Local artist and composer bring Arabian Desert to Artspace

Published: 24 May 2021

Continuum is a triumphant collaboration between two talented locals – an internationally exhibited digital media artist and an internationally recognised classical music producer.

Donna Maree Robinson has been represented by galleries in New York and Sydney and her work has been exhibited in Brisbane, Melbourne and prolifically throughout Queensland and Iceland.

David Pyke’s orchestral and chamber pieces have been premiered internationally in the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, South Africa and recorded by orchestras in Moscow and Bulgaria.

The two have now come together to transform Pyke’s Desert Suite Excerpts – which were written 20 years ago while he was living in the United Arab Emirates and were inspired by the solace, desolation and heat of the Arabian Desert – into an artwork that is truly mesmerizing.

Deputy Mayor Karen May, who will officially open Continuum this Friday night (May 28) at Artspace Mackay, said Donna had experimented with cymatics, or the visual representation of sound vibrations, to create a truly immersive digital artwork.

“When you combine the movements of these captivating colours, images and patterns with David’s music, the experience is both meditative and consuming,” Cr May said. “You really find yourself enthralled by it.”

Ms Robinson explained the process of capturing the cymatics had been a matter of experimentation.

She said while cymatics were often captured with a special plate and a fine sand, she didn’t have a lot of success with that technique.

“I found that water sitting directly in the (subwoofer) bowl of the speaker gave me the best effects and when I played David’s composition you got the amazing patterns you now see in the centre of the work,” Ms Robinson said.

Not satisfied with pure cymatics, Robinson surrounded the effect with her own interpretations of the Desert Suite composition.

From the shellac of early records, the oil of the United Arab Emirates, the reds and blacks of the landscape, and the planets, stars and cosmos – which David described as “unbelievably clear in the light-free desert” – all these elements and more find their way into the work.

“I listened to the music and concentrated on the feeling I got from it and set about creating that visually by adding uncountable layers and effects,” she said.

“It took months and months of work, not really knowing the final direction until after lots of experimentation.

“When I finally realised it was working was when I caught myself getting lost in it; you’d find yourself sort of hypnotised and emersed in it and forgetting about all the problems in the world.”

Also opening on Friday night at Artspace Mackay are Iterate | Elaborate by contemporary Brisbane artist Louise Schoenheimer and Tension(s) 2020: Tamworth Textile Triennial.

Iterate | Elaborate is a fun, lively exhibition featuring a collection of “constructions” – a triptych painting paired with a sculpture – which takes the audiences on a journey through art history.

Tension(s) 2020 showcases the best of textile art from across the country, attracting artist participation from all states in Australia.

Residents can check out all three exhibitions for themselves from Saturday, May 29.

Those wanting to delve deeper into Continuum can attend a free artist talk with Donna Maree Robinson and composer David Pyke in the Foundation Gallery, Artspace Mackay, at 10.30am, Saturday, May 29, 2021.

Reserve your free ticket now.