Interview for "Object/Subject" by Frank McBride
Allyson Reynolds interview by Frank McBride, curator of the exhibition “Object/Subject", Museum of Brisbane, 18 February-8 May 2005.
FM The subject of your paintings is usually moths. Can you describe how you are dealing with that subject in these paintings?
AR Originally I looked at moths just as they were in their entire form, but these paintings now are about a microscopic view of the moths wings, looking at the structure of the scales of the wings. How they are arranged and overlap. I was interested in how I could show that on the canvas.
FM Are you concerned to show the microscopic view of the moth in scientific way, or are you just using that as a starting point and letting the painting work away from that?
AR The microscope gave me a different view of the moth, but from there the process of painting takes over and the materials start to dictate what happens. The movement of the brush and the way the paint flows becomes the focus of the work.
FM What really is the subject of the paintings?
AR The image is the beginning of the subject, but the process is really the subject in a sense. The physical aspect of making the painting takes over, the scale of the canvas starts to dictate what the composition becomes.
FM Although they are very quiet paintings they are also very physical, almost in the manner of Jackson Pollock. You have described how the scale of the painting, and the composition are determined simply by the length of your arm. Do you see them as being connected to gestural painting in any way?
AR Yes I do. In a way, that becomes the addiction of doing them. There is a mental stillness involved and that, combined with the physical element, is for me part of the joy of making them. The paintings have to be completed while they are wet so there is a lot of pressure.
FM At first glance the paintings seem to be abstract, but gradually it becomes apparent that there is something else going on. Is that how you wanted the viewer to respond.
AR When I am painting I never think of how the viewer will react. Most people seem to respond to the stillness in them. Others comment on the optical effects of the brushwork.
FM Is concentration or intuition the more important when you are painting?
AR Both, but perhaps intuition wins out.