Written for the Memory Collective’s catalogue. Opening event Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, September 20, 2013,
The Memory Collective
A collection of memories and reflections
Peter Breen MA, BTh, ARMIT,MIR
Co-Founder, Chair/Director Jugglers Art Space Inc
“ A beautiful thing, though simple in its immediate presence, always gives us a sense of depth below depth, almost an innocent wild vertigo as one falls through its levels”
On a cold windy Toowoomba morning earlier this year I found myself on my hands and knees scrambling under a jammed roller door somewhere in a downtown alleyway. I rolled into a bleak almost deserted industrial space with a few piles of old furniture and shop fittings in the corners and a quaint brick toilet block near the entrance. The whole freezing landscape was filled with a wonderful winter light. In the space proximal to the roller door a large Damien Kamholtz painting rose from the floor suspended somehow in front of a series of exquisite porcelain bowls and a square steel open tank about 10 cm high. The cold dark water added to the mystery with a kind of present endlessness , its gentle silent lapping inviting me to look deeper and stay longer. Dancers, photographers, film makers, painters, composers, musicians and writers swirled around the central icon. In breaking into the moments of this carefully scripted performance and image capture event [ for future editing and performance in the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery on September 20] I had also broken into something intuitively wonderful and sacred. As one of Kirsty’s dance sequences slowed to a still and suspended moment, I found my throat contracting and my eyes filling with tears. Here was threshold moment where light poured in and mystery opened its heart to let us catch a glimpse of the beauty and grace of the Other. And then as it opened it slid shut. The secret had gone and yet the mystery and beauty remained in the installation, space and dance sequences.
What draws me is not only the sensed beauty and skill of artists’ works but meanings that emerge in the silences, stillnesses, reflections, and spaces between. The “Memory Collective” is a unique beauty but I see it as part of what is hopefully a rising swell of inquiry by gifted artists who are walking lightly on the earth. The consumer, decorative and investor paradigm is stuck largely on the surface of the instant. To find a group of artists led by Damien Kamholtz who have been moved to follow the beckoning mystery beyond their talent and praxis and to inquire below the surface is itself a threshold moment. The pull towards the market for this talented group is the straight jacket to avoid while financial pressures I believe need to be relieved by our taxes and greater corporate generosity that is not limited to the elite who end up becoming perfectionist performers in a consumer circus. While Regional Arts Funding has made this wonderful project possible, may this group of artists find the beckoning of more of the sacred to be the underpinnings and deepening of their practice and so cause a few of us to scramble under doors into the light.
The collective mind
Holds them all, suspends them here,
Suspends them in time,
Suspends them in no time space
Of memory synapses.
Door rolls jam time frames,
Opens sacred momentums;
Cold paper plans; thaws, melts, warms.
Dance moves mystify; paint creeps.
Listen, the stillness calls
To the root bound beauty well.
Quiet tears run.
The sacred moment hangs here.
Painter, dancer, maker dream.
©Peter Breen 2013
 Frederick Turner cited in “Beauty the Invisible Embrace” John O’Donohue. Harper 2004