Martha's Blog

known and unknown

Home now from my month in Australia and as some images have faded, some have become more vivid.  Travel is a marvelous thing.  You look forward to it for months, or at least weeks, with perhaps a mixture of excitement and trepidation, but at the very least anticipation.  Then the big trip arrives and you experience it with a sense of the unreal and the very real.  Australia was just an abstraction until I went there.  It was in my imagination a land of peculiar animals (kangaroos, koalas) and colorful artwork made of dots and patterns (Aboriginal art).  I knew of the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru in the center of the country/continent.  After being there for a month I have seen kangaroos and koalas in the wild, and visited many museums with room after room of Aborignal art.  My imagination hasn't been diminished by the experience but heightened.  As I sit here in my office in my home in Port Townsend, Washington, the wind blowing and rain falling outside, I know that half a world away it is spring and flowers are blooming, because just a few weeks ago I saw that for myself.  It still seems hard to believe though!


So now that I am back in my studio there are certain images that are percolating to the top, things that while I was there I suspected might hold some magic for me, but as I work towards my May, 2018 painting show I realize they do.  Some of them, like the stands of trees we saw as we walked and traveled about, were mostly eucalypts but held a certain resemblance in their relationships that I recognized from my own home in the woods.  I had been thinking a lot about trees before I went and the stands of trees I saw there only heightened those thoughts.


I also was looking for patterns in what I observed, as the concept of repetition with variation has been of interest to me, and really what a look into the woods is about.  I saw evidence of that in the groves of trees both wild and cultivated.


I also observed repetition and pattern in the Aboriginal artwork I saw at the museums we visited in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.  


And yes, we saw kangaroos every day, as well as cockatoos and other parrots.


It is hard to imagine these animals, that to we Americans are exotic pets or zoo inhabitants, actually wander about in people's yards and gardens somewhere.  They do in Australia!  

And lastly we went to an island where there are a bunch of koalas living, as they depend on only one kind of euclyptus tree for their diet, and there are a few on this island, although less all the time as they are eating themselves into extinction there, as they have elsewhere with their specialized diet.


So as the next weeks and months pass I'm sure more images from my time in Australia will come forth and more memories fade, but I am excited to create this next body of work as a way of figuring out what Australia meant to me.  I hope to discover more and more along the way!

What travels have you taken that have altered your way of looking at the world, or made you more aware of something?  Did you discover new artists or genres of art there?  Do you find travel to be important to you?