The Lure of Unrealised Desire 1993-1994

This was a transformational series that may have reflected my own sense of finality when I turned fifty.  I use the term 'transformational' because these images came into being in quite a different way and from quite a different source than any work I had previously done.  The processes I used to make the images did not involve a camera or film.  I worked like an archaeologist digging up materials, giving them a fresh life and a new meaning. 

My art, from 1970, was supported through teaching photography in collage and university art schools in California and in Australia.  I lectured at the South Australian School of Art in Adelaide for 24 years.  At some point in the early 1990s I noticed that many students, while printing in the darkroom, would partially develop their test strips for a black and white print, realise it was not quite right, and throw it, unfixed, into the rubbish bin.  These image fragments, still sensitive to light, stuck together with other scraps of paper, gained oddly expressive marks and shapes and were altered by a cocktail of chemical reactions .  On exposure to light these image fragments also acquired some colour —pinks, blues, magentas, oranges, and yellows. 

There was a potential treasure trove of images to be found there.  I saved the ones that interested me and I began to enlarge and enhance the image fragments of interest on a colour photo-copier. 

During the previous few years I had been visiting indigenous art sites in Australia and around the world — Egypt, France, Scotland, Ireland, the US (Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico).  In the process of this experience and the extensive reading I did related to my travels I developed the instincts of an amateur archaeologist and, in part, digging through the day's rubbish from the darkroom satisfied that interest.  This became my dig-site.

My archaeological instincts combined with my long term interest in Carl Jung's concepts around myth and the collective unconscious were aroused by what I found in the rubbish.  Encouraged by Jungian references, during this time, I read Dante's The Divine Comedy and later Faust by Goethe.  While reading these two books certain images that I had collected seemed to fit into particular aspects of, or scenes in, the narrative.

Both of these books are quite complex works of literature and my images as a group don't begin to touch on their complexity.  Probably these images make the most sense as signs or metaphors, something like looking at Tarot cards.  I find them to be provocative images that activate my psyche and spark my imagination. 

The title I chose for this series, The Lure of Unrealised Desire, came from the Buddhist idea that human suffering is connected with 'desire'.  Desire, in this context, includes anything that we might wish for consciously or unconsciously.  It may be a friendship, a love relationship, a job, some achievement, or peace of mind.  This type of suffering is, I suspect, exclusively human and something that we each must evolve with and evolve through.

The first two images on the website show how all of the artworks were framed when they were shown in the early 1990s.  The second image with the same artwork includes a figure to indicate the scale of this artwork and the other artworks in the series.