting to me is like food for the soul and a necessary life activity for survival. The blessing of a small person finely tunes the awareness of the important balance between creativity and other daily activities.
Now that Miró is walking and beginning to explore he loves to join me in the studio to create his own artwork or explore the surrounding bush land. I'm glad that this little one is being exposed to the necessary element of creativity in all of our lives.