M A R G A R E T ellen T U R N E R: about painting 

Space Invaders: the Paintings. Media Release, 29.1.2014

Space Invaders, a new series by Margaret Ellen Turner, has been chosen as the visual motif of the next TEDxNoosa to complement the event’s theme – Space 2014.

Turner’s paintings explore the many aspects of space. Starting with the traditional use of colour, tone and temperature to create a fathomless depth out of the flat surface of the canvas; objects within the space not only recede from the viewer but leap out, invading personal space.

In Space Invaders Turner also references the incomprehensible vastness of the universe, in which, to our collective astonishment and even disbelief, there is more space than matter – just as there is, we are told, within our solid-seeming bodies. On a molecular level the fluid, substance-less dance of particles that makes us human beings is little different from the dance of galaxies. How are we to live, asks the artist, when our sense of importance and uniqueness is engulfed by such vastness?

These questions and more are the stuff of this artist's interactions in the studio with matter and force, canvas and desire, atomic and sub-atomic particles. Turner says that space is the beginning of all things. It is the physical space of the studio that allows her the mental space to explore the space of possibility between artist and canvas, making space for what is nascent in the moment to emerge and grow.

These works are a record of choices made and enacted in those many spaces. The paint is layered – as many as 80 layers over twelve months or as few as 20 layers over ten days – and as a choice is made other unexplored opportunities disappear. And there is no ‘undo button’, no return to the previous state if the new action doesn't go as the artist hoped.

In line with her focus on process, Turner makes notes of what has influenced her choice of action, if she can pin it down. ‘Our choices are rarely free of our prejudices and fears,’ she says, ‘ – fear of a looming deadline, fear of a mistake. And the prejudices are worse – my underlying and unquestioned knowing that blue and green should never be seen, or that pink is for sissies. No choice can be without context, no choice is perfect, and each choice has consequences. I must live with that.’

Space Invaders, new painting by Margaret Ellen Turner, winner of the Kenilworth Painting Prize in 2013, is featured at this April's TEDxNoosa: Space 2014. The exhibition opens at The J, Noosa Junction, on 4 April and continues until 30 April.

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