Monday, August 30, 2010

Fucshia bark, compost & waters I have known

Yesterday's hours in the studio took me through a state of scratchy, unwelcome irascibility towards calm. I'm working on a series of composite paintings whose title for now, is Waters I have known. Each piece contains eleven images that I hope will allow you/me access to countless related landscapes, research layers, imaginative worlds... (I realized the other day - and this came as a complete surprise - that these paintings' compositions bear strong resemblance to the newly formatted Image pages on Google. It's odd how associations like these find their way into our work, regardless of whether we're conscious of it at the time, or not? I hope they - the paintings - will extend a similar invitation to enter, ponder, explore...)
This pic shows a detail from my 'document' on ice...

Despite the calm I found in the painting, I went to bed feeling wound up and woke this morning with my heart pounding and my fists clenched; puzzling encounters with sharp-toed dragons and foul-breathed monsters were features of last night's dreamscape. The dragons reminded me of the chameleons I befriended and tended as a child in South Africa, but the ones in my dream had metallic hides, reflective titanium plates unresponsive to either my pummeling or my tender touch.

Their monster companions were shaggy, their mussed-up pelts like fuschia bark that sloughed off them as they walked. They sauntered casually in the face of my indignation and - at one time - frank distress, browsing nonchalantly on frangipanis and pohutakawa leaves and leaving behind them steaming dung heaps as high as mountains. . . These were sweet-smelling intricately-engineered pats, apparently innocuous (apart from the volume!) and looking every bit like fertile garden compost artfully arranged by an architect. I could neither see around them nor climb up and over them (too slippery - no way to safely prop a ladder or get a sensible foothold)... and the muck was quivering, alive. It morphed into buildings, bridges, mountain ranges as I watched. It was teasing me, I think. Muck posing a challenge. A question. How do you reckon you're going to find your way over, under, around and through this little lot, eh?
Heaven alone knows.

Dreams seem to be a particularly vivid experience for many of us these days... we seem to need to recall them, want to write about them, to lay their content out as evidence, a map, a series of questions. Do we have our own, uniquely personal dream language, our individual lexicon of symbols, or we do dream common dreams, our nets dipping into the same wellspring? Both? And so much more besides... ?

My dream radar's been oddly quiet these past few weeks. I was telling Penelope and Pam just yesterday that I've not remembered many dreams lately, although I wake often with achey shins, an indicator to me that I've walked miles of some description in my sleep.

Was it Salvador Dali who said 'When we are asleep in this world, we are awake in another?' Is it just our bodies that sleep - or that assume the pose of sleep? It seems to me that on some level or other we are always wide awake?

Ink & pencil on paper - sketch - CB
Where did your dreams take you last night?


  1. A common thread it would appear, dreams. Not instantly decipherable. And sometimes waking is not all that present or alert but still groggy or distracted, trying to undo the knots tied in that other state.

    Your waters series, from the ice piece you showed, speaks to me a mystical realms and the vastness of the element

  2. Hi Marylinn - our dreams are not instantly decipherable, no. The important threads seem to stay, though, don't they? And they recur/return when something's wanting to come through? I agree with you that waking isn't nec. alert. Just as sleeping isn't necessarily dormant or distracted... ? (I keep hopping over to your blog to read and re-read your latest entries but I haven't been able to find the words I want for my response, sorry... soon, I hope.)

    Thank you for seeing what you do in the ice images. You just made me happy! ; )

  3. I found your dreams interesting. And I wonder about dreams, there seems to be a serious message there, if we can only capture it. Like art.....

  4. I love sleeping just to enter dreams. I wonder though if the symbols in them can only be uncovered by ourselves. A fox to me can feel different than a fox to you. But I think what's important about the symbols is how they make you feel, how you react to them. That seems to be my path to unlocking what they mean to me.
    I wonder if what you are hoping to find a create lies beyond the muck - maybe you haven't found your way around it yet, but you are trying to - trying seems to be the only step to achieving.
    Under the metal hard shells of things there is always color, always another layer. Some things only reflect their outward selves, too afraid to be known. But there is always something to know, always something they will show you in time - a deep fucshia perhaps?
    your paintings again capture such a quiet beauty - but underneath the layers of ice there's so much happening.

  5. funny- I've just been looking at icebergs on google images, it is a much more pleasant format than their old clunky layout!
    Last night I dreamed my hands were very small and deformed- frustration with being too sick to work at the moment probably.
    Thanks for the link to Anita Bruce- you are right she and I are on very similar tracks.

  6. Hi Meliors - I'm sorry to hear you're sick. I hope you feel better soon, and quickly. How awful to not to be able to make the work you want to...

    I get homesick for the ice. Do you? I imagine you do. I regularly have to go back into my image archives or onto Google just to 'be' back there awhile. It's a mindset as much as an actual place, don't you find?

    I was delighted by Anita's work and immediately thought of you... I have Penelope Todd to thank for first introducing me to your work. Which is how it goes... lovely, really ; ).

    Take care. C

  7. Your paintings are so inspiring and take me to my beloved icy landscapes. I don't know the difference between dreams and "reality"; can you tell the difference when you are dreaming? Are your paintings only a piece of memory captured in canvas? Or are they a reality by themselves?