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The sleep series began on the 18th April, 2015.

  As many good things, it started organically.. I earn some income as a deep tissue masseur for physical performers and one of my clients sent me a message saying that she'd ".. love to see what she looks like through the eyes of my paintbrush". Asher Bowen-Saunders turned up after a day of working as a 'living statue' and as she was tired, I suggested that she just have a snooze, as I've always been fascinated with sleep. Whilst working on her painting, I began to muse upon the contrast between the energetic natures of these highly active performers and their sleeping forms and dreamlife. Childhood memories came to me of watching my mother sleeping, and what seemed to be a shadow floating over her closed eyes. I imagined this to be either her soul or dreams moving around her.

The amount and nature of movement that physical performers go through in their sleep fascinates me, (the hypnagogic jerk, for example, is more prevalent in them than sedentary people), as does their highly diverse relationships to sleep and the part it plays in their own creative journeys. Nearly a year into the sleep series I started to think about the relationship between the dissolution of our conscious selves as we pass into the hyperreal world of REM sleep cycles, and the movement of dust in space, the potentials of dark matter and how stars are formed and destroyed in nebulae. Buddhist philosophy indicates that we are not of solid form, but are made up of minute energies or matter.

I feel that I am still at the very beginning of this series, akin to non-rem stage 2 sleep, where eye movement stops, brain waves alter, the heart rate slows and the body begins to prepare for the depth. Each new interaction and set of paintings open more questions to explore and more of an emotional understanding of the dream reality. I am honoured to have the opportunity to work with so many deeply creative souls, who are so willing to share their thoughts, feelings and time with me. Much love and many thanks to you all!

Here are some works in no particular order..

Broken Sleep, Incomplete sleep, patterns broken

Broken Sleep
Acrylic on canvas, 1380 x 1020mm, 2017
Richard Causer, a contemporary dancer working with Expressions Dance Company, sees sleep as incomplete and broken shapes.

'Emerging' joins some friends

Rudi Mineur, Master of Circus
Acrylic on Canvas, 970 x 970mm, 2016

Natano Fa'anana, Love and Strength

Natano Fa'anana, Love and Strength
Acrylic on canvas, 1020 x 1980mm, 2017
This painting relates to Natano's Pe'a, the traditional Samoan tattoo for men. Loosely, it symbolises the love of his mother wrapping around him, giving him strength to love, support and protect his family and friends

Emma Serjent

Dark Matter
Acrylic on canvas, 1020 x 1530mm,2017
Shannon Berry Bam is a circus performer involved with Vulcana Women's Circus in Brisbane and we have worked on several paintings together. Like almost all of the physical performers, her sleep is both restorative and highly active and almost every time I'd look back from my canvas to her, she would be in a slightly different position. I love all of that and just keep painting them in their various new places and wait for them to cycle around again to approximate positions to continue my work.

Emma Serjent

Emma and the Hypnic Jerk
Acrylic on canvas, 1000 x 1500mm 2015
Emma Serjeant is an exceedingly dynamic performer and mind. A meteor, tumbling backwards, the hypnic shock to the heart causing startled, protective movement of the limbs..


Sabine van Rensburg – Dream and trust in yourself
Acrylic on Canvas, 960 x 960mm, 2016
Sabine is an circus aerialist, dreaming of letting go of the silks high above the ground, to catch them again. Trusting herself, she has developed this skill to a beautiful artform


Creative Fire - Asher Bowen-Saunders

Creative Fire - Asher Bowen-Saunders
Acrylic on Canvas, 970 x 970mm, 2018
Sleep informs many creative artists, Asher is an acrobat and contemporary dancer based in Brisbane. In her painting, I am looking at the creative inspiration that sometimes comes to us in dreams as well as Asher's specific creative fire.

Studio sketches from Billy Shannon’s art studio in June 2015

Some studio sketches done in June 2015

Nicky Flaubert seeking her corner

Nicky Faubert - Seeking
Acrylic on canvas, 1530 x 970mm, 2015
Nicky seeking her corner, seeking certainty, space and place.

The Feather Collector

The Feather Collector
Acrylic on canvas, 970 x 970mm 2017
Hannaka Johnson's dreams and memories.
Hannaka's musical experiment, The Feather Collector, feathers to represent the spirits of friends who have passed on.

Ocean Sky Dreaming

Ocean Sky Dreaming
Acrylic on canvas, 1020 x 1220mm, 2017
Eliza Dolly, of Vulcana Women's Circus, finds the colours of tropical oceans relaxing. She rests in the ocean of dreams, as we look up through the crashing waves to the stars that were above her when she was born.

Nebulous Sleep - A self-portrait

Nebulous Sleep
Acrylic on canvas, 865 x 865mm, 2016
A self-portrait sleeping, and some of the nebulae in the Cygnus constellation, which was directly above me at birth. Each night before sleep, I program myself to try to reinstate the original 'pattern' which is Billy. It is a healing process and aimed at dumping some of the muck that we accumulate throughout our lives.

Whale Dreaming

Whale Dreaming
Acrylic on canvas, 1220 x 1020mm, 2018
Chloe de Buyl-Pisco, listening to whales, dreaming of communicating with them.