Linden EXTRA

Creating Certainty

Dr Marion Piper's essay Creating Certainty explores her response to seeing art in real life in January, when she visited the Linden Postcard Show 2020-21.


The year is 20-87. Or maybe it’s 2020, I can’t remember anymore. We’re Never Alone – or we’re completely alone, I can’t tell. And no matter how hard I try, I spend the majority of life living up in my head. 

You too? It’s hard not to when you’re told to go and ‘seize the world’ one day and ‘stay home’ the next. All these mixed messages are making me nauseous. I don’t fancy myself a conspiracy theorist but LORDY LORD – is art imitating life imitating art again? Or am I trapped in a Matrix style dream, plugged into the machines and living on phyto-goo? 

See what I mean – even the most simple metaphor falls flat. I promise I’m sober and totally lucid, but I recently found myself unraveling in a month full of historic planetary conjunctions. Venus and Uranus shared the same right ascension under the constellation of Aries in the night sky. Love and sudden change were on the menu and it appeared the whole world was hungry for seconds.


I woke up one Wednesday morning (or was it a Sunday?) to the faint hum of Pandemic Sonata in C Major on the radio, a hauntingly familiar refrain (even though I didn’t know the words). A Little Banksia caught shafts of sunlight in its grip in a glass jar by the window as I sat up, stretched, and placed my feet on the unpolished wooden floor.  

I’d been counting how many days, hours, minutes and seconds I’d been here. Working by the numbers was the only way to create the certainty I needed. At first, The Waiting was unprecedented, but it eventually became the ‘new normal’ (whatever that really means). All I knew was that the numbers were large and they kept going up. Then they didn’t. Then they did again. It’s the worst game I’ve ever unintentionally played.

I slip into my work pajamas and exit the bedroom, wishing the bathroom and hallway a ‘good morning’ on my way downstairs. The house creaks and groans to life the same way each day, in fits and starts. Wood and steel in conversation, arguing about the meaning of life as I tiptoe through so as not to interject. 

Flicking the coffee machine on, I think about my best friend in San Diego and wonder if At Night She’s Dreaming Of A Plastic Love, just like I am. Are we all having the same day-mare? The one where life's on repeat yet time continues to march forward, despite our attempts to stop the spread of experience? It’s a reverie I entertain whenever I have a spare moment which, these days, happens more often than I’d like to admit.

Last night I dreamt of The Chrysalids, crawling through my mind and gobbling up all the bad thoughts and negative self talk. I often let them loose in there after a busy week or when I don’t have the courage to express myself fully to those I love. I’ve learned that self expression has the dual purpose of releasing what’s within and eliciting understanding from what’s without. Where our internal and external worlds meet is the battleground of connection. And right now, I Really Wish We Could Really Wish for what we wanted – instead, we must appreciate what’s right in front of us. 

Coffee in hand, I wander down the hall. Under a chipped wooden arch, adjacent to the sweeping marble staircase, is a library. Books of all shapes and colours fill enormously deep and cavernous shelves, the faint smell of musk and moths hanging on the air. I can’t make out any of the titles from here, so I move to enter the room, leaving a trail of caffeinated aroma in my wake. 

Passing through the doorway feels like pushing my fingers into jelly – cool, soft, and easy to do, but a strange sensation nevertheless. Uncanny is the word that comes to mind.

I catch sight of something peculiar in the left corner of the library. “Specific Generalised Anxiety”, hand painted onto a carnivalesque sign above a section of brightly coloured books. I run my fingertips along the spines, reading as I go.


What enthralling reads! I take the first title off the shelf and wedge it in my armpit as I slide onto a faded floral print chaise lounge by the window. This has become a staple in my daily routine for months even though I barely absorb a word that passes across my eyes. Sometimes life feels like that too: a little too real, bright and vivid to watch.


Let’s Pause here. I want you to dilate your vision and try to take in the whole room you’re sitting in right now using your peripheral vision: what can you see? Curtains, a desk or maybe a cup of tea long gone cold?

Hold the world in your periphery: what can you imagine beyond the walls of your home, beyond the streets you now know by heart? Tropical beaches, cities bursting with energy or even rivers teeming with fish and algae?

I promise you, it’s all still there. Waiting. That is The Dichotomy of Nature my friends...even when you’re not there, you’re there. 

I want to live in a place Where the clouds are far behind me. A place where ‘iso’ means the sensitivity of a camera’s lens. A place where certainty is certain, not a ship in the night only docking when it’s safe. But here’s the twist: that place exists and it’s closer than you think.


Up in your head, of course.

IMAGES [top to bottom] > Ashleigh Pugh, Family, 2020, mixed media on wood, 25.4 x 20.32 cm > Kent Morris, Never Alone, 2020, digital print on aluminium, 20.32 x 25.4 cm > Penny Byrne, Pandemic Sonata in C Major, 2020, Vintage Italian ceramic wall plaque, miniature Corona beer bottles, Japanese hand blown glass fishing buoys, vintage coral from a Coolangatta souvenir, epoxy resin, acrylic paints,
47 x 40 x 11 cm. Music: Antonio Vivaldi, Trio Sonata in C Major, RU82,11. Larghetto-Lento > Jenny-Anne Jett, At Night She’s Dreaming of a Plastic Love, 2020, photographic print, 20.32 x 25.4 cm > Richard Stringer, The Chrysalids, 2020, alabaster, 72 x 77 x 60cm > Anna Hoyle, Specific Generalised Anxiety, 2019-20, gouache on paper on wood, 200 x 150cm  > Michael Kluge, Pause, 2020, photographic print, 20.32 x 25.4cm
> Steffie Wallace, The Dichotomy of Nature, 2020, oil on canvas, 61 x 183 cm. All photographs: Theresa Harrison Photography

+ Visit the Linden Postcard Show 2020-21  + Visit the Postcard Show 30th Birthday

creating certainty

Dr Marion Piper's essay Creating Certainty explores her response to seeing art in real life in January, when she visited the Linden Postcard Show 2020-21.
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30th birthday artists in their studio

Stunning studio photographs by Theresa Harrison accompanied by a series of reflections from the artists, providing new insights into their practice.

Hedy Ritterman

I see death and the passage of time as a natural part of life and want to engage in ideas about the power of loss ..
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Kenny Pittock

Often my work draws upon nostalgia to playfully engage with the mundane every day .+ Read more


My creative process becomes a meditative act in itself…drawing me into the moment of self-forgetting ...
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Prudence Flint

I paint mainly women in interiors. I want to create a recognisable intensity and intimacy ...
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William Eicholtz

I hope viewers experience Joy in the sensuality of the elaborate and boldly theatrical, and surprise at the allure of this artifice ...
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the Behind the scenes
of our current shows

Ash Keating

In 2020 I decided to use the strange year and lockdowns as an opportunity to experiment with textures and mark making which I had long been hoping to find time to explore ...
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Troy Emery

I very briefly studied fashion and considered it as a career, which certainly shaped my approach to making work ...
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Nicholas Folland

My work responds to both the domestic and to natural environments, often looking for a point where these two areas collide or come into conflict ...
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What's coming
next at Linden

22 May 2021 > 22 August 2021

Ruth Höflich

To Feed your Oracle

Ruth Höflich is an artist and filmmaker, born in Munich, Germany, and currently based in Melbourne. In an installation of video, photography and site intervention, To Feed Your Oracle will explore how we might understand, or predict, things that we can’t see and how our expectations might affect how we experience the unknown.
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Vipoo Srivalasa

Wellness Deity

Vipoo Srivilasa is a Thai-born Melbourne-based artist, curator and arts activist. This exhibition will present the Wellness Deity Project, which Srivilasa undertook in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This collaborative, community-driven project invited people to submit a drawing of their Wellness Deity, a being that has a special empowering or protective power.

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Natasha Bieniek

Natasha Bieniek is best-known for her miniature oil paintings. Bieniek’s paintings are meticulous in their execution and demand close inspection. They link the ancient tradition of 16th century miniature painting with present-day image culture.

This exhibition brings together a suit of recent works that have not been seen together before, including Bieniek’s stand out painting, Biophilia, which was the winner of the Wynne Prize in 2015.

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Things to explore in our Local Neighbourhood to enhance your next visit to St Kilda and the gallery.
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Linden Contemporaries

A recap of recent Linden Contemporaries adventures exploring some of the best private art collections in Melbourne.
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Thank you!

We look forward to welcoming you at the gallery soon to see our latest series of solo exhibitions by leading mid-career artists.
> Troy Emery's Sonder
> Nicholas Folland's Burn Down the House
> Ash Keating's Duality.

If you would like to find out more about these exceptional artists, book into a Meet the Artist session to hear from them what drives their practice and what inspires their creativity.

I would like to offer my thanks to Creative Victoria for the additional funding to support this new initiative and to the fabulous team at Linden who have worked behind the scenes to create Linden Extra.

Melinda Martin
March 2021

Q&A by Juliette Hanson | Editing: Juliette Hanson & Chloé Hazelwood | Design: Mathieu Vendeville