Lisa Roberts blog


Dancing paths and floors

Filed under: Iconography — Lisa @ 12:05

I love the idea of spontaneous gestures set as lasting forms to animate living spaces. My brother Tom inspires me to work directly into terracotta to make tiles for pathways and floors. Tiles could be ‘green’ (soft, unfired) and engraved as well as painted. I can work by eye and memory from drawings.

Barara Cuckson writes:

I’m trying to analyse why I see your ‘dance movement scripts’ in a ceramics medium.
Do you think:
It’s the mind’s memory of images of ancient dancers, and their documentation recorded in hieroglyphics on walls like ghosts for eternity? A messageĀ  from antiquity that is still the same now, the soul being timeless.
Paper and ink is a transitory medium, and although the movement itself is transitory, the movement is also timeless. Ceramics seems to me to represent the definition of the person within its environment, like a fossil in stone, a moment in time.
You capture the essence of the breath in a dance movement, that is, where it has come from, and where it is going, that is amazing. But you also capture a personal description of the dancer, along with those movements that you pare down to essential elements only. It is an extraordinary gift…

Ancient gestures

Filed under: Iconography — Lisa @ 11:44
2007 Girl with Hoop

2007 Girl with Hoop

Choreographer Barbara Cuckson inspires a vision to set spontaneous calligraphic forms as a solid part of the world we move through. Ideally the forms would be comprehensible by anyone.

When I was at High School I was enthralled by a teacher reading the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ by John Keats. She explained that Keats was very sick when he wrote that poem and was taking opium for his pain. I can still see the dancers I imagined then, moving around the ancient urn.

Now on my way home from UTS today I was thinking, as I was walking, about your tiles idea and took photos of all the painted skipping girls on the corrugated iron around Carriage Works. I want to animate them. Then I kept photographing the fence sections with no paintings on them and imagined Rozelle dancers appearing in those spaces.

Now as I write I think of the ‘circumlitoral drawing’ Terra Spiritus by my old art teacher Bea Maddock:

Some people say that the art galleries of today evolved from wide corridors in grand houses of Europe that were made for walking through. For example the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles has glass windows on one side and mirrors on the other, paintings on the ceiling and parquetry patterns on the floor, offering so many things to look at as you walk (nature, art and your own human form).

My grandmother’s house had a space which we called ‘the Gallery’. It was a wide hall with windows on one side overlooking a garden and the wall opposite was covered in paintings (mostly by Tom Roberts and his mates). Here and there were pedestals with sculptures and exotic objects, including a Russian samovar and some carved wood from China.

Unsustainable expansion

Filed under: circle — Lisa @ 11:27

A hot air balloon in the White Rabbit Gallery signifies expanding human consumption.

A hot air balloon in the White Rabbit Gallery signifies expanding human consumption.

The White Rabbit Gallery hosts an alarming exhibit.


Protected: How useful is art divorced from science?

Filed under: Presentations — Lisa @ 15:07

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Old growth forests

Filed under: Science — Lisa @ 21:56

I made this painting in 2006, of an old growth forest in Tasmania's 'Walls of Jeruselum'.

What IS an old growth forest?

Are there different definitions of this term?

Why is old growth forest thought to be more precious than young or re-growth forest?

What IS an old growth forest?

I grew up next to Sherbrooke Forest in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges.


Remembering Jack Ward

Filed under: DrawingMovement — Lisa @ 08:43

Last week I went to Melbourne for Jack Ward’s wake.

I met Jack not long after I came back from Antarctica.

All of what I do since those days involves raising environmental awareness. For many years I felt the opposite, numbed to my own connection to it. I see this in paintings long before I went:
I now recognise the spheres as suns and planets and me as disconnected from things and feelings.

Being in Antarctica certainly challenged me. In the absence of much life there I experienced intense moments of being simultaneously part of past and future ice ages. Being there with climate scientists confronted me with the reality of human impacts on Earth and our collective disruption of natural climate cycles. I learned about the Milankovitch cycles that govern climate changes over long time periods – cycles of changing relationships between Earth and Sun that govern glacial and interglacial periods. This made me question my relationship to the world and to think about the massive scale of collective human action. It’s amazing to think that we can disrupt such major forces.

I met Jack in Mornington at an exhibition of Sydney Nolan’s Antarctic paintings. There he was, nose close up to the paint. Then I saw his eyes and I knew that he had been there and was most likely changed by that experience.

The other day I heard his voice when I rang his home phone. The sound was curiously disembodied, as I will always remember him, not of this urban noisy world.


Krill Fisheries, the Next Collapse?

Filed under: Climate-Change-Communication — Lisa @ 20:34

Throughout its history the fisheries have proven that what can be fished will be fished until collapse. They have shown to be incapable of self-regulation, constraint, common sense and decency. They and their political backers have always shunned warnings, ignored or watered-down scientific recommendations and dismissed evidence of their destructive practices. They have always been driven by only one impulse: insatiable greed.

Sea Shepherd Australia
April 17, 2013
Krill Fisheries, the Next Collapse?
Commentary by Erwin Vermeulen


A physics thing

Filed under: Science — Lisa @ 20:08

I find a way to upload an old film Beware of Pedestrians:

Human forms express diverse and often contradictory responses to an environment co-created by fellow pedestrians: a self portrait from inner suburban Melbourne, 1994 to 1995. The cage is a house and the grid maps Melbourne roads.

How does the film relate to my experience of the current environment? How does it relate to yours?

For me the film reflects my anxiety about what can be done to regain balance in the natural world. But it does not reflect my faith people to affect change. Beware of Pedestrians was made by a pessimist struggling to be an optimist. Now I am an optimist! I agree with the artist and educator Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack who advocated ‘belief in individual creativity in benefiting the common good’ (Jacqueline Strecker in The Mad Square exhibition catalogue, p. 130.). Artists, scientists and engineers must be encouraged to keep creating.

My engineering house mate sends me this video.

He describes it as “a physics thing”. I see it as a dance. That we see the world from our own perspectives can be challenging when working together on such a massive project as regaining global balance. But conversations between people with different views are a great start.


Strecker, J. The Mad Square: Modernity in German art 1910-37 (2011) Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales


Desertification of sea and land

Filed under: Acidification, Desertification — Lisa @ 07:24

Animation is a compelling medium. Animated metaphors and data visualizations convey aesthetic and scientific ways of knowing. Both are important for understanding climate change.

Bubble from Elliot Dear on Vimeo.

In this animation by Elliot Dear I see a dog, a bubble and a mirror as metaphors for caring, unity and connectivity.

Harnessing the power of knowledge for combating desertification, land degradation and drought. New system for monitoring UNCCD. from UNEP WCMC on Vimeo.

The caption for this Vimeo animation reads:

With support from GEF, UNEP and the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the UNCCD launches a new system for monitoring international efforts for implementation of the Convention. This innovative tool, named the PRAIS portal, aims at harnessing the power of knowledge for combating desertification, land degradation and drought worldwide through a new, quantitative approach. With the 2010 reporting and review process, the PRAIS portal has allowed to establish for the first time in the history of the UNCCD an objective baseline of the implementation of the Convention, particularly on performance indicators, financial flows and best practices on sustainable land management. The system will be further improved in the coming months by developing an analytical module and incorporating impact indicators.



Practice makes change

Filed under: Methods — Lisa @ 15:22

It’s the last week of my first semester at UTS. Here’s what I’ve learned from my Design students:

Easy in theory, but
practice makes change.


Make sense.
Make beauty.
Appeal to the mind.
Appeal to the senses.

Be yourself.

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