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What artworks have impacted your journey?


Art galleries create an inexplicable vibe for me. I love to meander through, letting the artwork drift over me, not focussing for long on any artwork. I will leave calm, refreshed.


Sometimes an artwork will draw me in by its beauty, or like Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, its magnetic complexity. Every time I visit Canberra, I make time to sit before Blue Poles at the National Gallery of Australia, often surrounded by others chatting about their reactions. Normally I like to sit alone, but this painting invites conversation, as did its purchase in 1973 for $1.3 million authorised by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, prompting a furore over its price (now priceless) and a lively debate over abstract art.


Then there are those few random artworks that, like the quotes I discussed in an earlier blog, become provocateurs, creating those tipping points in my journey of self-awareness, empathy, and learning.

Before I discuss seven artworks impacting my journey, I refer to Gemma Garcia’s painting of me shown in this Blog's picture heading. It prompts me to ask whether I am spending too much time speaking. My partner Margi Brown Ash commissioned it as a birthday present. I chose not to ask why, heeding that admonition to lawyers: Never Ask a Question to Which You Do Not Know the Answer.


Bill Worrell’s My Way

Photo by Bill Ash


Margi and I are standing before Bill Worrell’s My Way in a gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


The artist challenges us:

YOU are a noble creatures! Do not fear to use your own colors. Do not fear to color over and outside the lines!

This is a key value of our parenting and leading, with the poster hanging in our kitchen.


Cai Guo-Qiang’s Head On

Photo by Bill Ash


I am mesmerised by Cai Guo-Qiang’s Head On in the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art.


The curator challenges us:

There is the implication that if we blindly follow ideology, or misdirect our strength toward a collective goal, there can be damaging consequences.

The artist concludes:

Invisible barriers can be the hardest walls to destroy.

For me, these ‘invisible barriers’ have been what I call the scripts of my upbringing, that I have strived to notice and re-author, that is, to destroy those assumptions, prejudices, biases, and judgments that I absorbed from birth, and which no longer serve me in my roles as a parent and leader.

Sol LeWitt

Photo by Bill Ash


Margi and I are standing before Sol LeWitt’s artwork in the Art Gallery of NSW.


I ask Margi: Why do we compress ourselves and our children into this funnel, this suffocating funnel of education:

· To achieve what others perceive as success?

· For our children, to achieve university entry at around age 17 and be careful not to waste a year?


These questions informed our parenting.


Tobias Putrih’s Connection 2004

Photo by Bill Ash


I am standing before Tobias Putrih’s Connection 2004 at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art, a series of ordinary cardboard boxes connected to form an arc, supporting each other, delicately balanced as they move from large to small, or small to large, depending on my perspective in the moment; contemplating how the artist had trust and faith to interconnect these ordinary boxes into the extraordinary.


I ponder how much trust and faith I have to interconnect my ordinary boxes constructed during my life, into the extraordinary. I ask:

· Do I understand my own boxes, my own strengths?

· Am I too quick to embrace others’ boxes?


Another way to consider these boxes, these building blocks, is to see them as our stories, some small, some large, all delicately balanced, emerging in the moment and often being unaware of their influence.


Urs Fischer’s Francesco 2017

Photo by Bill Ash


I am standing before Urs Fischer’s Francesco 2017 at the National Gallery of Australia. This lonely figure, intensely looking at a mobile phone, while through regularly lit candle wicks, it collapses. So far, the head.


I took time out and penned in my notebook:


I

look across at my family watching TV

write a LinkedIn post, press send

see a LinkedIn connection’s post, click like

re-read my LinkedIn post, see one like

see a LinkedIn connection’s post, write fabulous share

re-read my LinkedIn post, see one share

share a selfie on Instagram

re-read my LinkedIn post, see one comment

open an email, close the email

re-read my LinkedIn post, notice a typo, correct, save

look across at my family

see we are all alive, healthy

give gratitude

see hope

Just before my head vanishes, I drop my mobile

I move across to turn off the TV

I say hello, how did your day go?

We

chat


Whynot Street

Photo by Bill Ash


I am standing before a street sign (street art?) in West End, Brisbane. This prompted me to reflect on my life and how my important life decisions have been made while journeying down Whynot Street, rather than engaging in the analysis paralysis of Wall Street, where I used to work as a lawyer in New York.


I ask:

· Can we ever be certain that we are making the ‘right’ decision?

· Afterwards, can we ever be certain that we made the ‘wrong’ decision?

· In our analysis, do we rely on ‘facts’, or are the factors we take into account opinions building on other opinions?


Robyn Sharp's Life's Journey

Photo by Bill Ash


Margi Brown Ash and I are now empty nesters. We are walking past a pop-up Gallery in Stanmore (Sydney) with our daughter and granddaughter. Artist Robyn Sharp's daughter was sitting on the stoop of the Gallery, joyfully beckoning us in.


Something took Margi to the rear of the Gallery. The something was Life's Journey, a sculpture of a couple embracing. Tears gently appeared, I placed my arms around Margi, our souls dancing.


Margi and I knew it was ‘ours’, to inspire our journey and to share with others in silence, in conversation, provoking our souls.



I would love to hear what artworks have impacted your journey? You can contact me through my website.

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