Scar: stories of the earth

Scar: stories of the earth, 2006
An essay

By Jack Randell

Kim V Goldsmith artist painting
Kim V. Goldsmith, A time before us, 2006, mixed media on 28 canvases, 51.5 x 76cm

In Louth, I held a millstone in the belly of my hand. This small dark oval of basalt arranged its polarities in the web of skin and bone as if by magnetic memory. I had the immediate sense of its specific history as a highly regarded companion of the human species. I knew the work it had done, the soft skin of the palms of mothers and grandmothers, the distances travelled and the passing of knowledge from one generation to another.

This object was part of a station collection which included spear points, flints and the like, gathered by the new land keepers. There was no notation or specific identification; they were gathered as curiosities in this Darling River country of grey dust and black mud.

The story I felt when handling the millstone was transmitted by the aesthetics of inference. Small, accurate detail. Not a movie length feature. Of course extrapolation can go wrong at times, and if this story is offensive to your sensibilities, for that I apologise. But it happened to me and I like that it happened.

The wet blues, velvet burgundies and egg yolk yellows of Kim V. Goldsmith’s palette are of small, accurate detail. You may scar your retina looking for the whole story of what Goldsmith is telling. But like a good journey anywhere, the whole is never as memorable as the bits of it. Goldsmith’s formality is a sequential aesthetic. We are offered portions of a total, sometimes in a grid, like Rosalie Gasgoine, sometimes refused by wire, proving evidence of the observer as well as the observed.

The internationally acclaimed, Dr Paula Dawson, on a recent visit to the region, observed that artists bring to society a privileged gaze. Artists arrange things, observe relationships and detail that are commonly overlooked. In looking at this new work of Kim V. Goldsmith, I am inclined to pull up more often, and re-visit some known fact, toss it in the palm of my memory and see what sequences in the stories of the land have become blurred or inverted. The co-founder of permaculture, David Holmgren has said that the next half century will be defined by a reappraisal of the vast accumulation of wealth and knowledge of the 20th century. As the digital age has proven, we cannot do this by accessing the whole. Re-valuing can only occur by judicious familiarisation with small, accurate details.

September 2006

© 2006, Jack Randell

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