Ritual is a protocol, a guide, for that most fundamental of human needs: meaning. But when protocol loses meaning, snubbed out by the distractions of life, it is merely repetition. Baptism becomes bath, marriage a party with rings. And so on the Western world ambles, away from what was once the light, out into the secular unknown.
One wonders, in this state, if bath can become baptism - if, on meditation, the mundane can take up meaning and repetition become ritual. This is the margin I seek to explore: the contemporary quest for purpose, rite in the Australian landscape.
My own Jewish upbringing was imbued with religious traditions. All steeped in ritual, stacked with symbols...candles lit, bread covered, prayers, a feast. As much as I enjoyed the occasion, the sense of ritual, I felt disconnected from the spiritual context.
Much of my work has dealt with intimacy, with closeness and the intensity of exchange. In this series, however, the figures are largely distant. They are swamped by a landscape that informs who they are. It is Australia, though not as we always see it, and the figures seem both at home and dispossessed.
The intimacy is in that nexus - the exchange with space heightened by the seeming disconnect between figures and landscape, of man struggling with nature by losing his connection to it. This is a disconnect both from contemporary landscape and contemporary pace. From nature I borrow a sense of occasion, of unformalised spirituality, what the Romanticists knew as divinity. It is, after all, the wild in which we inevitably seek deeper meaning.
In life, we grapple endlessly with ever familiar themes: purification, reflection, vanity, consummation, mortality. Here I construct a world with deliberate observations, much as myth is a construct for learning. But the construct is also aesthetic and the debt to Neo-Classicist John William Waterhouse - his sense of beauty, mythology, the mystery and sensuality of his women.
Ritualism delves into the shared desire to understand our existence and our mortality, the purpose ritual holds in explaining moments of life, to mark them and imbue them with meaning.