I haven’t painted very much recently. This is my latest completed painting. (approx. 60cm x 60cm)
Sukumaran led an art studio for his fellow prisoners during his time in Kerobokan prison, where he was mentored since 2012 by celebrated war artist Ben Quilty.
Sukumaran was recently awarded an associate degree in fine arts by Curtin University.
What can I say about the imminent deaths of two former drug smugglers who have cleary turned their lives around since they were sentenced years ago?
Pastor Andrew Chan is one of two Australians whose execution in Indonesia is imminent. About 10 years ago Chan was found guilty of helping organise the export of heroin from Indonesia to Australia. He was found to be the leader of a group afterwards known as the Bali 9, who were picked up at the airport as they were about to board a plane to Australia, They all had significant amounts of heroin bound to their bodies.
Chan and a co-organiser Myuran Sukamaran were given the death penalty while the others had lengthy prison sentences.
Since that time Chan became a follower of Jesus and trained to be a Pastor to fellow inmates within the jail. Sukamaran turned to art and has been studying for a fine arts degree through an Australian university. Within the jail he has run art classes for current and former inmates.
There is absolutely no doubt that both men have turned their lives around and have become valuable assets to the jail that has been their home for a decade, helping to change the lives of other inmates just as they turned their own lives around.
But recently Indonesia changed its President and he’s been trying to show his authority by coming down hard on those found guilty of drug crimes – irrespective of any demonstrated rehabilitation.
Now after ten years, the new President has demanded that the 10 year old death sentences be carried out. It seems that will happen some time this week.
For more details of the current situation see the following:
I recently visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to see Ben Quilty’s After Afghanistan exhibition.
I’d previously seen photos of the paintings as well as videos of him painting some of them. I had also been to the War Memorial a few months ago to see one of the series in the Afghanistan display.
Despite that familiarity, actually seeing those paintings displayed together was even better than I expected. The photos and videos were far less powerful than the paintings in person. Seeing the texture, the colour and having the ability to view them from various distances is essential to appreciating what the images convey: the lingering effect the Afghanistan experience has had on those who were stationed there.
An unexpected bonus of the visit was found in a small room at the centre of the exhibition where a collection of simple marble sculptures, displayed on plinths, commemorated the Australian servicemen who lost their lives in Afghanistan. 41 folded flags shaped out of marble have been sculpted to commemorate each of the Australian casualties of the war.
The sculptures were so realistic that to even a very close look the flags appeared to be fabric. only a light tap with my exhibition program convinced me that they were made of stone.
While sculptor Alex Seton was setting up the first exhibition of this work in Brisbane there were 23 flags representing what was then 23 deaths, but even before that exhibition opened there was news of a 24th death – so an empty plinth was set up as a temporary completion of what was an already outdated tribute. It has since required that the number of flags be almost doubled.
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
And God said to Moses “I Am Who I AM” (Ex 3)
Jesus said…”I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I Am Who I Am.” (John 13)
Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’ (Luke 1)
Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2)
What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?’ Pilate asked them.
‘Crucify him!’ they shouted. (Mark 15)
This Christmas, remember there is more to Jesus than a baby in a manger.
The Lord says to my Lord:
‘Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.’
The Lord will extend your mighty sceptre from Zion, saying,
‘Rule in the midst of your enemies!’
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendour,
your young men will come to you
like dew from the morning’s womb.
The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest for ever,
in the order of Melchizedek.’
The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way;
and so he will lift his head high.
That’s something I started to think more about this morning. I was showing Gloria one of my recent paintings and pointing out some of its features. She appreciated it much more afterwards, saying that prior to my explanation the painting looked … well I can’t remember her exact words, but they weren’t complimentary.
She now realised that there was purpose behind the painted marks and symbols, she could appreciate they had meaning and she liked the painting a lot more.
Her response raised the question of what viewers expect from art and how many are interested in something more than pretty pictures. How much effort are they willing to put into looking an art work?
In my paintings I try to express ideas related to scripture, using text and symbols. Some of those symbols may seem obscure and the casual viewer may miss their intended significance. It might be easier if a glossary of symbols was displayed next to each painting to explain what everything means, but what room would that leave for the viewer to discover things for themselves? And surely discovery is part of the joy that we can get when viewing art – as long as we are observant, patient, and give the artwork enough respect to SEE it rather than merely glance at it.