John Donegan, Early Spring, 2021, Epson Ultrachrome K3 pigment inks on Canson Pro Canvas, 110 x 72.5 cm, Photo COTA
John Donegan is an artist with a background in photojournalism. His artistic practice searches for the beauty in the menial and ordinary rhythms of everyday life, often highlighting the seemingly unimportant, insignificant, or unseen. The Broken Creek marks a turning point, whereby Donegan is exploring finding peace within nature and himself.
Allowing himself to enjoy his own company for the first time, Donegan finds old things to be seen anew. Sitting in the landscape he finds endless brown entwined with a myriad of bland greens. Unattractive and unpleasant, this landscape by the Rocks taunts him, yet Donegan finds a patience to hold still, listen and see. It is not the sublimity of landscape that interests Donegan, instead he finds pleasure in the sound of flies, scattered dead trees, and in frantic marching of ants. Imagining himself within the unexceptional rhythms of nature, this new body of work finds peace and comfort within, paying homage to the ordinary and habitual beats of life.
Artist Exhibition Statement
Photojournalism was the perfect career for my madness.
The chaos of the newsroom allowed me to thrive.
My mania would conjure up ridiculous projects and I would work day and night to complete them.
Alternatively, I remember telling myself, when I was down, to just shoot through it.
I learned about mindfulness in hospital and it turns out that every time I picked up a camera I was practicing mindfulness: Grounded; in the moment; outward looking.
After I left full-time photojournalism, my madness ground me down slowly, crushingly, until I could not live with it any longer.
During this period the worst place for me to be was alone and resulted in many poor life choices.
Now, diagnosed and appropriately medicated, being alone is a joy. A joy I am reacquainting myself with after a 35 year hiatus.
I sit in the bush around the Broken Creek and allow it to reveal itself to me: Different in each hour, different in each season, all various moods of the same being.
My recovery has required me to confront the traumas buried in the shadows of my life; to be vulnerable; to embrace the full gamut of emotions that I once shielded myself from.
The Broken Creek represents a change in subject matter that mirrors my changed mental state: Peaceful, contemplative, with a myriad of detail in the deepest shadows.