Understory

Understory – Tasmania
By Lily Mae Martin
56 x 76cm
Ink on paper
2017

This isn’t the first drawing I have started that was inspired by my recent stay in Western Tasmania, but it is the first to be finished. It was very hard to finish. I’m trying to let the lines speak more – keep the mark making looser. Trying not to go over and over them – render, render, render..

There are parts I feel that I have achieved this more than others, and I am very happy with the results. This is such a depareture from the starkness – the nakedness – of the nudes. There’s so much going on and yet my eyes are lulled into the movement of light and dark. Having the same calming effect on me as listening to white noise. It feels, it is, a different world. And I keep dreaming about it too – behind my eyelids I am back there looking at everything growing out, on, of everything. A branch falls and the tip stabs itself back into the soft earth, and then things grow from it. Evidence that there was movement long ago but this place just readjusted, took it back into itself. A process that took many, many years but time is different there. Everything is different there. I am different there.

Now I am in my studio but part of me still feels like it is there. I must go back to Tasmania, but in what shape that’ll take will have to be seen. It’s just time to make the work now.

Artworks for sale

Hello there – I have a number of artworks that are framed and avalible for sale at Scott Livesey Galleries in Melbourne. I thought I’d put together a post with their details and if you are interested please contact the gallery on T: +61 3 9824 7770 or email at INFO@SCOTTLIVESEYGALLERIES.COM

First up, the landscapes
Haunted – 56 x 76cm, ink on paper, 2017

Waterloo State Forest, View From Back – 105 x 75cm, ink on paper, 2016

In The Gully, 56 x 76cm, ink on paper, 2016

Then – the nudes – these vary in sizes

As yet untitled, 56 x 76cm, ink on paper, 2017

As yet untitled, 56x76cm, ink on paper, 2017

Rebirth, 75 x 105cm, ink on paper, 2017

Ride, 30 x 30cm, ink on paper, 2016

Dancer, 30 x 30cm, ink on paper, 2016

There are more, if you follow this link: Lily Mae Martin at Scott Livesey Galleries

This town, Queenstown

It’s well into the second week of this residency and I have been so sick. I hardly ever get sick! But after a day of drawing from something AM to something AM.. I ran myself well and truly into the ground. I’ve not felt human since Sunday and only yesterday afternoon – whilst walking near Cradle Mountain – did I relearn the joys of breathing out of both nostrils. Yay to not feeling like death warmed up. Yay – no more fever dreams!

I’m tackling the paint and the paper and some of the original ideas that I had are not turning out as planned. Not to panic though, I’ve been doing this art making thing long enough to know that this is just the way it rolls. But to think that this residency, in a rather isolated town on the west coast of Tasmania, was just going to challenge my art practice alone is limited thinking. This is challenging my very being. I’m not used to being alone, there’s usually always someone asking me something somewhere or tugging at my sleeve or in more recent times – asking me questions over the intercom system my amazing Gene had installed. To say that I miss them just doesn’t seems to do these heavy feelings justice.
My life was not a life until I had my family. I made a calender for my kid to count down the days until we see each other again and I think that I need it more than her!

Not to get caught up in all these feels, I am trying to honour them, this time and space by being productive.
This is so hard, but I wanted this, I made this happen so I better bloody step up!

This town though, gosh. What a town. It feels interconnected and strongly so, in a way small towns often are but more so. I am just an outsider, dipping in for only five weeks so I cannot speak to it as if I have any authority but the experience so far is everyone is interested. People pop their heads into the gallery daily, ask us what we are doing, how we are going, where we are from, hey it’s bin night tonight. I walk down the street and a fella nods and says exhibition on soon? Start of June I reply. He nods and smiles and continues on his way.
They seem to make a lot of deep pan pies, none of which I have had the privilidge of trying because I don’t eat meat. It’s cold and rains most days because we are surrounded by mountains that catch the clouds, and at night – it is quiter than quite. I’ve never expereinced anything like this and so thankful that I get to.
I think it is almost impossible for me not to make art directly responding to this place. I just hope I can make something good.

The Truth of It

Around this time five years ago, I was living in Germany and I was at crisis point. I had one doctor who would listen to me and he made me promise that if and when I got to a point that I would harm myself – go to him. And I did.
He was a lovely man, he’d visited Australia many years before and brought back a whole lot of small jars of vegemite. Not because he liked it, mind you, but because he found it endearing; you Australians are the only people who eat this he would say. He gave me the last small jar that he had.

On this day that I went to him I can’t remember what I said, I can’t remember how I got myself there but I did and he made a few phone calls, told me in his calm and reassuring voice that I was not ok and it was time to do something about that. He wrote a letter, tucked it into an envelope and gave me the directions to the hospital. ( Just down the street, make a small left and walk along the canal a little bit. )

They took me in right away. I had a long conversation with a firm but kind woman. She made sure that I knew they were here to help, but she needed me to promise that if I was going to harm/ kill myself that I tell someone first – there are other sick people in here too. Which has always stuck with me – our actions affect others. And really at the end of the day – the support can be accessed but you have to do the work. You have to.

Anyway, I won’t go into specifics – it was a long time ago now and the details have faded. Things that were important are no longer, things that stung then do not now. There are things I never have to talk about again – I feel so damn lucky for that. It’s been a long, long road and I did pick up, fall down, pick up again and fall back down, again. Meanwhile life happened through all of this.

I drew and I wrote through it all. Frantically. Not all of it was very good, I even had a blog which was very public. This was my first, huge dive into social media and writing and though there were things that I did then that I wouldn’t do now – I do not regret it.
I didn’t keep the words. There were tens of thousands of them, but I didn’t want to keep them. I have some of the drawings and they are gut wrenching enough.

I felt like back then that that point in my life – the intersection of motherhood, a deeply traumatic birth and complications after that, a personality disorder and ( mild, can it be mild? ) alcoholism split me wide open. I was so damn raw and I think far out, brussel sprout I must have been ( no, I know I was ) so fucking difficult to deal with. I was so damn selfish, just trying to survive. Everything was at crisis point, all the time. I couldn’t even handle when baby got sick and cried in the night. That’s when you know it ain’t right – when you can’t even do the normal stuff of life.

My mental health has been something people have been throwing in my face and using against me for years, and the more I read about other people’s experiences with their own mental health, I know this to be common. Whatever the reason for that to be is other people’s business, but I think it is deeply reflective on them. If someone has depression, doesn’t mean they have delusions. If someone has delusions, doesn’t mean they make stuff up to get attention. When someone is mentally unwell, it doesn’t make them a bad person. These things do not need to be said but then again, they do.

Motherhood is an experience I will probably be unpacking for the rest of my life. I think that is mostly due to the barriers that are pre exisiting to my stepping into it and reinforced by people and media every day. I don’t think we are ready to deal with the truth of it because we can’t even say vagina – we can’t even talk about women’s experience of the world. There are so many things about it that make me feel isolated, I still can’t articulate it all, and I’m not sure that I want to. I see birth culture and I don’t even know where to start – I just shut down and shut it off – just fuck off.

I will never do it again, this is a deep truth I know of myself. I know many people have judged and worried over what this says about how I feel about my child. None of this has got anything to do with the child, or rather my feelings towards said child. The motherhood experince is just that, an experience. It is to do with what has come before and what is going on in the world now. The children are there, but this is not due to them.
I’m not going to add a disclaimer about my love either because that would only be there to make others feel better about this and quite honestly – only said child needs to know that.

Time to go and draw now.

Pens down, feet on the ground


I was fumbling about in the studio so I put things down and have been out and about. Autumn has been beautiful and I’ve been walking; looking at the birds and enjoying the colour of the leaves changing, watching the clouds and taking in the smoke from all of the burn offs – ’tis the season.


I’ve been reading about colour and thinking about the different was I could utilize them in artworks – all stuff I must have studied once upon a time however it has been a long time! So these thoughts have been informing the way I have been looking at the landscapes I have been trudging around in. It’s pretty amazing.


When I can’t adventure I’ve been weeding in my garden and making plans for what new friends we can grow/ get for our yard.

My Poppet is unwell this evening and I use these moments as a time to do a quick sketch!

Book in a box

A sketch I did of a very large gum tree has been bought and framed within a sketchbook. It looks like a museum piece! I am very pleased with the result and that it has gone to a very good home.

I’m feeling stuck with work – I am not good at down/ in between time. Think I ought to lay off of myself and take in some life. Much like this kangaroo friend Kidlet and I saw today:

Heart is full, legs are sore

This week has been full of hiking adventures, science magic, star moon gazing, sleepovers, animals! I hope for a super quite weekend but I love all of this stuff and am enjoying learning new things.

Cabbage water – pH indicator

So I’m too tired for words but the pictures are pretty good.
zzzzzzzz