Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Jeffree Skewes - Silk on the Road - Introduction

Dear Reader.

Silk on the Road is an unfolding project I have been developing in various forms such as paintings, poetry and essays. More recently I am moved to committing this series of artworks and writing towards a future published book of some sort.

Silk on the Road embodies my idea of an allegorical journey that takes place during an inexact time across imagined lands of the fabled Silk Road emerging from a kind of personal dream-time of memories, creativity and spiritual awakenings.

This perhaps well-worn road concept poses metaphorically as the big picture of the 'journey of life.' Here, Silk on the Road delves into unfolding stories as if experienced on a journey. In this way, personal events can be seen taking place on some allegorical mountain, desert, sea or mystical land that can be universally interpreted and understood. I find this vehicle of poetic writing combined with images serves as very effective base to develop a personal, narative supported by and imbued with my own artwork images.

Inter-lapping these narratives of fictional discovery and adventure inevitably throws up persistent questions, challenges and a constantly renewing awareness that the journey, its experiences and its revelations seem suited to this chosen 'road' metaphor.

Image: Silk on the Road – drawing.4 (detail) / silk ribbon, silk painting, ink on rice paper on interfacing / jeffree skewes

As an artist I have drawn on these types ideas and events over years to inspire my own art and aesthetics with that notion of 'life is a journey' often serving as comfort and a personal touchstone and remedy when faced with not just life's obstacles but also reaffirming those reoccurring and enriching entries into to the worlds of aesthetics, adversity, mystery as well all the satisfying things that come with art making.

On this blog of my 2016 contributions for Project 365+1, I have republished and collated the thirty one in all,  daily contributions for ease of locating them and providing a more coherent amalgam of all the written and visual material I fleshed out to reflect what is now effectively a final draft for Silk on the Road.

Concurrent to my work on Project 365+1 was also a mini art exhibition of the same name I staged in Chutespace, a mini-contemporary art gallery in Canberra. http://www.m16artspace.com.au/chutespace/

Below are the 31 poems and their accompanying artworks I produced and compiled during August 2016 republished here without editing or layout changes as they appear on Blog 365+1 other than attending to a few glaring typos.

In the very near future, I hope to satisfactorily re-edit all this material, having them proof-read and adjusted where required in order to develop the body of work as a refined edition of Silk on the Road.

As luck may have organised it, I have since joined another variation of Project 365+1 called Project 52 - designed for participation during 2017, in which I and other poets, writers and artist will work on a piece for a whole week (hence '52' - ie posting one/per week for a whole year). Currently, I'm really looking forward to the new Project 52 and will continue updating and sharing some of the processes and the progress of my Silk on the Road....

I hope you enjoy this version of Silk on the Road suite as a kind of final work-in-progress, with one more step towards publication.

thanks for listening......

JS December 2106

'About' Note from the Project 365+1 Blog 

Project 356+1 is a poem-centric collaboration of artists and writers taking place daily throughout 2016.
365+1 encourages the everyday business of artmaking for those who work – however they work – with word and image. Some people will post only pictures, some people will post only poems or short prose pieces. Some people will alternate among the various forms of their practice. And some may evolve new practices over the course of the year.

There are no set topics or themes for the project but participants add a short draft work daily so that the possibility is always there for response and for a conversation in the work. The project will be blogged daily on the wonderbook and, from there, republished to other social media, for instance facebook.
Christopher (Kit ) Kelen 365+1 convenor and well known Australian poet, scholar
and visual artist, and Professor of English at the University of Macau


Jeffree Skewes


Jeffree Skewes #1 Silk on the Road – prelude

1 August 2016

The sacred always hid its true meaning
even when glittering pages, walls and statues
the ringing bells or solemn Latin
conspire to blind acuity

until the journey toward its room
singularity or by luck is excavated
do candles, flowers and incense appear
reborn, mulled and promising

the journey begins
while in a kind of darkness
only a youth would conjure
beyond forests, seas and deserts

crackling onstage timbers buck
no audience is listening
plateau after plateau reached
only actors remain

nothing can be said
of despair left behind
it was nothing
there is no turning back

Grace puffs a sweet fugitive perfume
trailing whispers of adventure so magnificent
silk paves these endless roads

on a pilgrim's journey

image: Silk on the Road installation maquette detail 1. desert sand rice paper silk synthetic polymer paint ink clay flower petals / jskewes


Jeffree Skewes #2 Start don't begin

2 August 2016

No religion everyday
Rimbaud to Rumi
cuts attention too!

the highlight
of the high-life
is to look up
dancing on plates

heaven's not a catalogue

Image :Under within without - installation Within Without by James Turell (2010) National Gallery Australia


Monday, 3 October 2016

Jeffree Skewes #3 Empty

4 August 2016











Image: Coming detail 1. synthetic polymer on canvas - jskewes


Jeffree Skewes #4 Signal

6 August 2016

Aligned to a rare cosmic gateway
this apparition
chance celestial slipstream
coupled its portal to relevant human instincts
motivations and desires

patience is always tricky
made uneasy by muted navigational
perceptions and obscure

now five major planets would
conjure a rare alchemy
briefly suspending the geometric mirage
for abstraction of another kind of purity
reason and purpose

providence a remedy
in the eye of the beheld
some resolve
for others it would cause activity in the imagination
and time to prepare

image:Copernicus synthetic polymer and enamel paint on insulation material & perspex on ply - j skewes

Jeffree Skewes #5 Apparate

8 August 2012

in distance
to their opposition

fifty fifty
when finally apparated
though one may dream
a return journey

double or nothing
seems good value
repatriation in most cases
albeit a small risk

pack trek boots
dip the oars
nothing ventured
dream I say

image: Seed synthetic polymer paint & enamel on stretched canvas - j skewes


Jeffree Skewes #6 My Island

8 August 2016

My island from the air looks like a fish
surrounded by seas
communing with others
over millennia

timeless dreamers
picture beyond
common certainty
barbarous, Utopian or sagacious

free spirits soar high
with airs and eyes
for the not plain and obvious
and it was good

birds of the same feather
share everyday treasure
seek in return
a thirst for knowledge

for what gift do I have
could I carry
what can I offer
but thirst

because my island is like a fish
sailing is natural just upside down
I seek out new lands

not without empatia

image: Silk on the Road / Marquette for installation digital detail 2. desert sand, silk, dyes, rice paper, ink - j skewes


Jeffree Skewes #7 Sailing

9 August 2016

Without fanfare
or gifts of great worth
sails set
flags held dear
inside bags
some notes
a not so new map
drawing paper
anchor's up
into mist
and hope
we're sailing

image: Coming detail 2. synthetic polymer paint on canvas / jskewes


Jeffree Skewes #8 Underneath

 9 August 2016

Light finds its way
beneath waves
deep into crevices
unlit cracks
under realised underneath
illuminating opalescent shells
on ocean floors
ancient tales
whilst detecting curious currents
emanating from above

unperturbed by the familiar questions
stained on traveler's lips
too far from home
seeking direction and safe landing
with answers so indirect that
refraction and
be the only means
a language so foreign
it must be sung backwards

image: Wagonga - synthetic polymer paint on multi canvas panels jskewes


Jeffree Skewes #9 The Crossing

August 13, 2016


by afternoon the sea whistles
chilled air not at all gradually
escalating a gale
an ill wind cried
deluge coming

that night of woe crossing
without a friend
each rising wave
no up nor down
no lessening no mercy

entire fleets of buccaneers
playing war and fear
pilgrims nomads
a vanity of
foolish pride

engulfing tempest
a sea un-parted
sentenced by decree
to gulping water
no boat no teacher only nature

sirens prayers contrition
wailing desperation
but who could listen
there was no turning back
some would not return

in its eye and with a flash
lightening shone
on wars within
between death and sin
life begins

tears would stem
a standstill
ceasing hurling metal
for those who cradle
what life is really worth

briny flux licks
calcined bodies
stripped and raw
washed-up somehow
to shores unknown

wounded in deep sleep
it would take
till a sunrise
to stand again
and wonder why

so the story begins

Image: Tempest  detail -  synthetic polymer paint on canvas ply panel  jskewes


Jeffree Skewes #10 Ride with me

15 August 2016 

It is with you
that I ride
you that I hide

It's you by my side
you are my tide

It is you
with time I bide

You to who I lied
It is with you that I ride

You are my side


image: Ride with me, watercolour / ink / synthetic polymer paint on paper. jskewes


Jeffree Skewes #11 instinct

16 August 2016

From now on it would be clear
a path or way would appear

taking it without fear
sweet smell
never lost

Image At the door digitised painting detail - jskewes