Artist Statement 2021

I’ve been looking at inner Sydney fig trees. They appear as modern, rough, and as urban as the human residents, with their tattoos, scars, clipped toes, and botched surgeries. Small leaf figs? Hills figs? Indigenous? Skilled migrants? Who were their ancestors? Their names and origins are confused, hardly known or mentioned. Massive, industrial and hardy, they’ve lined up for decades beside factory walls or stood alone at dull highway intersections where concrete laps their roots. 

Even during the 2020 Covid lockdown, I could always visit my favourite figs, an old married couple at Salmon Playground on Station Street, Newtown.  Drawing their thick marked boughs feels like drawing the lines of my cheeks and eye sockets in the bathroom mirror. 

My recent work tries to look right in their faces and recognise the kinship between these anthropomorphic trees and my arboreal self-portraits. We’re pretty close, really.

Most of my drawings and paintings are built from a rubble foundation of collaged remnants of my previous artmaking. Working over a layer of old prints and drawings acknowledges I’m never starting from scratch. Everything we see and do is many-layered; and my contribution–however sincere–is as haphazard and predetermined as it is intentional.