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2000 - 2010

This decade has been one of major changes. A move from my Scotland Island home of 22 years in Sydney’s northern beach area to oceanfront at Mystery Bay on the wild south coast of NSW.

A more introspective time, a time for study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism. Time to be present at the death of each parent, as they passed away, just 5 months apart in 2005. A profound experience that I’m grateful to have shared with them. Time to contemplate the bardo (transitional) states.

Perhaps I’d been preparing myself for this as I painted two series earlier this decade called ‘Spirit Country’ and ‘Crossing Over’. Certainly, for the last 8 years I've been investigating more thoroughly the alchemic and transformational qualities of each element and now especially fire and water, whilst exploring a wild coastline with ancient rocks formed by volcano and tossed by Tsunamis. My work continues to be informed by the natural environment, energies that form and dissolve our world and the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism (Dzogchen) and Tantric Art.

I also finished with teaching part-time at TAFE, Eora Faculty of Aboriginal Studies and the National Art School in Sydney.

Travelled overseas, staying in Singapore, Paris, London and Sikkim, then travelling through Central South India and New Zealand’s North Island. In Australia, more journeys to the Northern Territory, Lake Mungo and Lake Eyre.

Alchemy Series


2000: Artist Statement for series: Crossing Over

There is a slightly surreal quality to these works. Evocative forms float in an intensity of warm light, forming connections in a seemingly firey landscape. The element fire indicates transformation, the space is illuminated. The texture is multi layered and rich, with a translucent wax finish. The purpose of forming and dissolving textures and the heat of melting wax enhance a sense of alchemy during the making of the works.


2000: Artists Statement: Spirit Country

These paintings are about states of transition. Passing from one state to another: a consciousness shift, from one realm of existence to another. The energy flow embodied in each work suggests an ease of passage, being part of the stream, a state of grace, crossing over. Transitory states, a sense of ' as above, so below'.

Spirit Country acknowledges our dimensional existence and internal space. As we travel through country, we also travel through our thoughts and emotions, as our body breathes, heart pumps and blood circulates, eye/brain neural pathways pulse and our awareness expands by recognizing and linking internal and external energy patterns. Journeys can be metaphoric, ie: place = state of mind and sometimes I feel liberated and travel through a sacred landscape, one of elemental energy, space, light and luminosity.

Mixed media is used: drawing ink, printing ink, oil pastels, pigments, gold and wax, Gold suggesting the alchemic process of transformation.

The surface is smooth and refined (just like I like transition to be) with a translucent quality offered by the wax.


2000: Organised Sydney venues for Millennium Tour of the Gyuto monks of Tibet.

Gyuto monks: chanting at Pitt St uni Gyuto Monks: concert on Scotland Island Flying the Tibetan flag Gyuto Monks: starting the Mandala Gyuto Monks: sightseeing in Sydney  

2001: Survey exhibition by Manly Art Gallery & Museum: 'Carmen Ky: Alchemic Wilderness: A survey 1988-2001' curated by Therese Kenyon & Katherine Roberts. (see Text page for catalogue essay)

2001: Artist Statement for Flying Home series.

My intention was to suggest the experience of flying over Central Australia, invoking sinuous waterways as they snake through the landscape amidst the familiar form and texture of the land. The floating linear shapes are reminiscent of clouds or spirit forms and enhance a sense of dimension. the texture is rich and layered , the colours pure and saturated in wax. The intensity of colour alters space. The painting could just as easily be about the internal flow of blood pulsing through the veins, as a landscape viewed from the air.


2005: Alchemic Ambience: Desert and Ocean: exhibition statement.


“Alchemic Ambience: Desert and Ocean” forms a collection of paintings, prints and mixed media from the Central Australian Desert to Mystery Bay.

This exhibition follows on from the theme of her last solo exhibition in Sydney called “Alchemic Wilderness: a survey 1988 - 2001: Lake Mungo, Desert and Kakadu” curated by the director of the Manly Art Gallery and Museum and based on Ky’s repeated journeys over 13 years into desert regions.

In using the term ‘alchemic ambience’ Ky refers to a change in state, a more contemplative state of mind that spontaneously occurs in wilderness or natural places of great beauty and elemental intensity.

“Open space, clear light and shimmering presence are intrinsic to both the desert and the ocean and affirm the importance of natural places for revitalizing the spirit and resting the mind,” Ky said.

Mystery Bay is mysterious yet is blatantly elemental. The rocks tell of lava flow from the sacred mountain, formed by fire and flowing out to sea, with energy lines etched by wind and water. A wild coastline sheltering special places. A coastline fed by lakes. Inlets where fresh water meets salt water: places where life begins and myths are born. A vast ocean of shimmering light stretching to an island inhabited by colonies of seals and fairy penguins. The headlands, bays and coastline are complex, a myriad of forms. Every time I walk those beaches, familiar shapes, like ancient reptiles, greet me and as I walk, I continually discover something new. Under the umbrella of Alchemic Wilderness: ‘Mystery Bay’ is part of an ongoing series called “Alchemic Ambience: Fire and Water”. These works are dealing more with water, the yin-yang (salt-fresh) aspects of water and the interface of formative elements. Fire, water, earth and air are all here where the mountains are close to the sea and the lakes meet the ocean.

2005: Dying Mother and Memories of Walking her Country.

I spent 10 days at my mothers side as she lay dying in 2005, often thinking about the walks we used to do. My parents spent the last 25 years of their life on a property at Verona, between Bega and Cobargo, Southern NSW.  I was with each one as they passed over, just 5 months apart. It was an extraordinary time, sharing that final moment. Life really is just a breathe away. For the painting I placed a sketch of my dying mother in a grid (grid of consciousness) floating above her land. I completed the painting during the year after her death.

Dying Mother and Memories of walking her country, painting

Dzogchen Retreats at Namgyalgar.

Between 2002 and 2009 I attended many teachings at Namgyalgar in Tilba Tilba NSW and the retreats conducted by Tibetan Dzogchen Master Chogyal Namkai Norbu when he came to Australia.

Chogyal Namkhai Norbu poster
  Namkhai Norbu at Namgyalgar  
Retreat group
  Retreat group

2005: At The River

“At the River” a collection of paintings, prints and mixed media from the Central Australian Desert, Mystery Bay and the River and Lake Systems of the SE Coast of NSW.

Exhibition Statement 2005:

Open space, clear light and shimmering presence are intrinsic to oceans, rivers, lakes and the desert, affirming the importance of natural places for revitalizing the spirit and resting the mind. The elemental beauty and vast space of nature reinforce notions of infinity. South: is a wild coastline sheltering special places. A coastline fed by rivers and lakes. Inlets where fresh water meets salt water: Places where life begins and myths are born.

"The River" invite
  Mystery Bay Cloudy Morning  Mystery Bay Cloudy Morning Crosscurrent    

2007: Walangari & Friends

Exhibition with Aboriginal artists: Walagari Karntawarra, Diivii and William Tjupurulla McKenzie at Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney


2007: Not Another Landscape

June 2007: Mechanics Institute Moruya: Exhibition:
’Not Another Landscape’ Presented by Eurobodalla Shire Council and curated by Jan Lewis:
 ‘How we find meaning in landscape is often a reflection of how we see ourselves, our communities and how we value our environment. Through  contemporary perspectives this exhibition reflects the meaning of our environment more than just the depiction of it.’ 
Artists: Rick Anderson, Susan Christie, Lorna Crane, Lola Cullen Margaret Dimoff, Carmen Ky and Cameron Williams.



2007: Travel, Research, Study. 2007 was a busy time for work and for travel.

October 2007: travelled to Singapore, London, Paris: visited galleries, art fair and museums.

Oct/ November / December 2007: Travelled to India: Kolkata for Durga Pujas, then up to Sikkim (between Nepal and Bhutan) spent 2 months studying Tantric art, mandala and yantra with Kulavadhuta Satpurananda (Baba) a Vajrayana Yogi, accomplished Tantric scholar and Buddhist Iconographer. We followed the trail of Padmasambhava (who took Buddhism from India to Tibet) visiting many caves, sacred lakes and old Monasteries in West Sikkim. Then went down to  Mumbai, visited the Elephanta and Karla caves and many more cave sites. Travelled to Pune, then central South India and visited the Ellora and Ajanta caves near Aurangabad: sites of the earliest Buddhist paintings and sculptures. (one cave was rediscovered 200BC)



Following my trip to India in 2007, I produced work based on the elements which incorporates structures from esoteric Tantric teaching on mandala. Each element is represented by a triptych - the outer panels contain a Tibetan letter representing the sound vibration of the element and the central panel has the sanskrit equivalent.  Here is some of that work.


Gallery Bodalla: ‘Summer Collection’ with 4 other artists: Amanda Williams, Margaret Dimoff, Sandra Hendy and Paul Dimmer. I exhibited oil paintings from the Desert Series and some prints from the ‘Spirit Country’ Series.





Exhibition statements 'From the Void/Spirit Country'. Prints and mixed media by Carmen Ky and Chris Denton at Spiral Gallery, Bega.


Drypoints by Chris Denton: "I have taken the genre of Still Life as a starting point to develop images that reflect my interests in the natural order, number, mathematics and philosophy of science as a belief system for our understanding of the world around us. The viewer is invited to ponder the nature of existence and appearances."

Etchings, Mixed Media and Encaustic by Carmen Ky: "Spirit Country acknowledges our dimensional existence, internal and external energy patterns and elemental energies that form and dissolve our world. As we travel through country, we also travel through our thoughts and emotions ... and a landscape of elemental energy, space, light and luminosity.








Carmen Ky in the studio

Carmen Ky in the studio Carmen Ky - inking up Carmen Ky in the studio    

2010: Desert Lakes Series: Lake Mungo

More journeys to Lake Mungo in 2009 & 2010.
Lake Mungo desert is an ice age landscape. This body of work charts the physical and metaphysical planes of the landscape. I’m working predominantly with oil paint and wax (encaustic) and some mixed media. These are some of the paintings completed so far.









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