I shifted again back to painting after working with found objects and recycled materials for so many years.
I was asked by a significantly major recycling company in Australia to draw up certain public art proposals for works that were intended for placement outside buildings and factories throughout Australia.
When I toured one particular factory I noticed that their plastic fabricating machines were pumping out what are called purges at the end of a run.

These were like big blobs that would be squeezed out of the machine to clean the machine at the end of the day or week. I found these objects immeasurably interesting and immensely intriguing.

I proceeded to collect a number of these objects that were either destined for a landfill or for recycling and chose to exalt them on plinths in my studio. I then created a series of paintings about these plastic objects. This got me back into painting again, almost accidentally. The public art projects never went forward because of financial difficulties on the part of the companies, but in the meantime I had re-entered the realm of paint.

As a direct result of painting for an extended period of time, I began a series of paintings reflecting my daily walk around the lighthouse in Byron Bay. Essentially I ended up painting seascapes and landscapes of beaches that I had spent the previous twelve to fifteen years picking plastics up off. It was an interesting turn of events. I remember telling the media during the mid-nineties that I hoped one day I would stop making art out of found plastics because the beaches were clean.

Although the beaches around my hometown are a lot cleaner these days due to community effort and general environmental consciousness, on a worldwide scale ocean-litter has gotten much worse. Nowadays, I wouldn’t be able to create the kind of found object works from collecting plastics off the local Byron Bay beaches, because there are thankfully not enough plastics on these beaches anymore.
My paintings of landscapes and seascapes were not intended as pretty pictures. They are edgy and infused with a sense of urgency. These paintings have in a sense, a kind of foreboding as regards the current ecological crisis. We exist in a state of urgency. We don’t know how long we’re going to be fortunate enough to have our planet as a life-giving place that is healthy enough to support life.

It’s great to not feel any restriction with what I create. I’m enjoying going with the flow with my creativity. I had quite a large amount of it in storage, and it’s been great to get it out and work it into some interesting sculptures – sculptures that I’ve not ever seen before. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. It might be that I decide on another journey and collect driftwood from especially remote locations. Or I might go to New York and have an epiphany in the presence of Mark Rothko’s paintings. The future is wide open. One thing I do know is that I am being asked increasingly to write essays and statements for major organizations about my vision for the future and on art and the environment in general.

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