Tiliqua Tiliqua presents Stephen Gill’s explosive paintings, quirky sculptures, and sublime jewellery alongside Lisa Sharkey’s divine luminous photographs of Peony flowers.
First and foremost, I want to thank my dear friend Lisa Sharkey, whose diligence and hard work made this show happen. It is not the first time Lisa, with her uncanny intuition has reached out and pulled me back from oblivion.
Hineni Hineni is the opening chorus for the song ‘You Want it Darker’ by Leonard Cohen. Hineni is a very ancient Hebrew word meaning ‘Here I Am’. This body of work emerged after a life changing event. It is a responding, affirmation that ‘Here’ I Am’ and I have something to say.
Enamel on copper was my very first introduction to the creative arts. It was the beginning of a world of discovery. It taught me how to use colour to design and the importance of composition. It was the gateway to the arts, drawing, painting and making. This new collection is a return to that beginning.
The sculptures in this exhibition express a more whimsical side of my art practice.They are made from found and discarded materials, rubbish washed up on the beach by the tide. They are mostly just fun, but some emerge as allegories.
My paintings come from an impulse that I can’t explain – a compulsive attempt to make visible the invisible.
The works in this exhibition are structured by overlaying random grid patterns juxtaposed with larger more controlled sweeps of paint, creating a structural dynamic on the surface.
Specks of primary colour splashed across the surface give an illusion of movement and space to the compositions. The contrasting dense black lines and the open white spaces create an allusion at space and appear to radiate light from behind the veil.
The first Peony that I photographed was gifted to me by my daughter Tula, who is a florist and lover of beauty. I was entranced by its fullness a sense of abundance in its ruffles and the Coral colour was captivating.
I photographed them daily whilst recovering my health, each day a new surprise emerged from the folds of its petals. As it bloomed, it unfolded more to reveal its sensuous golden yellow stamens and later the carpel, the Peonies ovaries, a cluster of four individual capsules apparently bulging with seeds. Frilled, fuchsia-coloured tips emerging from the green carpels.
Daily the flower continued to open and transform in its dance of time reminding me of Buddhist teachings.
“There are times to cultivate and create, when you nurture your world and give birth to new ideas and ventures. There are times of flourishing and abundance, when life feels in full bloom, energized and expanding. And there are times of fruition, when things come to an end. They have reached their climax and must be harvested before they begin to fade. And finally, of course, there are times that are cold, and cutting and empty, times when the spring of new beginnings seems like a distant dream. Those rhythms in life are natural events. They weave into one another as day follows night, bringing, not messages of hope and fear, but messages of how things are.”
― Chogyam Trungpa
As days passed its beautiful rich deep pink changed to a peachy tone then paler soft pink becoming more translucent in the light that was beaming into my room. Eventually fading to parchment colour then cream and finally white. The guard petals relaxing their duty of supporting the Peony, allowing the petals to fall, to my eye, they resembled feathers.
Captivated by Peonies I was gifted another by my friend Margaret and others I gifted to myself bought from my local florist If Florist in Maroubra. My rapture and ‘Peony gazing’ continued until the window of their short blooming season came to a close.
Peony Facts & Trivia
- Some names of Peonies are Coral Charm, Sarah Bernhardt, Claire De Lune, Shirley Temple.
- Some other fun facts are Peonies open up to three times their original size.
- The plants live 100 years or more and have been around since 1000 BC.
- Their roots are prized as medicine and seed pods considered most valuable.
- Peony calms spasms in the hands and feet, whooping cough, abdominal spasms, nervous twitches, spasms of the genitourinary tract, smooth muscle spasms; especially uterine cramping, angina, and migraine headaches. Peony has been used extensively with women’s reproductive health.
- And the petals can be used in culinary as well. There is a great deal of mythology about Peonies but my favourite is that Utagawa Kuniyoshi, a master of Ukiyo-E woodblock prints, depicted rebel warriors with Peony tattoos.