Back to mapping the land

Mapping the land #2Over the last few months I have been looking at Aboriginal Art, especially works which map the land using an aerial perspective. It fascinates me, but it turns out I find it quite hard to do; the traditional Western viewpoint is so strongly ingrained. You can see my original post about this here, and some unsuccessful attempts here.  

Yesterday I was having a ‘play’ day – just spending time with paint, stamps, glue etc. I did some mono-prints, some mixed-media collage, a little scrapbooking. A bit of this and a bit of that. I sifted through a few books on my shelf, including some that show the land from above.

After I had relaxed a bit I pulled out some heavier weight watercolour paper and did some monoprints using a bonded plastic bag I had saved from something-or-other. I started just casually working on top of the monoprint. And there it was – the first attempt at aerial mapping that starts to approach what I had in mind. It feels like I have broken through an unseen barrier.

Delving into an obsession

I’ve been interested in modern Aboriginal Art for the last 5 years or so, since being exposed to it as part of the theory side of my art study with TLC. Being in New Zealand, there’s little to be seen in the flesh,  and really only the internet for exploration. Any books available tend to be about older, more traditional forms.

And then along came this – a beautiful new glossy magazine dedicated to Aboriginal Art and Artists. It has lots of beautiful full-colour photographs, scholarly articles, gallery adverts and more. Completely stunning. The second issue has just come out, that’s the one shown here, and it’s every bit as good as the first.

 aaa mag cover copy

Did I mention that it’s around 180 glorious pages? And that I’m not on commission! Anyway, it has got me thinking about why I like modern Aboriginal Art and the short answer is – I’m not sure. The easy answer that springs to mind is joyful, colourful abstraction. But then I love some of the simpler, tonal works that have a Rothko feel. So it’s more than just colour, or abstraction or joy. I also love the aerial map feel of many of the works.

In the last few years I have worked on numerous series, obsessions really, such as the full moon, orange, shadows and pears. Only a tiny fraction of that study and obsession has ever been shown to anyone, even via my blog. And much of it is ongoing.

Now I think I might have to put all that aside for a while and delve into this obsession. Not that is is new, because it is not, but because suddenly I have this resource that I can study, pull apart, replicate, dissect and pore over. I suspect I’ll end up sewing, painting, drawing, collaging etc my way through the images until I begin to understand just what it is that draws me. I don’t want to produce Aboriginal Art – how can I when I am not an Aborigine? That would be mere copying. But if I can understand what draws me to it, I can transfer that joy to my own art practice.