The Elusive Obvious
Updated: Sep 2
The Balcony years
If I smoked cigarettes I could sit outside on my shitty balcony smoking and look at other people opposite sitting on their shitty balconies smoking who are looking at my shitty balcony. But I don’t smoke.
When I wrote this observation I was as miserable at it sounds.
The last time I rented in Darwin was 2015. The demand for housing was high, making affordable housing not so affordable and pickings were very slim. This resulted in me signing a lease for the ugliest apartment I had ever seen. It was so ugly that I felt the need to apologise in advance to anyone who visited. It wasn’t just the 1970s decor with the offensive geometric floor tiles with three tones of brown including a splattering of what could have easily passed for fresh diarrhoea, but it was the outside too. It was a soulless three level apartment block and every window looked out on other soulless concrete boxes. The balcony only brought the views closer.
I do believe positivity can be found in most situations and I tried really hard to transform this little box into a pleasant home and studio space. I knew there were people who would have done anything to live in this ugly apartment, but despite all my positive thinking I began a downward spiral. Even the fact that I felt so low was accompanied with a feeling of guilt for feeling that way.
But of course it wasn’t just the apartment. It was me. And such is the law of the universe; when everything feels wrong things start going wrong and when the ship starts sinking sometimes the water level is too great and the bucket too small. I began having trouble at the markets and reacting badly to the dust that was generated from the car park paddock. I also started reacting really badly to any chemicals, smoke, fumes, perfumes etc. I was becoming a girl who needed to live in a bubble. As council and market committee hand balled responsibility for containing the car park dust by means of watering the paddock nothing was done and the problem worsened. So I gave up the market that I loved and that had given me so much and I sank into a massive depression that I couldn’t shake. I felt like I was drowning and the girl I once was had vanished forever. And she had.
So I did what I always do. I painted. I painted because I didn’t know what else to do. I painted to escape. But this time I felt I had no stories to tell, so I started to make them up. I spent my days elsewhere in my mind, each day it was as if I was walking into a film set. I painted a lot in that apartment, and it was interesting because even though the stories were far removed from my reality, they also reflected my immediate environment of straight lines, buildings and corners. I was searching for meaning, for a message, a way out. Part of me felt that if I just kept thinking then it would all make sense - just one of my many mistakes. Looking back things are always so obvious. The future is always just out of reach and so was born the Elusive Obvious.
I have never really examined the characters and symbols in this painting but there is a loose connection to a Danish ancestor on my mother’s side of the family who may or may not have had viking blood. And the writing on the wall related to a grand idea I had of becoming a street artist, but my problems with chemical sensitivity were certainly proving to be a block to that. And the horse? Well just because. And if you look closely there is a merry go round in the cafe. I guess that is the ride I was on.
In 2016 I packed all my belongings and closed the door of this apartment for the last time and headed south. But I didn’t get off the merry go round. Things didn’t magically get better. Unfortunately life is not a movie.