“Just Landed”. The title of this drawing refers to me just as much as to the tern sitting on the concrete. I have recently returned from overseas. An unexpected result of the trip is that I am seeing my own area with fresh and appreciative eyes. The idea to look around Fremantle Port actually came from a dream a couple of weeks ago. In the dream I was on the bow of a ship looking for subject matter around the port. I am therefore following the directive from my subconscious.
I wanted to be on the same level as the tern so I had to prostrate myself on the cold dirty concrete – getting my head and camera as low as possible. At embarrassing times like this I tell myself “Who cares what I look like. Artist at work!” It was an extremely blustery day. Even the tern looks a little wind-blown. He is so round that I wonder if he is young. “Just Landed” could also refer to his arrival on this earth – ie not so long out of egg.
I visited some cities on my last trip which I didn’t particularly take to. Without naming names let me say that having experienced them, I see my own home in a new light. When one goes overseas to Paris and Kyoto, one comes back wanting to draw Paris and Kyoto – but – when one travels to some other [harsh or soulless] places one wants to draw home again. Just as a colour appears to change depending upon its surrounding colours, so the perception of one’s own place may be influenced by one’s recent exterior experiences.
I’ve always liked Fremantle’s port…and ports in general. I painted and drew Fremantle’s waterfront extensively from 1998 to 2004. My sights changed and I didn’t think I would make art from local landscapes again. However – what goes around comes around. Once more I want to draw it but I need either (or both) of two elements; intimacy and/or elegance. Hard to find those in a port setting – unless – you add the humble seabird. Hence, I’ve been out with my camera for several days last week seeking my subjects. I tell you it is NO DIFFERENT trying to get photos of seabirds than trying to get photos of geisha. In both cases one is playing with chance, good fortune, being in the right place at the right time and trying to compose when your subject is moving quickly; there one second and gone the next. Seabirds and geisha don’t wait for photographers.
Speaking of geisha, in my last drawing “Observation”, Katsuyuki was observing a white heron. Perhaps working on that drawing also quietly influenced me to revisit birds.
My plan is to do a series of birds-at-Fremantle drawings. This should please some West Australians as from time to time people ask me wistfully if I will return to birds and Fremantle. I say “no” but really the answer is that I can’t do it until my heart is back in it – which it is. For now.
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