Bimblebox — Judith Sinnamon’s New Paintings @ Edwina Corlette Gallery 19 July – 9 August, 2018

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JS_ECG_Portrait of Corymbia Aparrerinja, Binblebox, with Rufous Whistlers (actually..... Corymbia Dallachiana)_2018_Oil on linen _154 x 119cm_

Portrait of Corymbia Aparrerinja, Bimblebox, with Rufous Whistlers (2018), Oil on linen, 154x119cm. Photo by Carl Warner.

Bimblebox Nature Refuge is situated 1,120 km northwest of Brisbane in the heart of cattle and coal country. The fourteen-hour drive to this remnant semi-arid woodlands transforms an artist’s eye along the way. One leaves behind the city and the suburbs, the lush green gardens and rainforest, the endless malls and carparks: to Dalby, Roma, Emerald, Alpha, and finally, Bimblebox. The visuals gradually evolve into a dryer, more austere landscape, wide-open skies and towering clouds, and nature is more prudent with colour.

Judith Sinnamon traveled to Bimblebox late last year due to her lifelong concern for the environment – the fight by activists to save the refuge from Big Coal has been hard fought since 2007, and she wanted to see the land (and its trees) for herself. But, she admits, “I was unprepared for the beauty of the place.” And even though she’d painted trees of southeast Queensland for years, this was another world entirely – and it was under siege. She goes on to say:

“In my work, the celebration and joy of nature is juxtaposed with my (and a collective) sense of alarm in regard to destruction of the environment.  My starting point is the awe I feel when in the presence of trees – the trees of the Central Queensland region in this case.”

The balance Sinnamon pursues in her paintings parallels her desire to see equilibrium restored to humanity’s relationship with nature. At the core of her painting concerns is the interplay of opposing energies and dynamics: the stoic stasis of Corymbia aparrerinja contrasted with their vegetal, twisting gestures; her spare, earthy palette applied fluently, quickly in layered daubs, strokes and semi-swirls; and, above all, her sensitive capture of the flicker of light to shadow on the infinite forms and textures of trees, grass and sky. Taken together, these carefully crafted, visual and formal qualities document her deeply felt connection to the natural world.

Portrait of Corymbia Aparrerinja, Bimblebox, with Rufous Whistlers (2018), shares an affinity with Albert Namatjira’s Ghost gum (c.1948) in that both paintings grant their trees the status of individuality. Sinnamon acknowledges the older artist’s influence on her work – particularly the iconic presence of ghost gums in his watercolours. Trees remind her of the human body: “the random twisting of limbs, the bulbous resin growths, pock marks and scarring from lost limbs or insect activity… the luminosity of their trunks evocative of human flesh,” all combine to interconnect the arboreal with the human.

JS_ECG_Dancing Ghost gum (Corymbia Dallachiana)_2018_Oil on linen_124 x 154cm_

Dancing Ghost Gum (Corymbia Dallachiana) (2018), Oil on Linen, 124x154cm. Photo by Carl Warner

In every canvas, the artist begins with an all-over, bright ochre ground, next carefully mapping out the shapes of trunks and branches, and then building form and volume in layers of single strokes of wet-into-wet paint. Looking close-up at the surfaces of bark in Dancing Ghost Gum (Corymbia Dallachiana) (2018), one enters a microcosm of abstraction. Sinnamon capitalises on the use of subtley-toned complementary greys and taupes on areas of bark to open up space between each stroke, so that a weightless luminosity exists – as if her trees are built from light. Stepping back from the painting, the structured physicality of her brushwork coalesces into volume and heft. Multi-directional movement of lanceolate leaves shimmers dark to yellow-green, forming a canopy energised by light and gravity’s pull. Rhumba-like in dancing gesture, the ghost gums’ branches gyrate, affirming nature’s erotic, dynamic play of creation and destruction.

JS_ECG_Bimblebox (Eucalyptus Populnea) #1_2018_Oil on canvas _65 x 65cm _$3,800

Bimblebox (Eucalyptus Populnea) #1 (2018), Oil on canvas, 65x65cm. Photo by Carl Warner

 

JS_ECG_Corymbia Tessellaris of the Galilee Basin_2018_Oil on linen _104 x 134cm_

Corymbia Tessellaris of the Galilee Basin (2018), Oil on linen, 104x134cm. Photo by Carl Warner

 

Sinnamon’s profound fascination with trees motivates this work. “I want people to value nature,” she says. “Trees are loved because their beauty is comforting, however nature is not a given. We can’t know that it’s going to be there forever, unchanged.”

 

Artist quotes are taken from a series of conversations and email correspondence during June-July 2018.

 

http://judithsinnamon.com/

http://edwinacorlette.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bimblebox – Artists and the Land – Alternative Political Energy

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My Studio @ Bimblebox in the golden soft light of late arvo (complete with hammock)

 

Carl Greg Michael Beth

 

Carl, Gregg, Michael and Beth work on getting something to work

Photo: Glenda Orr

 

 

Artists’ camps are a great tradition in Australia. The bush is revered by everyone here, and camping together on the land creates the opportunity to make art within nature and with other like-minded souls. I was lucky enough to spend time at the third Bimblebox artists’ camp in the company of 12 other artists and activists a couple weeks ago. Since then I’ve been wondering how the amazing sense of community and resulting energy sensitised to this special place can be used to further the fight to save the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, which is threatened by coal mining development.

I’m thinking about this: What if the art form at work here is the camp and the activity associated with, and created by it? Not limited to only artworks made by the artists during the camp… the whole shebang is a happening with outwardly rippling effects over time. There was a laid-back, yet intense cross-pollinization among all of us that included working the farm, cooking, repairing fences, filming a docko, painting, drawing… and even I rode Rooster the easy-going gelding to bring the bulls in from the paddock. Another highlight for me was John and Glenda’s (both trained as scientists) discussion of the chemical event aka photosynthesis in its most basic, known form of energy exchange by isotopes (I believe that’s almost correctly stated).

Think: a touch of sleeve – it’s like the butterfly effect – sometimes known as ‘networking’. But this is a particular kind of small scale gathering. One that can lead to bigger, unexpected outcomes — based on time spent together, influences, conversations, and unique works of art. I’m not making grand assertions here, as if Bimblebox artists’ camp is like the Burning Man Festival. But, you never know. And maybe if we enlarge our concept of what art is to include collaboration, yes, we need to allow events to be art that unfold(s) over time, with definite, unscripted goals. Well, it’s really food for thought. And documenting such activity could take many interesting and yet undiscovered forms and provide impact.

This 2014 camp started in this way: Many artists exchanged emails over a period of about two-three weeks with Jill Sampson (the Australian artist who inaugurated the Bimblebox Art Project and artists’ camps, and who has obviously thought a lot about these things), Paola Cassoni (who is an owner of Bimblebox, an amazing activist on its behalf and the fabulous camp cook during the artists’ stay), and Ian Hoch (another owner, who also runs the cattle station on Bimblebox) to decide who was able to attend, how and when they would arrive and to generally make plans. Prior to travelling at least 14 hours by car, there were many considerations: accident waivers to sign, lists of groceries to procure, difficult driving directions to understand, camping equipment to pack, for example. Because Bimblebox is really in the middle of nowhere, all must be carefully prepared. And we haven’t even spoken of all the preparations (carried out by Paola, Ian and Carl) necessary to support the artists and their needs during the camp.

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The road to Bimblebox

Photo: Pat Hoffie

I will be developing these ideas on future posts. All thoughts welcome. What follows below are photographs of the people and the place and related links. Next blog will include artworks and more thoughts.

(On an earlier blog at polycentrica, I posted a review of the excellent exhibition Bimblebox: art – science – nature (curated by Beth Jackson) that showcases artists’ work from camps run in 2012 and 2013. Bimblebox is currently touring Australia to raise awareness of this and other nature refuges in serious trouble.)

 

 

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The road to Bimblebox – Acland coal train

 

 

 

 

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The road to Bimblebox: Bottle trees

Photo: Pat Hoffie

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Carl Hoch (Bimblebox genius caretaker), me, John Davis (filmmaker)

 

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The Bimblebox Artist Camp – Beth Jackson (curator of Bimblebox touring exhibition) and Michael Foley (Artist) enjoy a tete a tete

 

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Pat’s truck and swag

Photo: Pat Hoffie

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Glenda Orr (Artist) and Michael Foley

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Paola Cassoni (Bimblebox activist, owner and incredible chef)

Photo: Pat Hoffie

 

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Heathland around the camp and solar panels for power

 

 

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Frida Forsberg (Artist), Paola, Glenda, Pat Hoffie (Artist)

 

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Frida working quietly in the end-of-day light

 

Pat & Carl drilling

Pat and Carl drilling bones

Photo: Glenda Orr

 

Frida painting closer up

Frida painting and drawing

Photo: Glenda Orr

Pat Frida Emma at camp

Pat, Frida and Emma Hamm (Artist)

 

Related links:

Paola’s website and blog: http://bimblebox.org/about/

Website for the exhibition Bimblebox – art- science – nature:

http://www.bimbleboxexhibition.com/

The documentary film on Bimblebox by Mike O’Connell:

http://bimbleboxdocumentary.com/

Bimblebox Art Project Blog by Jill Sampson, encompassing all aspects:

https://bimbleboxartproject.wordpress.com/category/bimblebox-art-project/