08. 09. 2016
Art gushes out of Maggie Welz in a torrent of creative energy. It is as though a lifetime of experiencing and learning and thinking and contemplating has gathered to a well-spring that is releasing in sweeping, fluid strokes of beauty and emotional intensity.
Now in her seventies, Maggie creates art for herself. She does not feel the need to explain her meaning.
“I’m not interested in a message that you can take away,” she says. “My concepts are feelings not words.”
“I probably have my ideas in my head for 80 per cent of the day. I live with it constantly.”
In her studio overlooking Pelican Lagoon, eastern Kangaroo Island, Maggie begins with detail, minute exacting detail. In her youth, she majored in botany in a science degree from Bangor University in Wales (and gained a mountaineering certificate to boot).
“A scientific background allows you to question the world and people in it and have a sharper political outlook; it gives you a clarity of thought. I’ve never regretted it. I did a really good broad study – science develops your mind and art develops my soul. I see art as a link between humanity and science and where we are.”
Maggie originally took to botanical drawing with zest, obsession even. The micro-universe, the cellular level, fascinates her but it is too factual for her art.
“I don’t draw what everyone sees. I will start with that to get me in there.”
Maggie’s inspiration for ‘Past marks on paper’ for Island to Inland came from a visit to Africa.
“My daughter showed me a piece of ochre they found on a dig, the second-oldest abstract art ever found.
“The awe I felt holding it in my hand, scored or engraved by a person over 55,000 years ago. I wanted to reach back in time to making these marks, these gestures, ideas, and somehow connect to them in stillness.
“Abstractions of form are the main part of what I do. I’m interested in big issues. Sometimes I create symbols that almost represent a life force, a deeper essence. I’m interested in what will make those marks on paper – connecting me to that impulse.
“For ‘Edges’ my second piece, I am responding to the place I live – the isthmus between north and south on the edge of Pelican Lagoon – and inner spaces of isolation and solitude, yet surrounded by lifeforms and pondering on the emergence of life, the joining of nucleic acids as DNA and the complexity of life that follows.
“And I can’t do just one thing.”
Maggie takes up the medium that delivers her conceptual intent – Japanese ink, acrylic, watercolour, squid ink, fountain pen ink with shellac. Her brush range is vast, from the finest to the thickest.
For Island to Inland she is also experimenting with a myriad paper types and thicknesses, and rice paper.
“I like the simplicity of paper rather than complicating them with frames.”
Long long rolls of paper are complemented by a picking out of details from the main work. Small gems, enlightening the whole.
“I like to put lightness in. I am happy to try anything. Failure is how we get to where we are going.
“We people have been here for such a short span. There’s a lot of darkness underneath; not dark necessarily – mysterious, spiritually interesting – the part we can’t access consciously, just in our dreams.
“I think we have the ability for compassion and love; and we have the opposite, the ability to hate and torture.
“I’m trying to get to that place where I sing. This is what humanity is about – that state of enlightenment in that brief space of time.
“I am linking the chaos I am avoiding falling into, to reaching to the multi-universes that I have no idea about.
“Art is a place I live in my head. I get into a rhythm … [and] … every brush stroke is real and it flows.
“And that’s why I paint.”