Nic Plowman

Formula For Resurrection

December 3 - December 16 2011

‘This work is about triumph, it's about love and mateship, it's about playing with ideas of the masculine and feminine and its about wool... knitting, making, mending, creating... stitch by stitch... a metaphor for the journey, the row by row of getting back to life...'
Nic Plowman, October 2011

Profoundly personal and utterly authentic, Nic Plowman's works present ‘a view from the edge' that is at once confronting, poignant and inspirational. Emotionally challenging they may be, but their aesthetic potency is rooted in a very real encounter with mortality. Like many artists before him, Brisbane-based Plowman refuses to ignore a dimension of experience that helps to define our humanity. His imagery addresses fear and pain head-on, in an understanding that they are part of the process of living. Promethean-like, Plowman's works express human determination operating against every kind of adversity and a stubborn refusal to yield to fate.

The act of knitting plays a crucial role both literally and metaphorically in Plowman's Formula For Resurrection. Two years ago he found himself convalescing and back in the care of his mum at the family home in Toowoomba. Fettered with a severely restrictive neckbrace, he describes being propped up on the couch and able to do little else but watch ‘ozzy dramas and dance shows' to the accompaniment of his mum and aunt softly click-clacking away at their knitting. To wile away the interminable hours he too learnt to knit in mind, body and spirit with the aid of his own set of knitting needles. The picture One Hundred Days references that period in limbo and was the first work made in the present series. ‘It was both a safe and important place to start the show,' reflects Plowman.

Apparently Plowman also instructed his mates in the craft of knitting as evidenced by the curious twin-headed works sitting either side of his own double-headed portrait. Incidentally, Plowman's mum and aunt are twins. ‘The flanking companions are two of my best mates concentrating hard, doing their part in knitting me back together', says Plowman. ‘The idea behind these works was the continuation of healing that took place with the boys when I returned to Brissy after leaving mum's 'nest' to resume my life. The boys played a big part in making me feel normal again, taking me for a beer, getting me to the studio, general muckin' around and playing silly buggers, getting me back in the swing of being myself after feeling so frail and dependent.'

Double-headed imagery is prevalent in Plowman's new series. Alluding not only to his time sitting betwixt mum and aunt, it also holds philosophic significance. ‘I think all my work deals with duality - the darkness and the beauty,' he reflects. He goes on to tell of a book* he read recently that provided him with solace and a title for this current body of work, ‘Magic realism is the style or genre of the book, something I associate within my work - the real mixed with the unreal, the facts coupled with the memories... the truth with the imagined.' The agent provocateur in that labyrinthine epic is Melquiades, a gypsy alchemist who in preparation of impending death developed a formula for resurrection. ‘It resonated with me,' says Plowman. ‘Melquiades seems to have this profound wisdom and death is embraced in a sort of friendship pact. It was like being back in the studio after my friend, studio partner and mentor died. His presence and knowledge was still with me, but he had gone and left me to get on with it.'

Full of alchemical implication, Plowman uses gold leaf in a number of works. Gold suggests the most valuable aspects of our authentic selves. It symbolises incorruptibility, patience and care as well as endurance, the masculine principle and the transmutation of the soul. Plowman's adds, ‘For me the work needs to say something, be about something, but be visually compelling.' His superb draughtsmanship, mastery of the difficult watercolour medium and innate understanding of compositional factors is readily apparent. Ultimately however, the power of the works lies in Plowman's ability to express beauty where we did not expect to find it. Applying his formula for resurrection we too may find the inspiration to knit our own tattered threads back into wholeness.


* One hundred Years of Solitude written by Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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