Did Covid Pause Creativity and Did Nature Reignite It for Maki Horanai?

In 2019 I was at the high point of my art career in Dubai. I had a line up of solo shows, group exhibitions and a public moving art display about to come to reality. Like many other artists I felt the doors close to my career as lockdowns became reality and all events were cancelled. I found myself at home with hours to paint stretching before me, but a complete creative mental block. I couldn’t pick up a brush and when I saw a blank canvas, instead of images and colours flowing out of my imagination, I saw nothing, just white, just emptiness.

Life moved on and I found myself in the most beautiful corner of the world owning Yallingup Galleries. It was an absolute joy to see our first exhibition come to life earlier this month, with the works of Roslyn Hamdorf and Maki Horanai.

Unfortunately, Maki couldn’t join us, so she sent some words for me to read on her behalf. They touched my soul and soothed the hurt of the Dubai career I had lost. For this reason I would like to share with you her story of ‘The Hymn of Trees’. Perhaps it will resonate with you too.

The Hymn of Trees

In 2019 Maki was energetically painting, with many solo and group shows over the past 20 years in Australia and Japan. The pandemic started and paused Maki’s ability to paint; motivation and inspiration froze in time as the events across the world unfolded and she watched, unable to even think about painting.

She immersed herself in nature, connecting to the energy and flow of life around her. She gardened and watched the vegetables grow, seeing life spring forth provided a new satisfaction, the natural world continued on, untouched and thriving as the human events unfolded.

One day, while sitting dreamily in the garden Maki started thinking about a dead tree standing quietly before her. When she had moved into her home on Tamborine Mountain this dead tree had branches stretching above the surrounding trees, reaching for the sun although its leaves had long since fallen. It had beautiful spreading white branches which were a popular place for birds. 

She realised this tree had become short, so many branches had been lost over the years, day by day, storm by storm. Had anyone noticed this gradual ageing of such a proud tree?  

Maki started thinking of this white tree quite often, the memory of the beautiful white branches reaching into her mind and stirring her creativity once again. What remained of this tree had so many memories for those living around it. Small birds rest there during the day and at dusk, cockatoos come and sit with clamped claws. Maki could see present and past together like the cycle of our life.

In moments like this art collections are born. The core of the exhibition had spoken to Maki and stories and imagery started forming as they had before Covid. This White Tree had quietly reignited the dreams we see in this collection – The Hymn of Trees.



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