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oil, pigment, charcoal, canvas
2 x (121cm w x 152cm h)
subject - Himba woman, Namibia
courtesy of Gaye and Grant Murphy
by Christopher R. Inwood
about this painting

WHAT the artist writes


A man looks through a lens at her. The shutter snaps. The camera records and preserves her mesmerising light. He eventually has to turn away.  His travels have taken him across the globe, but now he is heading for home. A small SD card safely keeps her light. He returns to the warmth of his family with precious cargo. He reaches into his pocket and shows his family her precious light. Her marvellous light they too can see. 

She will never know her enormous light sits here, but we all can see her light.


A Sensory Affirmation of Our Collective Realities defines what “Art” is. Commonly, Art is considered to be painting, sculpture, drawing and recently photography, and those indoctrinated into these guidelines for Art feverishly defend their definition. History has always struggled with the definition, with each generation expanding and redefining what Art is and what form it is meant to take. Sometimes disciplines like architecture, music, or film are accepted as art, however they are often considered to involve similar processes, but are viewed in their own categories. Nevertheless, we must consider that all things are art from the extreme skill of a football player to the intricacies of discussion, to the mechanisation and processes of making a plastic cup. Those who often argue that an object is or isn’t art have usually been indoctrinated into a subjective narrative of class and taste, and tend to use rhetoric and reasoning of ‘it just is’ and ‘it just isn’t’ or ‘this is good art’ and this ‘is bad art’.  These classifications are void of tangible reasons.

This work of ‘art’ highlights that art is purely a sensory experience that relies on the ability of others with similar sensory abilities to confirm its existence. Some of the 9-21 senses that we use to confirm the existence of the world around us include sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing, and it is through this sensory existence that we as humans experience and communicate with each other.  The ‘Art’, as objects or in an immaterial state, can be communicated through its visibility, taste, smell, or sound, or in combination.  For example a vision impaired person (from birth) has the inability to receive the image of the Mona Lisa, and would argue its inexistence in a world, as the touch of a flat plain would not depict Leonardo’s illusion and this image of the Mona Lisa would go unconfirmed and not be considered Art. To visually impaired people however, the sculpture of David existed, as through their sense of touch they could confirm the existence of a bronze form, understanding it as the human form through their touch. This premise can be applied to any of our senses. For example, the majority of the world’s population have sight and can therefore confirm the existence of the Mona Lisa’s two dimensional content, and also use descriptive language to ‘verbally paint’ the idea of the Mona Lisa to a person with visual impairment. Similarly, people with a hearing impairment would struggle to confirm the existence of the sounds of Mozart. Art is simply agreeing that something exists in our reality, confirmed by our sensory input.


To me, ‘A sensory affirmation our collective realities’ is an accurate description of art.


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