Artist Statement, Thread Lines, 2018
The line is the path of passing through, movement, collision, edge, attachment, joining, sectioning… (Alexander Rodchenko, Russian Constructivist, 1920).
Rather than being captivated by the splendor of the lotus flower, redolent with its historical, religious and symbolic meaning, in these works I contemplate the end of its cycle; as it decays and decomposes downwards back into the muddy waters from which it has sprung.
My eye was drawn to the aesthetics of abstraction and simplicity. The plants were no longer seen as plants, they were transformed into lines and shapes in space, accentuating their graphic nature. The reflections of these forms on the water—with the water itself as a source of movement and life— evokes, in my mind, the gestural traces of a calligraphic brush stroke. The images are monochromatic; their shallow depth of field and absence of a horizon line help to articulate a poetic mood.
John Olsen once said, talking about his attraction to the Australian desert, ‘the void is compelling because of the contemplative richness of emptiness.’ In contemporary writing on photography, absence and presence are often discussed, and in my previous work I have been drawn to the exploration of these concepts. Here too one could talk of endings and the contemplation of mortality in the midst of life.
With allusions to the rich symbolism of the lotus in South East Asia, these images bring an added dimension. In Zen Buddhist writings, the concept of emptiness moves away from dualistic thinking in Western philosophical traditions. Emptiness plays an important part as a formal aspect in the Zen arts – large empty spaces – but these spaces are never lifeless. As one art historian suggests: ‘Emptiness does not equate with nothingness, but rather with something and nothing at the same time.’ In Japanese arts, the texture of the material base, in this case handmade Japanese paper, helps give the empty spaces ‘an ambience of activeness’.
These quiet images also pay homage to works by particular modernist artists and share in their sense of wonderment. Some sources of inspiration include surrealist and Dadaist artist, Joan Miró, particularly his series Pájaro en el espacio; and the photographer, Harry Callahan, with his exquisite images of ordinary elements such as sand and weeds and his strong interest in the prosaic. In Callahan’s work, while the world is ‘reduced down to a small slice of land, … the distillation is meant to heighten our perception of what remains’.