My dream for this blog is for it to be a jumping off place for us to engage with ideas and beliefs that challenge who and where we are right now. Not just for the sake of it but for the pursuit of a deeper, more thoughtful, more loving, more accepting, more fearless and richer life.
I was born into a family of hard working, sport loving, beer swilling Bogans, so we are unsure of just where my love affair with music, the arts and theatre began, but it began when I was very young.
By the time I was 14 I fancied myself as a bit of a cultural connoisseur; in reality I concede that I was just an obnoxious teenage wanker, but I didn’t let that stop me pursuing the dream. Living in a small town nearly two hours from our capital city it was thrilling the day our school bussed us down to visit the state Art Gallery.
There I was totally in my element. My dream was to walk around and breathe in these great works of art on my own like every other grown up who had just popped in for the day. I fantasised that I was a sophisticated member of this art loving community, equally knowledgeable, intelligent and adult.
The reality was I was a 14yr old wearing a school uniform that grouped me in with 60 kids who were only there because the itinerary included lunch at McDonalds afterwards. We were watched like hawks and treated like a bunch of misbehaving snot nosed teenagers, probably because we were.
In the expansive foyer of the gallery there was a very large abstract canvas painting, it was huge at 4.5m wide by 2m high. It was called “After Sirius” and was painted by the Australian artist Michael Johnson in 1987-1988.
I couldn’t tell you exactly what our guide told us about the painting at the time but I came across this quote published in 2004 by Barry Pearce so let’s just pretend it was something along these lines. Barry Pearce is a long-time friend of Michael Johnson and went on to become a Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW.
“….metaphysical orchestration of colour and a muscularity of presence” to “ruptured, sinewed application of base, primary colour performs an opera of gestures and painterly manoeuvres”.
The reason I can easily imagine that our guide offered us something similar to the above is because I clearly remember my response to the painting, I hated it. Not a mild dislike but a genuine outraged passionate hate.
How could this monstrosity be hanging pride of place in this our states largest and most prestigious gallery? Who would pay for such crap? How can this be art?
This painting would haunt me for years. I kept coming across it in art books and of course every time I went to indulge in my lovely grown up moments at the gallery there it was to repulse me, pride of place right near the entry.
One day, and only to further support my hatred with ammunition, I decided to find out some things about the eyesore. That day changed many things about my life.
Long story short I grew to deeply love and respect Michael Johnson as a painter and I do believe that had my reaction not been so strong I wouldn’t have bothered to find out any more about the painting, the artist or the art period.
My wish for this blog is for it to be a forum for where I can show the same amount of curiosity about things which draw out such strong reactions from me as I did as a teenager. It is not a comfortable or easy place to be in when we have such deep reactions, but if I’ve learnt anything it’s that this place always brings about deep riches.
Whether it’s about confirming our own beliefs or changing them altogether, whether it’s about understanding the benefits that come to us from different perspectives or just letting go and seeing that multiple perspectives can exist without threatening our own sense of self; it is all enriching.
So I encourage you to challenge yourself as well by looking at those things which push your buttons and have you reacting strongly.
There may be lots we agree on but I’m also hoping that there is a lot that we don’t, just know that this blog should always be a forum where your opinion is valued and respected. And if it is not then I would appreciate you lovingly holding me accountable to those ideals.
This is a journey, I don’t know the destination. There is no right and no wrong there is only what you think, feel and believe and what I think, feel and believe. So let’s have some fun!