Celestial Bodies 

​ Musings on the installation of Equinox, a public artwork for the new Tamworth Hospital made on site in October 2016 by James Rogers and Nameer Davis. 

Equinox is the twice yearly event at which the sun crosses the celestial equator and day and night are equal in length the world over
While working on this project I kept pondering on a story I’d heard during the drive down.  The short story from TC Boyle, a perfectly melded unit of form and content hurtling into tragedy. The story’s narrator presents fragments of a natural history of meteors while recounting specific events surrounding his daughter’s apparent roadside death in a traffic accident. A meteor extinguishes the dinosaur age and a swerving car shakes a relationship off its orbit. It’s a spellbinding collage of human order, probability and random nature which in a sense is the workaday world of the hospital.  

I Drove to Walcha in late September on a friend’s invitation to collaborate in a public art work he’d conceived for the new Tamworth Hospital.

My friendship with James Rogers stems from a studio shared in Sydney and farther back to art college in Toowoomba. James describes himself as a journeyman Sculptor; some years ago he relocated from Sydney where he exhibits regularly and successfully, to the New England town of Walcha.

For the purpose of our collaboration I would hazard to say that we have common sympathy in responding to the visual and physical as the avenue through which complex experience in art is formed.  

Table draft,  work in progress 

Shortlisted and successfully negotiating the competition, James provided the commissioners with the concept of an arrangement of coloured discs along the given venue, a 37 metre corridor.

The installation is a performance insofar as the design is composing itself in tandem with its application, onsite in real time. This process encourages an exploration of colour and placement, of circle and ground as colour fields experienced up close as well as rhythm and variation appreciable from street approach.

The exciting prospect of the work lies in the improvised nature of the composition, making decisions as the elements are painted on site and in public view is an anxious enterprise, heightening  perceptions of the site that deepen with developments on the wall… decisions in such a context expand the meaning of aesthetics. Founded in perception, flexing knowledge and experience, they become expressed in decisions that entwine stylistic and historical association with the optics and physicality of shape and mass; a fresco in which freshness stems from an active and live dialogue.

Tamworth hospital was the first Australian government institution to fly an Aboriginal flag. The actual flag flew till its tatters were conserved and framed; it now hangs on the stairwell approaching the fresco. Its yellow sun, together with the afternoon sunlight flooding the corridor decided the colour for our central disc, yellow is also the way-finding colour for this floor.

Patient wards and imaging services of ultrasound, mri and x ray, are the media through which medicine divines its cures. The abstract probabilities of modern medicine are offset by traditions of care and systems of order; a hospital begins and ends with the human body. 

Equinox is a series of 2.5 metre diameter discs drawn with compass,  chalk, Caulking gun, roller, brush and squeegee. The act of painting using the outstretched body within a circle puts in mind Leonardo’s Vitruvian figure holding nuance while honing surface close up and rhythm further afield. On-the-spot decisions arrived at through sun cast shadows, projections of mood and activity, effects of ambient medical smells and sounds and the overall making of the workaday hospital routine coalesce in these 37 metres. Sequencing between entrance and exit and renewing itself in each traversal. 

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The Shape Of Words

Three artists, three galleries, the exhibition is open and with it an opportunity to reflect on what has taken place within the actuality of the gallery.

David Parker


Looking at David’s show I think it could be given the subtitle: In  space no one can hear you scream.  The work is colourful and high volume, you get a sudden brief inundation of visual noise, then everything goes silent as if it’s behind a glass screen. This seems to be caused by a counter movement between the word or image and its spatial treatment.

david parker 4

When the marks are gestural and up there on the surface there’s a sudden leap to the mid or back-ground that leaves notes hanging in space. On the other hand in the single treatment watercolours, the wet ground has pulled the mark into an airy, blown space like clouds carrying the memory of a shaping force in their softening forms.

Other works theatrically fling the painter’s stock-in-trade canvas and stretcher crushed, folded and wrapped onto the floor or wall. The momentary in this show isn’t an essential moment, but a sudden stoppage as if to be more reflective will be the loss of a sustaining energy.

Barbara Penrose

Bpenrose anagram 1 & 2

gallery statement by the artist:

Georgia O’Keefe: ‘( I was like) a little plant, watered, weeded and dug around’

O’Keefe lived her late years in the New Mexico desert. She made this wry statement when asked about her life, decades earlier with the photographer Alfred Stieglitz to whom, in a conflicted way, she remained devoted.

barbara penrose anagram II

Barbara Penrose: My previous installation work has developed an expanded geometry into the building architecture. Anagram I & II are scaled to hold a spatial geometry within themselves.

barbara penrose 1

Georgia O’Keefe was a female artist instrumental in developing large scale wall work. The crosscurrents between her famous desert imagery and the quoted statement gave impetus to this work.

barbara penrose 2

installation shot nameer Davis  and barbara penrose

Nameer Davis

The  fashion plate aesthetic from which this imagery derives has its terms of success based in the figure and its power &/or entrapment within the frame.  The installation here presents a slightly different face to the work than previously posted.

ndavis reflector installation 5

There’s a distancing formality, partly influenced by the  photographs which hang from the facial expression of the model,  and partly the particular green paint mixed to resemble the craft-paper cut-outs I had scaled to the pre-stained and stretched supports as intermediary drawings.  After staining the cloth support, the cut-out image was a decisive layer in which method had more import than aesthetics. This direction is reflected in the titles combining  terms from  Adobe image-editing (printed in black) and from  the fashion industry (in red).

ndavis reflector installation 26

The single figure works installed as a wall composition rather than a series of discrete works reads close to how they were conceived – akin to a fashion industry studio wall . Finally I’m thinking back to an early show of my figurative work derived from a 19th Century stereoscope. Importance is given to the space in which the figure is placed. The works in the  earlier show were all shaped,  in the current works the lines leading between figures and frame treat the photographic space as an actual corner of the world. It reminds me  of the word recapitulation, which if taken literally from the Latin reads ‘revisit the head’.  Looking between past and present, object and other in order to gain hold of a conscious moment.

ndavis reflector installation 4


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The Shape of Words Invitation

The Shape of Words  brings together three artists working with text in a variety of ways. Twenty five years ago we met as students at the QUT Painting and Sculpture studios.  We were looking to refresh our ideas in a profession that’s always been isolating in its practice. It’ll be interesting to see just where we are in relation to each other when the work is hung, I’m sure there’ll be many levels of interaction in the show.

The work I’m presenting under the title Reflector: painting out of fashion, stems from fashion photographs and their presentation of the human figure as a formal and stylistic vehicle for clothing. Late last year I was thumbing through a Myer catalogue of fashion plates presenting a diverse quotation of styles as models for identification and consumption. I name them roughly as Tennesee Williams’ Deep South , John Steinbeck’s depression era , Artemesia Gentileschi’s Judith and Holofernes, Lara Croft Tomb Raider etc.  The craft in these fashion plates  combines copy-writing, photography and graphic layout, the  light and severe cropping are concise,often collaged into tableaux that build a relationship between image and consumer.  My last show  brought decorative surfaces as layered systems for scattering the figure, so I guess I now had an eye for the layering of meaning in these images.

2016-02-14 20.19.312016_0207_19231400(2)


2016-02-14 20.09.052016-02-14 20.13.55

 The figures in these highly crafted photographs are held by the frame, in the better ones they’re also holding positions, tensed by spaces between figure and frame. I added lines to the figures to reinforce what I saw taking place in the compositions, as I originally drew them into the photographs I noticed  the lines often pointed to narrative elements deeper in the images.


In the work for this show I’ve used a variety of supports ranging through steel, brass plate, burlap, linen and woven polyester. I admire fashion photography, its’ brave flatness, and I’ve given these images the slightly ruined look of a fantasy whose layers peel back to reveal the armature of a figurative construct. 


Posted in Contemporary painting, crowd formation, fashion discourse | Tagged | 2 Comments