Notes on recent work – July 2018

Notes on recent work, based on conversations between Leeanne Crisp and Dr Ingereth Macfarlane


These works require engagement at different scales.  Close up they present a surprisingly complex surface of contrasted and layered textures and colour.  Grounded on large wooden-marine ply-panels, the floods of pigment have flowed, cracked, caught on the grain and bled into each other.

From a distance, the dynamism of the work calls for us as viewers to be attentive, watchful, as they seem to shift and fold, protean, and to converse with one another, setting up new fields between them.

They have grown out of watching movement.  They have taken in the place in which they have been painted- the airy, luminous space of an old shearing shed, looking over the rolling hills near the Shoalhaven River and directly into masses of air streaming over and around.  The ephemeral flow is grounded and held on the wooden surface.

This is fitting, as one of Leeanne’s understandings concerns the coexistence of intimacy and distance in painting, as it involves in their making both the sense of sight, which is about distance, and touch, which can be sensuous and intimate.

The works also mess with scale.  They could be nebulae, ‘stellar nursery” clouds where stars are born, or a cluster of microscopic cells.


At any scale they are definitely alive, of the body.  Francis Bacon painted bodily flesh as meat, unhappy and fraught.  In contrast, while Leeanne’s visceral pink is tough and far from decorative, it is also joyful.  There is the joy of balance of air and ground, light and weight, mass and energy.  It is also edgy and not entirely safe, as it deals with a woman’s own experienced sensuality, not that channeled through the too-familiar male gaze. 

 ‘The cervix could be the seat of the soul’ it is said about the poetry of Sharon Olds the Pulitzer Prize winning poet.  Like Leeanne, she creates work potent to her own body’s knowledge.

Bright pink is a living colour-it turns out that the earliest known biological, living pigments 1.1 billion years old, produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms, are bright pink (the Guardian 10/7/18

Sex (and meditation) can reveal the potential deep wellbeing and vast spaciousness that we each have within.  What does the body look like with that energy passing through?  The paint makes the effect visible, creating a field to which we respond, pushing and pulling us, too, to unfold like a flower or a cell or a star cloud.

Fields of Fluid

In previous years Leeanne made paintings that were fields of fluid echoing Frankenthaler’s luminous abstractions. Later she made images with an ambivalence on the border of forming and dissolution.  The question was, was the subject coming from or going into the washes and pools and veils of colour?  There was dissolution, entropy, the loss of energy into a lower less organized state as well as emerging forms. 

Now in contrast, these subjects are showing not dissolution but the unboundedness and unfixed nature of being.  They slow down forces of gravity and of energy as we see them.  Mass and energy are related, as Albert Einstein’s special-relativity equation E+mc2 sets out.  And here we see mass as energy, energy as mass. 


In the red works on paper, two brush strokes, using brushes like small brooms, make a figure facing away from us or a knot or a cluster.

They are a notation of a movement, in the way that a quaver is a written notation of a sound.  They call the viewer to attend to the movement they contain.  Al are active, either standing, unfolding, circling,  turning.  They too are non-fixed, unbounded.


The smaller watercolours come from flowers.  Peony, camellia, iris, roses.  They are painted with a selected flower to remembering the sensation of ‘flower’ but also the body, which then opens up to the bigger story of energy, alive to the world.  So these smaller works on paper are in conversation with the big works on wood.

Flowers are not innocent, they are carnal, all about attraction and reproduction.

Heart Series

The hearts series is a different project.  They have visceral weight again, statements of the sensations of psychological realities in terms of conditions of the heart.  But they pulse on the pure white paper to be read like the pages of a vast book of record.