Caravanning with Wep – Sunday, 11th July 1937, Queensland, near Warwick, a philosophy on the art of nature

Derelict Cart, Queensland

11th July, Sunday

Queensland, near Warwick

Am camped alongside road, beneath still and flawless sky. The new moon sinking, leaves the world to starlight and quiet wonder. I clean my teeth beneath the aloof light of the thousand stars and am of the sudden impressed with their utter remoteness and unconcern with the fate of man, their unwinking & uncurious gaze. Am abased with feelings of pellucid beauty and my own futility. The remote crystalline beauty of the starry night as a model of beauty, the work of art (for me) as akin. The same detachment, the sufficiency of the thing in itself. The clarity, the utter remoteness; indifference towards the reaction of the beholder.  The essence of the thing, ART which remains in work after all extraneous matter has been subtracted. Remote, clear, cold architectural FORM. How I’d like to express that remoteness, indifference which is nature. Express the very stillness. The apparent impassive immobility of mountains, windless trees and placid sky. And yet the knowledge of the life beneath it all, sleeping, awaiting a call to action. Sensed as though the eyes are attuned to the vision of time. The art that gives me this sense of beauty I call great. Its characteristics are monumental. The appearance of complete repose, yet implying (and possessing) life that is strength. A product of infinite understanding & subtlety without denoting a simplicity of mind and vision. Simplicity as kinship with nature, life, being a part of it. Can it be produced when man lacks inner conviction, a way of life, a credo, an identification with the credo of his civilisation, a belief, a will-to-something which is inherent in the growth of a culture? When national will-to-something has disappeared & has left men bereft of point in life?

Caravanning with Wep – Monday, 21st June 1937, Time to leave Jindabyne

Monday 21st June

Vague stirrings for a return to home. A home which we haven’t got. Having made up our minds to depart at earliest convenience are experience the yearning to achieve the objective. Am missing that vague contentment one enjoys on possession of a settled spot from which all actions radiate and return centreing. Jindabyne has for 5 weeks now been our focal point and accepting such have been resigned. But now its drifting and our petty path will soon be circumscribing a new focal point with its attendant fresh enthusiasm.

If only this b— weather would clear up and grant me just a few more days of placid sunlit warmth I could finish those paintings and depart with well satisfied heart. So little I have accomplished, so little I have still to do. The rain is even now pattering above us, each drop a period halting the rhythm of my painting. I am appalled at the meagreness of my accomplishment. I am so mortally lazy, so dismally lacking in creative force, so blarsted impatient with my inability to achieve quickly, or what? Or just groping in the dark. How can I achieve anything when as yet I have no definite eye to the realities that exist. Or arte the realities I perceive so diverse as to stay my fumbly hand. Each painting I attempt has a different technique, as following upon the different essence of the scene I find before me. My outlook so utterly in confusion, so adolescent, so many faceted! God, but it makes me slow. But has its compensations in the sheer joy of perception of beauty, nature’s prodigality of loveliness which many eyes are untrained to see – and to humbly wonder at. This break of mine, even if it accomplishes in production of paintings, next to nothing shall, I think, have served to have smoothed my corrugated soul and mellowed my mind and outlook with a simpler truer vision than that tortured, jangled outlook with which I left the city. The whisperings of nature and the very silences themselves conspire to heal the mind and have allegiance and yet city-bred, I need the stimulus of heightened tempo. Of congenial and intellectual intercourse so rarely met with among those bound to the earth from whence their living is torn. The land seems so exacting, seems to absorb the luxuriances of mind as it does the rain, leaving but a dried intelligence, shedding the withered intellect.

Capitalistic strife seems remote and foreign intrigue and war the evil machinations of inhuman and predatory maddened beasts. Nature, as above good or evil, inculcates simplicity.

The even tenor of our way has been such as a week has flown smoothly past and nothing has happened neither has it been noted.

Have been to Kos. Twice. Tuesday & Sunday. Made our farewell appearance yesterday and were god-speeded by pa Speet. (Apparently well pleased with the prospect of the Pidgeons with family.)

From 2 till 5 skied without stopping. Gave up only when my legs began to jelly and had almost ploughed my head through a trunk. Douglas at top of hill had to attend to cold and miserable Freddie embroidered with the loviest crisp and auburn locks. Am still jerky in my movements and using only will power in my left handed christs with dire results. Tore my skis to bits. Poor old Dawn a model child – sat without complaint, in car until 10 o’c. Jess tells her to have a good look for she’ll never see it again.

Gloomy word ‘never’, threw me into despondency with visions of death, and shortening life. These sudden panics no amount of philosophising can over ride. Maybe it is the fear of not getting anything done, not fulfilling my life, when there is so much to be done.

Did caricatures of Teddie and Donnie Speet today. Johnny Weston returned on Sat. from 3 day trip after grass, of which he found none. Very sorry for himself. Doesn’t know whether to blame the fall he had off a horse or the gin he drank with Straw last week. I’d say the gin.

Gloomy day. Gloomy me.

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