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.

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.