This is one of my earlier pieces and the Six Swans are brothers who have been turned into swans by an enchantress. In order to save them their sister must pick dry and weave special shirts made from Star Flowers all the while taking a vow of silence for six years while she weaves them. She herself is the victim of evil as her mother in law steals the young womans babies and, accusing her of killing and eating them, the girl is sentenced to be burnt at the stake. At the last moment while she is about to be burned the six years are up, the brothers fly in, she throws the shirts over them and they are transformed back into men. She is free to speak and tells the king about the evil done to her. They are all reunited and the evil queen killed.
In the background I have painted the house I grew up in and had in mind my six sisters. I’ve never picked star flowers or been silent!
About the Artist
I’ve come and gone from Australia many times, living and working in other countries as an IB teacher but always drawn and painted, exhibiting in Portugal, Spain and here of course. My travels have exposed me to many cultures, languages, stories and people who love to tell them in every possible way. I love to tell stories too and so I am a painter but the voice of the illustrator and cartoonist in me is never far away from making itself heard.
Mostly my work concerns itself with narratives, symbols and metaphors and my exploration of the power of the narrative as a published writer has led me to this theme of the Grimm’s Brothers fairy tales. I love the darkness and drama of the stories with their universal themes and magical possibilities. In them we see heroes, victims, violence, magic, the triumph of goodness over evil embodied in such stories as Hansel and Gretel, The Fisherman and his Wife, Cinderella and Snow White to name a few. I wanted to focus to some extent on the important details of a story. Puss with his buoyant independence striding across the field, Cinderella looking through the window into other people’s lives, Red Riding Hood bursting into an adult’s world and we don’t know what she saw. There is always the negative space, the unknown we fill in with our own context.
These works are done on a variety of grounds, mostly 640 gm Fabriano Artistico paper, linen, heavy Italian canvas, cradled birch panels using shellac based ink, acrylic ink, egg tempera, Sennelier oil paints, watercolours and pastel pencils. They are professionally framed by Henna St Framers and all use archival materials to preserve the works.
The inks and drawings demand different skills from the oils and so every work seems like wrestling an image from the surface of the terrifying depths of the blank canvas or paper. Like many artists, I’m rarely satisfied and often leave a piece to go back to it and fiddle with details, even erasing it and working over the top. It is very true for me that a painting isn’t finished, it’s abandoned!