Dance-maker Lucinda Coleman making dance with wily words and syllables that clamber to be stories gently moving.

Behind the Scenes

August 2013

Multi-disciplinary artist Miik Green has created a series of aesthetically beautiful artworks on aluminium panels that capture attention.  They are shiny surfaces, so the viewer has to duck and twist to see the two-dimensional, mixed-media images in the reflective panels.


The pieces are part of Miik’s Xylem Series, exhibited in Western Australia in February 2013.  

At first glance the images appear to be cross-sections of plants or even human cells.  The colours are startling; the fine asymmetrical lines too pleasing to be random brushstrokes, surely?  How did he make this? 

I discover Miik has mixed products that react and oppose one another: separating, islanding and bleeding one into the other.  Now he has my attention: what a metaphor there is in that, I think to myself!  He uses enamels, resins, inks and even radioactive matter to investigate how bringing heterogeneous, synthetic materials together can reveal the inherent qualities found in natural forms, and the world around us.  

It turns out that the resistance between these synthetic products creates unique forms and surface patterns that reference the original, organic subject matter he seeks to reveal to the viewer. As Miik explains (2013): 

 "These natural structures can be viewed through the microscope and can reveal aspects of processes that were previously unseen, and seek to reveal similar ideas of the unseen in nature using art materials. The xylem function is a process in which a plant draws water up through internal structures: viewed in cross-section, these tubes reveal an intriguing arrangement of oval shapes. To represent these structures in an art context, the materials interact with (and resist) each other to re-create forms reminiscent of these microbiological shapes."

Suddenly I look at Miik’s aluminium panels with a greater understanding of his investigation in to side effects arising from mixing diverse materials.  I’m drawn into the story of unseen detail behind the scenes of work containing unique mathematical symmetry and fractal qualities.  I discover what fractal actually means, even though I don’t really understand the physics of it (ok, I don’t get it at all)!

Still, I marvel at the detail of the spatial patterns, fragmented through the collision of different materials and am left in awe of what lies beyond that which I can see with my natural eye. 

Reference: Green, M. 2013 Spillover exhibition notes. Linton and Kay Galleries, Perth, Western Australia.

Image: Xylem Series - Avium 6’ (surface detail). Mixed media on aluminium, 185 x 185cm, 2012. Image: Ben Phillips,

Artist: Miik Green 



Propinquity of the Yellow Balloon

July 2013

I walk by the river. 

I get an idea. I type it to myself on my phone, to follow up later.  I think of a friend.  I send a text message, eyes fixed on my device.  I walk the path, peripheral vision engaged to avoid stumbling.  Motley shadows from leafy sentries obscure my screen.  I know I see better with my back to the sun.  Must shift direction.  I keep clicking on numbers as I feel the rise of a hill beneath my feet.  I can’t look up.  I’m too busy capturing thoughts in fragments of snatched letters: often random.  I pause.  Look up.

A yellow balloon is caught in the high branches of an old tree.  How unexpected!  Something colourful and full of hope: caught.  Trapped in a tangle of twigs, it quivers yet is stuck.  Sunlight glances off the shiny surface, scattering golden light.  I stop walking to arc my neck further back:  to see further up. There is a bird’s nest in the uppermost branches of another tree.  It’s empty.  The birds have flown: their home installation art now left to the elements of weather and time.

The shapes of leaves, outlined by blue sky sparkle with reflected light.  My neck aches. Galahs squawk.  Flashes of pink and grey collide with yellow.  Rubbing my neck, I glance at the curve of green hill, littered with splintered browns and shredded ghost gum greys.

I notice shadows and then bodies attached, ambling happily through a sunny day.  I smile at a stranger who smiles back.  I put the phone on silent and drop it in my pocket.  I walk.  Look down.  I see an oddly shaped stone.  I pick it up, cradling the smooth surface in my hand and decide I should have a phone-free day once a week.  I think of you, dressed in yellow; scattering golden light as you quiver in places unexpected, waiting to be discovered.  Remember.  I think of you and remember.

I carry you with me, deep within my pocket, at the bottom of my footfall, in every cloud that brushes by… (Kylie Johnson).

heart quote 

The Occluded Front

June 2013

With the changing of the seasons, we pay more attention to weather patterns.  A cold front moves in and we know there is likely to be cooler temperatures and heavy rainfall. We pop the umbrella in the work bag.  A warm front means a little more moisture in the air but we still hang the washing on the clothes line.

When the warm air collides with the cold air, we see frontal wedging in which air particles are forced upwards and condense into water droplets.  It could mean rain or even a thunderstorm- or perhaps a cyclone.  Or maybe there is just the formation of clouds that drift along and shadow other parts of the continent we live on.

Along the boundary of these warm and cold fronts, there is a battle for supremacy which sometimes results in a stationary front where there is no real movement, little precipitation and everything stalls.  This reminds me of a lot of conversations had over lots of different cups of coffee, tea or late night drinks.  Dialogue is rapid and entertaining though perspectives on a range of issues move very little; each person quite comfortable communicating along the frontline of their own ideas.

Sometimes when a cold front catches up to a warm front there is a wrapping and lengthening of the warm air around the low centre.  As they move together, they generate a new front through the process of occlusion.  The air mass behind the occluded front can be either warm or cold.  Inevitably a great variety of weather can be found along this occluded front.  This is unsettling, a little like when our conversational fronts merge and we discover a lengthening and wrapping around each other’s ideas through shared dialogue.

My own front, which I think of as this primary site of communication can sometimes blow hot or cold across the landscape of our shared environment. Sometimes I don’t even know where or how my front is moving or why the weather around me has changed so rapidly, but in the midst of it all, I like to think that my front could catch up with your front and through occlusion we could discover what lies beyond the boundary of your ideas and mine.




Why Cloud-walkers need parachutes

May 2013

nefelibata (n.) lit. ‘cloud-walker’- one who lives in the clouds of their own imagination or dreams; dreamer

Arts practitioners are sometimes reluctant to give explanations for their creative work.  The artistic nefelibata who sidesteps conventions of genre to dwell in a dream world, shuns a verbal articulation of meaning embedded in creative work.

Do artists need to be able to offer an apologetic for their work and their practice?

I believe we do!  How else will there be a conversation between artist and audience that enables each to be enriched in the understanding of creative processes?  How else do we learn from the discoveries of others?  I suggest this is because the performance outcome or exhibition of an art work is only part of the story of creative practice.  For there to be the wondrous ephemeral beauty of connectivity between artist and audience, we need as Flannery O’Connor has observed to find “a symbol and a way of lodging it” (Fitzgerald 1969:156) which enables us to communicate our insights with clarity.

Arguably, the more moving the work, the more intriguing the story of making the work and presumably, the more the creative artist wants the work to be understood.  If the artist can give a clear articulation of the creative processes that drove the practitioner to explore in the first place, the more revelatory the dialogue about the work.

Art has the potential to reveal and invite and challenge and gently, gently woo us to consider what lies beyond the choreography, the paint, or the pages of the novel.  Creative work invites engagement- and some might argue, understanding on multiple levels.  So is it perhaps just fear that if we talk about the work, the language will diminish the artistry, reducing it to less than what we think it is- or should be?

I think it’s important to tuck yourself away when you wander on the clouds of your own wonderful imagination.  Float and dream as you drift on the wispy heights of your dreamscape to make and explore and create.   However, at some point, strap on a parachute woven from the colour and light and substance of your making and bravely jump!  Soar on the currents of contemporary discourse about culture as you plummet towards the concrete world in which people live and move and have their being.

Let your ideas: the wonderful discovery of something that is uniquely yours, make sense to those of us who have not had the benefit of cloud-walking with you; of seeing what you could see from that vantage point.  Then as you hit the ground running, talk to me.  Let our shared dialogue be seasoned with both the faith and action of our deepest insights, so that we might learn together.


                                                                                                             Michael Leunig:



Fitzgerald, S., & Fitzgerald, R. (Eds.). (1969). Flannery O'Connor Mystery and Manners Occasional Prose. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

the borrowed voice

April 2013

Life by its very nature is dialogic. To live means to participate in dialogue: to
ask questions, to heed, to respond, to agree, and so forth (Bakhtin: 293).

China: today. I am in the Gallery. It is cold. I crouch on the floor to look at my notes for the dance class I am about
to teach. Out of the corner of my eye is the movement of a small child.

I look up. The little girl sliding towards me on her belly is about 4 years old. Her cropped black hair frames a round face and tentative smile. She only speaks Chinese. I only speak English. China_girl_lucid

We consider each other.

I reach for another sheet of paper and a pen. She waits. I draw a smiley face on her paper. She draws the shape of a fat peach with a jagged line through the centre and then looks up at me. I draw a cat that looks like a skunk. She draws a series of inter-connected lines and shapes that gobble up my images.

Thoughtfully, we consider each other.

She draws an arc and looks at me. I draw around her line, copying the shape. She smiles and draws a line around my own. I begin a new line from the end of hers and we continue our conversation with long sweeps and short scribbles until she
discovers the pen makes a clicking sound.

Eyes smiling, we agree to click our pens in unison and then with two distinct rhythms. She throws her pen in the air. I copy. She giggles and we throw and toss; drop and roll: click, flick, let go, catch and swap hands to throw again.

Her pen flies into her face, a small black line unexpectedly drawn on the end of her nose. I laugh and point at her nose. I lick my finger and rub my nose. She understands but instead of copying me, reaches for my hand. With her own small fingers she lifts my fist holding a pen to make a mark on my own nose so that we are the same.

Together we consider the marks made all the while laughing out loud. After a while we then each lick the tip of a
finger and eyes inter-locked, rub the lines from our noses.

The laughter propels us to our feet and she takes hold of my ipod. I press play. Music fills the space and we follow each other: laughing, listening and talking as we dance.

“In this dialogue a person participates wholly and throughout his whole life: with his eyes, lips, hands, soul, spirit, with
his whole body and deeds. He invests his entire self in discourse, and this discourse enters into the dialogic fabric of human life, into the world symposium” (Bakhtin: 293).

Image taken by Katie Chown in China