Animal Totems: Mullet / Fish

Detail of fish from Storm in a Teacup

Now your dreaming is mullet. Mullet is travelling ocean to ocean, creek to creek, river to river. Representing you and I when we travel, looking for our destiny.

- Wukun Wanambi, British Museum exhibition "Larrakitj" - April 2016
In the time it takes me to bring a work from first idea to final brushstroke it's meaning to me can change many times over and back again before I've blinked. It is an endless tidal cycle of insights and understandings that come and go, pulling and tugging at the differences between what I think and what I feel in any given instant.
The artwork itself, once painted, is impossible to change and yet its meaning constantly shifts like sand in a current so that each approach is coloured by inflections of situation, relationship and chance. In this way I find layers of meaning are added and subtracted to a work in an endless eddying of physical awareness and intangible perception.
Which is how I found myself in the British Museum the other day, absorbed in a mini exhibition on the Australian aboriginal tradition of larrakitj, taking a winding blow to the gut as I realised how the unexpected appearance of a fish within one of my works might now be layered with interpretations and meanings I'd never formally considered: caught like a fish from a sea of stories connecting my unconscious self to shores distant in place and ancient in history.
I do not say that this has added a 'forever' meaning to this painting but, for me, in coming across the words of Wukun Wanambi I found a prism through which I might better understand a piece of myself and through which I might better comprehend the iconography I reach for when words are not enough.
And, in that moment of revelation, a painting which I had considered 'finished' was re-imagined as a work in progress with the potential to evolve further, more nuanced layers of meaning over time.
Like mullet carved on the larrakitj, like fish leaping through water, like a girl within a teacup dancing on the waves through a storm of dreams: we are all looking for our destiny.

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