In 2005, those of you who are familiar with my work, I did some paintings on a young female Botswana girl named Gobona. This was pre-Existence in the Dream, where my palette changed to jewel tones. Two of the Gobona’s follow:
Recently, I went to Italy and loved every second of it. I met this young man just outside of the Duomo in Lecce. He was just so gorgeous, I could not help myself staring. Finally, yes, I did take a picture:
When I came back to Kelowna, I was going over a number of different pictures, and came across him … I was already doing pairs of females prior to departure (some of which I think I will paint over). New now, from my works from Gobona, and my dancers, and the time in Italy with the earthy colours, and returning to most of this palette. Everything comes around:
I am enjoying the return to the earthy colours, it’s been a challenge to come back to, but it feels right. The limited palette I gave myself in Italy was definitely beneficial.
The experience has been a very positive one. There will be a few changes when I get back to Canada. I feel much more confident, more assured, more in control and cognizant of my own abilities, in so many different ways.
These artworks are based on the birds that flew in the courtyard where I was staying, but they were hard to catch in a photo. They had a joy of life, of freedom, and they taught me so much.
Some of these, I started to see what they were – wonder if you see the same things I do ….
When Gianni Sirch saw these, one of the first things he said was that I was not afraid of death. No I don’t think I am. I don’t think he meant that I was morbid, just that I recognize there is darkness and light, and there must always be a balance. Because of my experiences through the military, and after, I’ve been through hell – and I think that is the key – to go through, and not to stay ….
These images have become the recording of my own existence, perhaps. I don’t think we are all that different in our experiences.
I did a self portrait near the end of the residency. I was quite captivated by Andy Warhol’s Saint Apollinia, which was on display in the gallery of the Castello Aragonese.
I liked that image so much, that I did a grisaille with my minimal palette of white, titan buff, and earth tones in pastels, fixed with medium. This is a process I follow (doing a rendition close to the original) when I am going to change the image in to my own expression. Not always, of course, sometimes I just paint …. but this time I did:
There are no titles for these works just yet. I do know they are responses to the environment, the people, the energies in Otranto and the surrounding area.
The most beneficial thing I did in Italy was give myself the permission to create works as they came, without judgement or contrived artifice. As both Lucio Pozzi and Gianni Sirch (the visiting critics) said, these are very honest and open.
I love history, I love the human whys and hows. Where were these artworks coming from? The artworks completed are distinctly tied in with the surroundings, with the dichotomy of living in the present but with the influence of the past.
Here is a brief story of one of a short physical time, but a lasting effect on the people, the place and the existence in Otranto. It doesn’t matter to me what religion they were, it is the ideal of standing up for one’s beliefs in the face of mortality, with the knowing and understanding that ideals last longer than one’s breath on earth.
There was a place for the martyrs of Otranto, with heads and bones still in place behind the glass case, and the stone used to behead them, still containing fragments of bone and flesh, in the space under the altar. It was quite macabre, but it was effective. Strong visual reminders of the human ego, the requirement of other less evolved beings to dominate and to be right, the cruelty of humans to their fellow man, our mortality but our endurance and fortitude, strength and power over one’s own actions in spite of external pressures. These people lived by their own rules.
These kinds of stories abound all over the world, and are not particular to this region, but anyone coming here, can not help but be affected, if they are open. Time is different, and the veil is very thin. Somehow, the wind is the guardian I think…
I am reminded of Lao Tzu’s wisdom:
“He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.”
The emotions of the people who lived here still linger. Remember during artwork creation, I was reacting instinctively and without thought to the place, reveling in experiences, feelings, emotions, intuition, just making marks, just being in the moment. It is only now, three weeks later, after the effects of being present are considered and thought upon that these conclusions are being reached. I am very grateful that I had this opportunity to come to a place where I could immerse myself completely in all aspects: sensory and intellectual. Both the male and the female have been represented, and there is a balance.