I recorded a podcast recently with Sarah Miodzianowski who has a gem of a project going called Art Scoop Podcast, in which she explores Sydney’s Arts Culture, Exhibitions, Events and Artists. Her website is found at http://www.artscooppodcast.com/.
Have a listen to the Podcast here https://omny.fm/shows/art-scoop/artist-conversation-warwick-baird/embed?style=artwork.
In 1997 I made Flooded dreams. It’s a documentary about a dispute over the protection of a large Indigenous burial site in south western New South Wales. It has a message of the need for tolerance and respect in times of conflict, which is increasingly important in these times when lies, deceit, lack of compassion, division, and hatred are being propagated. I hope you’ll watch it. It may be viewed at Flooded dreams.
I’ve been working on Plains of the earth since the summer of early 2015. Now it is finished! It’s another series of large coloured pencil drawings of the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains. Long days on the edge of the river gorge drawing, and weeks camping in the mountains reminded me of how essential National Parks are to our wellbeing. It is so important they remain protected from development, commercial exploitation, and destruction. One of the highest priorities of government must be the funding of the proper care and management of these lands and seas.
I spent four days with my father as he died. Drawing him was an act of love and companionship. Poignant, deeply felt drawings made during his last days.
There are five drawings. The one I made on the night he died may be viewed at Dad – the last night.
My father died early in the morning of Tuesday 2 September 2014. After his funeral I spent the next four months sitting on the edge of the escarpment overlooking the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains National Park drawing the valley for 3 to 8 hours a day. The result is the work Above Only Sky, a twelve panel work, which may be viewed under Art works, and three other drawings of the valley. All the drawings were done sitting in the bush on the edge of the cliff. No photographs, no work in the studio.
The valley is a special place, personally through the connection my father had with it, and more generally, in the history of the conservation movement in Australia and for the Indigenous people.
I’ve also uploaded Main Range, Kosciuszko National Park, a 5 panel work done from March to June 2014 of the Main Range of Kosciuszko National Park drawn from a spot in the bush a few minutes from the road head above Charlotte Pass where the walk to Mt Kosciuszko begins. These drawings were also done directly from and in the landscape. Main Range, Kosciuszko National Park may be viewed under Art works.
Drawing directly from the landscape gives a quality of presence to the work and a sense of the place unobtainable when drawing from photographs. Ihope you feel this in the work, even when viewed on a screen.
Over a year.
A year spent continuing an ongoing exploration through drawing of National Parks of Australia and other areas of the natural landscape of this ancient continent.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting my latest work comprising coloured pencil drawings of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and the Snowy Mountains.
The Blue Mountains National Park is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. While what Australians refer to as the Snowy Mountains, or the Snowies, are within the Kosciuszko National Park, which contains Mt Kosciuszko, the highest point on the Australian continent.
In the meantime I’ve put up some drawings from a while back of Nielsen Park, a harbour-side park within the Sydney Harbour National Park. I hope you enjoy them.
The dreaming mind offers up much that is hidden. At the moment I’m working on a portrait of Les, an Aboriginal man I met when I was running a legal case for the Toomelah/Kamilaroi people of northern NSW. This painting is part of the Hidden Landscapes series I started when I was studying at the National Art School. Les lived in the same region where my great grandfather settled after arriving from Glasgow, Scotland in 1890. At that time it was still the frontier, a place where Indigenous people were killed and poisoned off the land. Les once told me, while quietly sitting by Boobera Lagoon, that his grandfather had been shot out of a tree by the lagoon. I didn’t register it at the time. Years later I had a dream of a violent clash between a huge Indigenous man and Europeans at a lagoon. And now I’ve come across a book at the recent Sydney Writer’s Festival, which details the killings on the frontier as it moved across northern NSW and Queensland. Timothy Bottom’s Conspiracy of Silence, Queensland’s frontier killing times published this year, sets out in detail this hidden history of violence. I’m thinking there is fertile ground here for new work in this, the early days of the 21st century, in continuation of the surrealist tradition, based on dreams and the hidden presence and history embedded in this powerful Australian landscape.
The British Museum has a fantastic exhibition on at the moment, Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind. My mountaineering friend, and all round genius, Andi, over from New Zealand, just told me about it. This has reinvigorated my interest in painting dreams and the symbols the mind produces, and the interplay with landscape and the figure in the world.