Saturday, April 04, 2009
My first studio was a ground floor apartment in a block of Art Deco flats, in Brisbane. The block was perched high on a hill at the outskirts of the ciity. In front of my windows, a sheer cliff dropped to the edge of a busy road and stairs zig-zagged down it to a narrow footpath. The rumble of heavy trucks and buses reverberated through the timber floors of the studio; I could feel it through my bare feet and through my mattress which lay on the floor. Blue industrial plastic was taped as a protective cover on the walls in the living room where I painted and it reflected a shimmering blue light throughout the space. At night, even the black seemed to glow blue.The deadline for my first gallery exhibition had been moved forward. Suddenly, it just wasn't possible finish all my paintings in time. It felt like a death sentence – so I decided to work myself to death. Every few hours I inhaled dexamphetamine, bought from a raver who had conned a gullible doctor into thinking he was narcoleptic. I stayed awake, buzzing like a ripped high voltage wire, for days on end. If I crashed, I slept a little then just upped the dosage. It was my first real chance and I refused to blow it. After six weeks, the fabric between dream and hallucination was torn. Visions of vindictive angels whispered about me as they hovered at the edge of night-time shadows. Some called my name faintly, as if from a distance.The day before the exhibition opened, I collapsed. My father carried me away from the gently vibrating floor and the softly glowing blue room. He delivered the paintings to the gallery while I slept.Today, wide awake, I wanted to paint a little of what I still remember of those savage, dislocated days.