designing narrative

AntonVeenstraTextiles on April 7, 2011 Edit

Christopher Heathcote, artist, cultural critic and art historian, writing about modernism, declared that a realist pictorial image had become impossible to construct after Paul Cezanne’s work. We use vignettes, quotes, appropriations or homages, fragments to piece together narrative. Anything but what can be seen through a camera, although that instrument is no longer a secure cultural standard, with its digital properties and virtual edit suites.

I constructed an assemblage of fragments: firstly a reclining viewer, the narrator, perhaps in a dream sequence; his hair sweeps into the turbulence of the background. At the time I was living on Elizabeth Bay Road, near Rushcutters’ Park, and my favourite natural architecture was the sprawled Moreton Bay Fig, whose languidly collapsing limbs comprised long swathes of gestures. At the far right was a figure ambiguously shielding himself from the unfolding event. Originally a photo of an individual hoisted to shoulder level in a mob of rowdies, the abbreviated figure seemed to me to fit with the alternating light and shade, the calm and panic of the tree-scape.

In the early 1970′s when I attended James Cook Uni, Townsville, its park on the Esplanade was also planted with huge fig trees, inhabited by fruit bats. I wrote a poem about a shadowy procession among the low branches where “suddenly the shadows fell with a bat-shriek”. It was my blurred homage to Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire: the pallid washer woman and an alternation of languid and hysterical imagery, swift, slow, sweet, sour, adazzle, dim.

People have made assessments at exhibition viewings; it seems to me that craft audiences observe the proprieties of depiction more rigidly than followers of the painted surface. Comments ran along the lines that abbreviated figures seemed mangled or tortured. Worlds of speculation open there.

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About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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