Lancaster Fine Arts..Online..Gallery

 

Some of our Artists

Barry Kidd

Barry Kidd’s reputation as an artist of note has evolved over the last 30 years. His work in Brisbane is highly regarded, with the Redland Shire purchasing several of his works over a period of time. In 1996 he won the prestigious Yurara Art Award .

Janine Salway-Stubbs

Janine Salway-Stubbs is a graduate of the National Art School, Sydney. She has spent the last two decades, heading up art departments and teaching art in high schools. Her art has been described as captivating.

Julie Wecker

Julie Wecker is a multi award-winning artist who was Finalist in the Moreton Bay Region Art Awards in 2009 and Finalist in the Pine Rivers Art Awards in 2008. Her work is in the collections of the Redcliffe Museum and the Pine Rivers Regional Gallery and

On Making Art: A Letter to Artists

Derek Whitehead PhD (USyd)

Dear Fellow Artists,

Firstly, I write to you as a practicing and exhibiting artist; one who also happens to write and publish in the areas of the philosophy of art and aesthetics in Australia and overseas. Secondly, I am conscious that many of you will have strongly held views about the subject of art and art-making. On one point we might readily agree: that we have come to know Art as both gracious and demanding - within which we expend and expand our days - the spirit of art, that is, experienced as a sure, constant, yet unyielding companion on our way. However, in drawing upon words rather than images to express what I believe in the context of a letter about art, I am reminded of the often quoted maxim, ‘don't talk painter, paint!.

Other artists, too, have noted this imperative, but have chosen to step aside gently from their art for a time to ruminate on the deeper meanings and dispositions of created things - these representations of inner and outer worlds - by way of words. Here, if I may say so, we can at least garner some comfort and direction to our thinking if we somehow succeed in putting forward a verbal focus as a complement to our picture making. Why it might be asked? Because this idea may stimulate a different angle of approach, one which might illuminate our thought in the presence of our work.

Furthermore, in raising what may appear to be rather serious questions about the nature of art, I would ask your indulgence, for a short while.

When we speak of art-making, what do we mean? Historically, artists have engaged in meaningful activity, intent on bringing something about, something produced (from the Latin pro-ducere: ‘to lead into being'). We may think of this being as coming into existence, where formerly there was nothing; or rather, where there was some thing, by virtue of a given material, only in potential. An artist chooses some material, clay, paint, stone, etc., in order that it might be worked into an objective thing, a thing now standing outside and independent of the artist - an object visualised, realised, brought into being, having some intention or purpose in its making. This object comes before us as a made thing and by an act(s) of the human mind and hand.

Ideally, a created work will convey and communicate something of its own inner logic, revealing mysteries of the articulation of line, form and colour, previously unexpected or unsolicited. If the work is a more or less faithful representation of some object or theme in the natural world or of human sense, it will seek to engage us at the level of the senses, and within the range of its vitality and immediacy. If a work is drawn more from some interior or hidden source, then it is likely to have the characteristics of ‘abstraction'. The true meaning of the word abstraction is that which is ‘drawn aside'. And in visual art, it is said to be the assembling of shapes and colours in pleasing patterns rather than being the representation of any objective physical reality; or, it is the subjective expression of an ideal or feeling rather than a picture of a physical object (OED definitions). Personally, I feel that abstraction is the basis for all form: that form arises from formlessness, just as order and coherence emerge from disorder and chaos.

For example, when we turn to our own painting practice, what do we make of this bare spare plane we call a canvas when we take up our paints and brushes? What is this strange, almost driven occupation, this business of mark-making on flat surfaces? How and where do we make our first mark on this innocent white ground? What do we hope for, what do we intend? For help we might return to the disciplines of our training, or rely on gesture, instinct or intuition. In the first instance, if we are faithful to our tasks, giving actual and unqualified time to our art, then it begins to open up before us as mediator of a will and an inspiration we hardly dare call our own; for something alive has painstakingly come into being before our eyes: the eyes of our senses, hearts and spirits.

In this respect we should not forget that a created work is its own justification. It is a making congruent with the very best in our lives. Such a work speaks its own language, to be sure, but it may also offer up more of itself, insofar as it possesses the necessary qualities for communion. Here, as artists, we must endeavour to ‘create an audience' for our work, and with all the skill and insight at our personal command. We must not despair of the power of represented reality - what is more, our ability to create our own reality in our work - to move and shape its observers. We must also remember that it is the honest labour of daily work in and of itself, and in all its manifold dimensions, which inspires us to create. But what of those deeper factors, unrecognised perhaps, at work in our work?

The Swiss artist and pedagogue, Paul Klee, speaks of one's inner depths as the origin of the artist's most profound inspiration. He says quite remarkably that the artist "does nothing other than gather and pass on what comes [to him/her] from the depths". The artist "neither serves nor rules", the artist is one who "transmits". The artist's position is "humble'": he/she is "merely a channel", an instrument (Paul Klee, On Modern Art, Faber and Faber, London, 1948/1987). This, it seems to me, is a kind of summary statement of the artistic vocation, and portends an almost reverent obligation: an earnest responsibility toward the spirit of art, toward our work, and toward ourselves.

But what about art-making in our contemporary times? Here we would do well to consider an often neglected area of our lives - the interior life: that source of authentic being and wellspring of artistic expression to which we turn, as human creators, for the harmonising and purifying of our aspirations and goals. I am not advocating any humiliation here, a plan of creative moral action isolated from the world, but rather the upsurge of an individual pattern of response to art and to life undertaken in constancy, for its own sake, whether or not the thing realised, the work, is ever recognised and appreciated by a viewing public.

Finally, what of the mystery of our art which is done in private, in seclusion, becoming public: having a public face in a public space? We need to remember that our work first has its origins in our minds and hearts, its actuality in our hands, before it is given over to the public sphere. It must be readily admitted, however, that we all desire the consolation to be had from genuine Gallery representation; particularly when a work of ours is acquired by someone who feels that this work is not just something to be looked at, but rather to be lived with! Such is the invisible reward given to us, on rare occasions, when a work of ours becomes a companion to other lives in other spaces.

© Dr Derek Whitehead 2010