how little needs to be said to know nothing

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how little needs to be said to know nothing – exhibition @byronschoolofart – 13 to 25 April 2018

My current exhibition opened last Friday 13th April at the Byron School of Art, Project Space, Mullumbimby. For those that may be wondering where this is, Mullum (as we locals call it) is located in the Byron Shire (Byron Bay area), Northern NSW, Australia. It’s a beautiful little country town with a thriving arts community. The Byron School of Art, or BSA, is a welcome addition to the community and is growing in popularity as it offers year-long courses, short classes and exhibition opportunities encouraging artists to experiment with their ideas. I was fortunate to be selected to exhibit this year with this large body of work on paper I’ve been quietly creating for nearly two years.

Entitled ‘how little needs to be said to know nothing’ this exhibition explores an inquiry into the direct experience of form (the body, thoughts and emotions) and formlessness (silence, stillness and spaciousness) through my daily contemplations and meditations.

With a keen interest to understand the human experience of consciousness I wanted to take the simplicity of a piece of paper, showing up with a brush in hand, and surrender to whatever the moment created. I wanted to just paint and paint and paint and see what would be there at the end of a hundred paintings. So far I’ve painted 70 works, most of which have not been edited, or gone over, but rather completed in one or two sittings, put to the side, moving onto the next. In this way I felt I was better able to stop the mind from jumping in with conceptual ideas of what ‘should’ be on the page, or allowing overt self-criticism.

As the months rolled by I began to see themes emerge. One of them being “how little can I express onto the paper for it to still engage and meet me in some way?” In this way the title ‘how little needs to be said to know nothing’ can be read as a question or a statement.  Reviewing the paintings, I realised the exhibition feels like a visual journal, where what started as painterly expression, using the metaphor of a vessel for form, has quietly fallen away.  The paint has became thinner, the subject has receded, leaving just spaciousness on the paper. In today’s busy digital disruption lifestyle, I like the simplicity of that.

The exhibition continues until 25th April and can be viewed Monday to Saturday 10am to 2pm at the BSA Project Space, 112 Dalley Street, Mullumbimby. I will be there most days to share the experience and would enjoy your feedback should you be able to pop in and say hello.

For more information www.byronschoolofart.com/bsa-project-space-calendar/

Some more pieces from the exhibition:

Melinda Blair Paterson artist
untitled #6 – melinda blair paterson – mixed media – 290gsm paper – 2016

The above piece was in the initial part of this series that used the shape of a vessel to depict the human experience of form.

Melinda Blair Paterson artist
untitled #21 – melinda blair paterson – mixed media – 290gsm paper – 2017

The above piece shows the language or asemic writing I love to express. It is a language that has no meaning and yet brings a palpable experience of energy through my body when it is written.

Melinda Blair Paterson artist
untitled #45 – melinda blair paterson – mixed media – 290gsm paper – 2017

The above piece is an example of the later part of this series where spaciousness became the main expression and simplicity of colour was applied in thin washes of paint.

 

 

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…the more art becomes abstract

The more horrifying this world becomes… the more art becomes abstract.
Paul Klee

Fico_web
Feigenbaum (Fig Tree) (detail) – Paul Klee – 1929

The morning internet meander, skipping through a series of website/blog/social media links; I’m stopped in my tracks reading this quote.

You see just prior I’d been shocked at the horror (and beauty) of the photos from today’s wild bushfires in Northern California on CNN. My heart ached for the loss of acres of natural and man made landscapes, and sadly, lives. I was taking it all in; choosing to feel it for as long as I could, before I noticed there was a click, a change of screen, and a seeking of serenity. A counter balance to the viewed horrors and increasing sense of heart pain.

Artist - Park Seo-bo
Black ink, white clam and oyster shell powder and glue with Korean Hanji paper on canvas – 130 × 195 cm – 2001

This came in the form of researching some of the artists introduced to me yesterday via the recent post Finding the Forgotten Note from Slow Muse blog by Deborah Barlow. One of my favourites. Abstract artists like: Agnes Martin, Park Seo-bo, Martin Puryear, G. R. Santosh,  Okada Kenzo and Zhan Wang currently featured at the Boston MFA (Museum of Fine Art) exhibition Seeking Stillness. 

The curator’s statement:

Artists help us see and make sense of our world. Many, in this divisive moment, have engaged directly and powerfully with the social and political issues of our age. No less powerful or relevant, however, are the works that can lead us beyond the unsettled present: to places of respite, contemplation, transcendence, stillness.

 

Transformation_Melinda_Blair_Paterson_2017
Transformation – Melinda Blair Paterson – digital image – 2017

 

So it has been in my own art practice this year as I have felt an increasing movement towards less and less;  a minimal reductive abstract expression emerging, which brings me solace. Perhaps it is the inner seeking of a counter balance, a transformation into stillness, or just simple “relief ” sometimes, from the overwhelming disturbing ‘going ons’ felt and seen in our world at this time.

Mx

Acknowledgement and Gratitude
Curator’s statement from recent post Finding the Forgotten Note from Slow Muse blog
Image – Feigenbaum (Fig Tree) by Paul Klee from Museoman
Image –  Ecriture by Park Seo-bo from Artsy

pearl presence

IMG_9825
blue pearls – mbpblue designs – 2016

The putting down and resting of the paint brush last year, was subsequently followed by an exploration of ‘making’, which opened a number of new creative expressions here. One of which became a love of playing with the simplicity of pearls, in particular, blue pearls. I’m fascinated by their shape, colour, lustre, and of course, beauty. I prefer freshwater pearls as each one brings its own unique signature.

I purchase my pearls from a local bead shop, Trinkets, in Byron Bay. It’s one of those shops which is set back from a busy main street, with a somewhat dark narrow doorway. Entering, is like walking into a shop from an ancient bazaar, there is an explosion on the senses with floor to ceiling colour in beads and jewellery making materials from around the world. The pearls are right down the back, seemingly forgotten, in the current fashion of colour. Here I stand fossicking away in the corner, rummaging through bowls and strands of freshwater pearls, picking over each one to see if it meets my sense of beauty, collecting a few special ones, and then happily bringing them home to ponder and play.

I find myself creating designs that resonate with my natural aesthetic for minimalist simplicity. Of course there are the usual designs of balanced placement with a central pearl, accompanied by smaller seed pearls each side. However, being an abstract artist who’s into awareness, I couldn’t help but create designs that felt different and off-centre, helping move the mind and eye in a way that encourages internal inquiry… together with a sense of beauty.

I’ve particularly enjoyed selling the mbpblue abstract designs, and have had some lovely feedback from a customer in the United States, who said she consciously challenged herself to go with something different. Yeah… go girl… that’s the spirit!

The current range of blue pearls is small and select. They quietly sit in my online store being viewed and favoured by Etsy shoppers each day. Occasionally one is sold and I’m encouraged to pop back into the bazaar, rummage through the bowls, and wonder at the individuality of each freshwater pearl made from Mother Nature’s mastery. Moments are lost in the back corner of this little shop. Perhaps due to the simplicity and beauty of ‘pearl presence’.

Mx

 

 

up scaling

  IMG_7964-0untitled   66cms diameter   pen on paper   2015   melinda blair paterson

At the beginning of this year, during the Australian summer, I found it too hot in the studio for my art practice, located in a shipping container on the property where I live. So I switched to a cooler location, ie my desk in the cabin, and began creating spontaneous small pen and pencil drawings, whilst listening to Rupert Spira’s meditations ‘The Light of Pure Knowing’. The intention was to let the hand have it’s way, put the mind on pause, and see what comes!

Some of these drawings I have shared with you on this blog over the past six months. Each one bringing forth a sense of delight and love for me in the making, and a feeling of returning to, or reconnecting with, a more intuitive process in my artistic expression. More recently I’ve noticed the ‘almost daily’ practice began to disappear. The pull to the desk dissolved. So I waited.

With the summer months rolling over into winter,  I knew the weather conditions for studio practice were returning. However, another factor I must take into account is rain. You see if it’s raining I can’t go into the studio either, as the only access to light is by opening the container doors wide open. It provides a wonderful vista down the valley but not ideal for trying to keep artwork moisture or mould free. So with a week of wet weather approaching I decided to bring an easel, pin board, a large piece of paper into my tiny cabin, and ‘up scale’ my drawing practice.

Yes, it was a bit squeezy at home, but when you live on your own, it’s the kind of thing you can do. It’s also one of my favourite things… to be tucked up in the cabin creating when it’s wild, wet and windy outside. Bliss!

The above image is the piece created in that week. A drawing of spontaneous mark-making influenced by, and drawn from, the series of smaller drawings created over the past six months. It remains untitled and without colour, as I am unsure about either at this time. So I wait.

Mx

art to ashes

art to ashes - Melinda Blair Paterson

Cleaning out the studio, feeling the moment when brush will touch white surface again and mysteries will gently be revealed to the ‘observer’, today, however, ended in a bomb-fire of artworks that didn’t make the cut.

A liberating experience of turning art into ashes, watching  a thirsty fire lick colour and form, expressing its delight in bursts of blasting heat and towering flames under a clear night sky, encouraging me to step back or join the revelry.

Hours of agonising decisions on colour and mark making:  adding, subtracting, covering, and revealing. I remember struggling with it all and these artworks showed every nuance, hence had to go.

What a relief.

Mx

having apparently forgotten

having apparently forgotten your true nature - pen and pencil - 29apr15 - words from Rupert Spira - drawing by Melinda Blair Paterson - 29apr15
having apparently forgotten your true nature – pen and pencil – 29apr15 – words from Rupert Spira – drawing by Melinda Blair Paterson

Some days seem to be full of pointers, don’t they? Today’s pointers were – remember and return to the truth of ‘who you are’.

My early morning was spent catching up on some emails and blogs, one of which is Dhamma Footsteps by Tiramit. It’s a wonderful series of postcards from a Scotsman living overseas in various parts of Asia. His awareness and sharing of the ordinariness of life brings a smile to heart. So I like to wait until I have the space, quiet and presence to read his latest post, which inevitably opens me into a new moment, an other world, and an awareness of life so richly immediate.

Today’s post ‘return to go’ was a sharing of being aware, being busy, being aware of being busy, and remembering to, as they say in the Monopoly game, return to go. Also beautifully pointed to by Tiramit in this poem from Liu Wemin:

To be able to be unhurried when hurried;
To be able not to slack off when relaxed;
To be able not to be frightened
And at a loss for what to do,
When frightened and at a loss;
This is the learning that returns us
To our natural state and transforms our lives.
[Liu Wemin, 16th Century]

The day moved forward and by late morning I was sitting at my desk with pen and pencils in hand drawing whilst listening to Rupert Spira’s meditations – The light of pure knowing. As usual, I just let Rupert’s words and guidance wash over me as I disappear into my world of ‘contemplative doodling’, staying open to a line or two that may drop into awareness. Sure enough. The line dropped in: … having apparently forgotten your true nature. And I knew this would become the title of today’s drawing. A beautiful pointer to remembering to stop, drop in, and acknowledge the ‘true nature’.

Thanks to Today, Tiramit and Rupert… Mx

exquisite circles

Plate from Die Radiolarien (Rhizopoda radiaria) – Ernst Haeckel [1862]
Plate from Die Radiolarien (Rhizopoda radiaria) – Ernst Haeckel [1862]
My fascination for circles continued last week when cruising around Facebook I came across a post on the awakened eye that pointed to a piece called ‘The Rhetoric of Weird Wonders Gleefully Carousing in Morphospace : The Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr Collection.’ The name alone seemed a mouth-full and would normally have had me scrolling past with judgement of ‘too hard’, however the accompanying image stopped me in my tracks. What’s that… click! The screen flicked over to a blog called Data is Nature, and as much as I found the text a bit high brow for a quick scan, I was fascinated by the images of exquisite scientific illustration.

The author Paul Prudence writes in his post:
Scientific illustration, especially of a biological kind, reached an apex in terms of draughtsmanship and delicateness during 19th century before photography became widespread. Though the emphasis on these illustrations was on accuracy, utility and facsimile of biodiversity, the personal aesthetics of the artists inevitably wrestled their way into the frame. Ernst Haeckel’s brilliant illustrations are the canonical example of this kind of treatment. (continued here)

Phew!

On viewing and sitting with these illustrations there is no doubt they are of an exact scientific nature, however, for me it is the placement of the circles, and the subtle work of pencil that evokes an etherial beauty. Some forms appear feminine and organic, and yet a surprising element of the masculine and mechanical appear in others. All of which felt like a pointing to something deeper and perhaps beyond the duality of our world.

I found myself re-reading the post and trying to understand what Prudence was saying about Haeckel’s work. What does ‘canonical’ mean? When in doubt… Google it! The definition of CANONICAL FORM is ‘the simplest form of something’ in a mathematical context. I felt even more pulled into these drawings; bathing in their beauty, simplicity and form as captured by the artist.

Simplicity = Circles = Form in Beauty = Awareness (to me).

Mx