Fortunately I added these images while they were still on the walls at the Leichhardt studio. Most of them were destroyed in the studio cleanout.  It’s amazing to think how much time and effort went into these paintings, and the absolute uselessness of painting, especially painting badly.  But if you don’t paint badly, you don’t learn to paint at all. Perhaps the message is, unless you are willing to start painting at the beginning of your life, and devote yourself to it, you might as well not bother. Still looking at them now there is a certain naive charm and interest to them.

Cliff at Govett's Leap (detail)
Cliff at Govett’s Leap (detail)

When I think of the fate of these paintings it reminds me of the flimsy grip on existence which is the fate of almost all artistic works throughout human history. The biggest exception is the rock art scattered in remote places across the globe, the remaining traces of little understood cultural expression deriving from the first 100,000 years of homo sapiens.  Paintings in earth materials, ochres, chalks, charcoal – hands stencilled on walls, animal figures, hunters, spears – elements of everyday life made sacred by being represented. What was in the minds of these earliest artists? Was artistic creation coded into the human genome? Is that why we just seem to be unable not to paint, at least some of us, in every time and place? Does mark-making lie at the deepest levels of the unconscious?