Toxic culture/Earth written
The work Toxic Culture, describes the death of my father. It is also questioning the use of a commercial acrylic medium, positioning it as an inherently sick media. In the words of Suzi Gablik, “Modern individuals do not see the earth as a source of spiritual renewal, they see it as a stock pile of raw materials to be exploited and consumed.” (Gablik, S. 1991, p77) In this work I am suggesting that acrylic paint media reinforces a toxic culture and an exploitation of the earth. Art critic Robert Hughes has pointed out “What strip mining is to the earth, the art market has become to culture” (Hughes, R in Gablik. 1991, p146) Working with this media reinforces a capitalist colonisation of the imagination and art making.
In this painting, the cycle of death is represented by the flesh coloured figure standing on a road that leads to the figure of death coming from out of the hillside. It is important to note that they are also linked by the cigarette that they both share, and this completes the circle that links the dead with the living. The crown symbolises the father and the fall of the father. This can also be read as they demise of a patriarchal society and suggests that the figure that is alive is taking that cigarette not to smoke, but to stub out and reject.
I have deep emotional connections with my children, I fear their pain in the context of a sick culture and hope to hold space for them in the world. To find a father/patriarchal figure that nurtures a sense of belonging to a sacred earth and a culture that treats it so. The Austrian painter Hundertvasser, who also worked with some found pigments, has said that all he wanted to do was, “liberate himself from the universal bluff of civilisation.” (Restany, P. 2001, p?.) Working with found natural materials, pigments and some post consumer waste helps me to counter the arrogance and cynicism of our culture. It also helps me to liberate my imagination and to activly re-imagine, through cultural embodiment, healthy networks of sacred connection.
These paintings were made in collaboration with Ember Peace my 1 and a half year old daughter.
“Love is the reality, poetry is the drum that calls us to that!”