Sky walking with Ernie!
Author: Rob Cullen
Written in response to ‘A Painting about Myself in a Landscape’ (1994–1995)
Sky walking with Ernie. What took my eye was a recognition of the similarity between some of Ernie Zobole’s paintings with Australian – so called Aboriginal – peoples use of sand paintings. I no longer interrogate the basis of such intuition. From ancient times, Australian indigenous people made a kind of aerial landscape art. It is a map-like, bird’s-eye view of the desert landscape, and it is often meant to tell a traditional dreaming story – “time out of time”. Ernie Zobole’s painting involves representations of aerial maps of the valley and the landscape of which he was entirely familiar. But they also hold a dream like quality especially when he depicts himself standing in a doorway – the entranceway – or maybe lying in a bed – (another kind of doorway into dream) looking out on a fragment of the valley map. Doorways are symbolic places of transition representing the passageway to another reality. I mused that if Ernie Zobole’s painting were akin to Australian indigenous people’s art then what would the story of the Songline sound like and what would the story of the Songline tell people about the mythic creatures of the Rhondda. Later I once again considered the painting and thought about the Mohawks “Sky Walking” when constructing sky scrapers combined with ideas involving five-dimensional space. Walking through Ynyshangarad Park, a friend who was very familiar with Ernie Zobole’s work, had considered whether the artist had outer body experiences which seems to be reflected in the aerial maps but also of his depiction of himself not only looking down at the Rhondda but of himself looking out while looking in.