Marilyn Peck

Poetry In Motion

May 29 to June 12 2021

Gold Coast-based Marilyn Peck imparts that the exhibition's miniature artworks are essentially, ‘poetry in motion'.  'My second love, after painting, is the writing of poetry,'  Marilyn professes. 'I approach both the same way. A word or two will set me off and a poem arises with its own rhythm. Similarly, I love the accidental happenings on the picture plane when I drop colour onto wet, hot-pressed Arches paper.  These are gifts that ferment the imaginative process.'

Marilyn explains that her paintings embody an essence akin to Japanese haiku poetry which expresses moments of heightened awareness, usually in just three lines.  Consequently, these poems are allusive and require the reader to contemplate the meaning and significance.  Much like a haiku poem, Marilyn's miniatures are not preconceived illustrations of a story but rather, aim to trigger unexpected insights for the viewer.  The miniscule scale of the works necessitates a close engagement.  Amidst jewel-like drifts of watercolour and gold leaf embellishment, her subjects depict both memories and an affinity with the natural world.

In many cultures, butterflies represent the cycle of life. The sighting of a blue butterfly is thought to bestow good luck, serenity and harmony.  Marilyn's Ulysses Butterflies painting, with its hovering blue butterflies, exemplifies this.  A female figure seems to be merging into the shimmering landscape, her dissolving body assuming a wing-shaped semblance. Amplifying the scenario is a surround of glowing gold leaf inscribed with fine linework.

The fond memory of a special frock Marilyn's mother had sewn for her as a teenager, inspired The Green Dress My Mum Made painting.  Attired in such, a young woman follows her mother through the golden portal of bygone times.  Festive flower in hair, she carries bouquets that might symbolise gifts of appreciation. It is Marilyn's wish that the viewer will invest each of her paintings with personal imaginings.

An enigmatic smile graces the woman in the foreground of Landscape with Lady.  Gold-leafed outlines inscribed with tiny faces and figures connect her, both literally and metaphorically, to the overarching tree she stands beside.  The hazy blue of the forest beyond is echoed in the hue of the lady's gown.  Marilyn describes the imagery as a 'meditation with nature.'

A thick, almost impasto-like application of gold leaf covers the ornate motif at the centre of the Bibelot miniature.  Marilyn relates that although a bibelot is generally regarded as a mere trinket, it can kindle 'memories that are priceless.'  There is an exotic ‘feel' to the vibrant colours and vignettes depicted within and around the arabesque form.  They have surfaced randomly, much as recollections of childhood's fairy tales can sometimes do.

At variance to other works in the exhibition, Galahs is an abstraction of darting shapes, splashes of vibrant colour and gold leaf trails.  The piece aptly expresses the 'ruckus' and frenzied motion of galahs at feeding time.

As gold leaf is an explicit feature in her paintings, Marilyn gives the following account of process: 'My application of gold leaf is quite different to the norm.  It is the final addition in a work.  Deliberately not highly polished, the gold leaf is utilised as a base for drawing into with a pen-like, special cutting and scraping tool.  I love any blemishes that appear as they help me create appropriate figures or decoration that will enhance the watercolour's story.'  To offer further insight, each miniature in the exhibition is accompanied by a haiku poem written by Marilyn.

Marilyn's creative output has been prodigious.  An exhibiting artist since 1970 she has developed an international reputation as a significant miniaturist, winning awards both overseas and in Australia.  Marilyn's work is represented in the Gold Coast City Gallery and Tasmania's Burnie Regional Art Gallery collections. From 2011, her poetry has been selected for publication in the highly respected Quadrant literary and cultural journal and two poems were featured in this April's edition.  Marilyn's published books have been acquired by the National Library of Australia and State Library of Queensland.  Her contribution in fostering inspiration and creativity in others is equally impressive.  She was a founding member of the Australian Society of Miniature Art in NSW, 1986 and was Foundation President of that body in Queensland, 1988.

JACQUELINE HOUGHTON


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