We got in touch with local painter Dawn Wood, who had set up her Open Studio in the Perth Subud Centre in September 2019. We had a short discussion about the benefits of art in times of doubt, how this has assisted her in the creative process, and its overall relevance with the situation we all find ourselves in.
I don’t know what I’m painting and how It’s going to turn out really, but to me it’s like working through something chaotic and unknown, with the end result eventually culminating in some sort of resolution.
That sounds like it fits with the current situation quite well. Does that give you more inspiration?
It’s not that it’s inspiration. In the way that i paint- this trust that even though you are in chaos, something better will emerge…I like that perspective, as I see it being something to depend on. And there were a lot of things that were of value to me at the time that were disappearing. That’s what led me to start painting again in a more abstract way.
I feel very much like that now as well. I mean, I’ve painted butterflies and flowers, but it’s always good to change and keep moving.
We asked Dawn about the usefulness of this practice overall in times of crisis.
I would say to anybody who’s thinking about taking up painting, or who does paint- it takes bravery. You have to be brave. You need to be certain with that ‘ i have nothing to lose ‘ mindset. To know that you can step outside your own ego and have the time to engage with it.
Like meditation as well almost, it can take you somewhere else entirely. Beyond your immediate concerns and sense of ’small-self’, and that’s why i think it’s worth doing.
So the process of detaching from your ego- You mean the inner critic and the fact that it holds people back?
Yes totally. Examples of my inner critic often go ‘aw don’t waste paint!’, ‘that looks terrible’, ‘don’t do that!’.
I mean, I do ruin paint brushes! but when overcoming this I find it to be such a cathartic process.
The expectations with success were also a point that Dawn mentioned could arise when engaged with a creative project. Although, she offered ways of counteracting that.
Have a dialogue with the painting.
If you rest with it long enough, then it suggests to you what the next step will be. That may come in the realisation that I need to add a new colour, or make changes to a shape that doesn’t sit well with the overall idea.
I take in all these thoughts one step at a time.
Like meditation as well almost, it can take you somewhere else entirely.
Even with the closure of schools, libraries, print studios and other important creative spaces, notable constraints with access to facilities didn’t stop Dawn from finding alternative ways to be creative.
I actually had started ceramics before the lockdown had imposed its restrictions. As a result of all this, I couldn’t access the collective or the materials I needed, and so that allowed me to focus on finishing these two abstract pieces I started at the end of last year.
I hadn’t actually done abstract since about 2005! So, it’s been a massive joy to me. Regardless if it was the clays I was initially focusing on.
You showed me those pieces and i wasn’t sure if that was inspired by recent events, or if it was something you just decided to commit to recently?
Yeah I did the open studios and doors open day at the Centre last year and it was wonderful having the opportunity to visit and showcase my work there. But i thought i’d exhibit again this coming year and wanted to think of it more as a formal exhibition. So specifically, for those reasons, i produced the larger pieces i sent over to you.
Eagerly anticipating the opportunity to welcome Dawn back to the centre, we have unfortunately been let down by our expectations and are looking to reschedule events.