Blue Mountains National Park, NSW – landscape painting

January 2018, a short trip from Sydney, so familiar it’s too easy to take this national park for granted. Sublime, distant stillness, with the ever present edge of danger, fires in summer. Several days mainly revisiting old haunts and lookouts each morning and some sketching before the thunderstorms rolled in at four o’clock each afternoon. Working en plein air, spontaneous and free, but the painting is going backwards trying to bring it all together, in pursuit of that elusive one shot action painting.
This trip a reminder of previous bushwalks to the Wollangambe River, inflatable rafting through the gorges and ravines, falling over a large rapid or small waterfall (depending on the vantage point), saved from injury by my backpack. The adventures the perfect artistic inspirational experience, light filtered through waterfall spray in a ravine. Black and white photos taken by a friend, still in use for reference, capture the mood of the special places along the river (see below).

The Three Sisters
Echo Point
Wentworth Falls
Govetts Leap
Wollangambe River

Sense of Place

z20180125_180744 The Three Sisters (2)The Three Sisters, Jamison Valley 25/1/2018

z20180125_180750 Echo Point (2)Echo Point, Jamison Valley 25/1/2018

z20180125_181026 Echo Point (2)Echo Point, Jamison Valley 25/1/2018

z20180125_192510 So drinking not painting local critic Dellmere Cottage (2)So drinking not painting…local critic, Katoomba 25/1/2018

z20180127_115647 Govetts Leap (2)Govetts Leap, Grose Valley 27/1/2018

z20180127_120134 Govetts Leap (2)Govetts Leap, Grose Valley 27/1/2018

z20180127_154631 Outdoor studio (2)The outdoor studio, work in progress, before the storm, Katoomba 27/1/2018

Sketches in ink, gouache, and acrylics
trying out colour mixes

z20180127_154646 Work in progress In Dellmere Garden (2)Work in progress, Katoomba 27/1/2018

z20180127_163740 The Red Shed Dellmere Garden (2)Work in progress, The Red Shed (before the storm), Katoomba 27/1/2018

Earlier, working with grey scale values

2014 Wollangambe ravine
Wollangambe Ravine (acrylic, January 2014)

2014 Wollangambe Ravine (oil)
Wollangambe Ravine (oil, 2014)

Wollongambe River – previous photography trips


Art References

Martens (Conrad) Interior of the Burrangalong Cavern 1843 AGNSW
Conrad Martens, Stalagmites, Burragalong Cavern (1843)

von Guerard (Eugene), Weatherboard Creek Falls, Jamieson's Valley, New South Wales (1862) NGV
Eugene von Guerard, Weatherboard Creek Falls, Jamieson’s Valley, New South Wales (1862)

von Guerard (Eugene), Govett's Leap and Grose River Valley, Blue Mountains, New South Wales (1873) NGA
Eugene von Guerard, Govett’s Leap and Grose River Valley, Blue Mountains, New South Wales (1873)

Hern (Charles Edward), Govett's Gorge, looking towards the valley of the Grose, New South Wales, 1879
Charles Edward Hern, Govett’s Gorge, looking towards the valley of the Grose, New South Wales, 1879

Streeton (Aurther Fires On 1891 AGNSW
Arthur Streeton, Fires On, 1891

Malherbe (Robert) Govetts Leap, 2013
Robert Malherbe, Govetts Leap, 2013

Tran (Sokquon ) Wombeyan Caves 2013
Sokquon Tran, Wombeyan Caves (2013)

20180131_171043 (2)
Blake Raymond, Flight 24/7, ArtExpress 2018 AGNSW
‘Flight_24/7 explores the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains landscape and the threat of the proposed development of Badgerys Creek airport. Red flight paths pierce the landscape, symbolising their possible impact on this world heritage site.’





Tahiti, Samoa, and the Art of Polynesia

Best way to spend New Year? Escape to the South Pacific, with added bonus of crossing the international date line and celebrating twice. Back in 1994, flight across the South Seas, sometime into the flight it was back to yesterday and arrived in Papeete, Tahiti, still a French outpost, at five minutes to midnight new year’s eve. It was a while ago, but recently reading about Oceanic Art brought back the memories and visual images so went on a photo and travel notebook hunt. Some recollections. The first two days were fine, allowing time to get a bit acquainted with paradise, walking, and a circle island tour. Then it started raining. It kept raining, torrential rain, for the next three days. Cyclone in the Austral Islands to the south of Tahiti. On an eight day trip, I was losing hope. I could have read novels at home. Dashing about in the deluge to get food, les roulettes (the food trailers), the cafes la Retro, Acajou, the Moulin Rouge, the Piano Bar, I could have been in Montmartre. Then the rain stopped. The colours emerged. Day trip across the Sea of the Moon by catamaran to Mo’orea. Tour of the island to Belvedere (the lookout), picture postcard view over Cooks Bay, Opunohu Bay, and Mount Rotui. Marae Titiroa, pearls, Tiki Village, the locals preparing for the evening show. An entertaining French speaking guide who kept referring to guidebooks to converse in several languages Japanese, German, English. I asked about the meaning of the tattoo around his right angle. He explained that traditionally tattoos in Polynesia reflected one’s social standing, and in his case? ‘Administrative assistant’. Later, bus trip up to Mount Maran to Viamahuta Cascade.

Still enraptured with the South Pacific, late Christmas eve 1996 flew to Samoa. Arrived in the capital Apia, on the main island Upolu, on Christmas Day. Only problem, everything was closed except for the churches in full song ‘Go tell it on the mountain’ resonating near and far. A completely different experience to Tahiti. Back then Samoa was (and hopefully still is) the most traditionally Polynesian country, most of the islands owned communally1. Some recollections of time and place. The fales (homes) open plan living at its extreme, no walls and few possessions, large extended family gatherings, cooking on umus (earth ovens), graves of old chiefs out front next to the cricket pitch. Waking each morning to the sounds of snorting omnivorous ungulates and crowing roosters. Tour of the southeast and across Upolu to the north coast, Papapapaitai Falls, Mafa Pass, Fuipisia Falls, Latofoga Beach, Togitagiga Falls, next to the O Le Pupu-Pué National Park. Flying over the Pacific was reason enough for the visit. On the way back flying into the Kingdom of Tonga, the Pacific dead calm and crystal clear, it was like flying over land, the sea bed with hills, ridges, valleys, reefs in stunning colours.

Art References
Gauguin’s art is widely considered one of the foundations of modern art, he stepped away from observation of the real world (the impressionists and post-impressionists) towards symbolism,2 the breakthrough painting Vision After the Sermon (Jacob wrestling with the angel) (1888), scattered borrowings from East and West artistic traditions. After this painting he abandoned representation, use of colour and ideas dominated his technique, ideas and symbolism from form and subject, dreams and imaginary situations.3 Although he was of his time, an idealist colonial in search of a simple lifestyle, ‘less drawn to Polynesian art, than to their religion and what remained of their lifestyle’2 but, and like other later artists (Ernst, Lipchitz, Epstein, Hess, etc. drawn to the conceptual nature of traditional art forms), could be accused of cultural appropriation4. However for most artists its standard practice to get inspiration from anywhere and from everything, hence the disputed Picasso quote “Bad artists copy. Great artists steal”. Another apt Picasso quote “When I don’t have red, I use blue”. Despite his dubious reasons for being there, Gauguin’s Tahiti paintings are captivating, his use of bright complementary colours a passport to the South Seas.

Venus Point
Blow Hole Arahono
Gauguin Museum
Maraa Caves
Mt Maran

Sinalei (rebuilt after the 2009 tsunami
Coconuts Beach (rebuilt after the 2009 tsunami)

Sense of Place
z950106 Papeete 1 (2)
Papeete 6/1/1995

z950106 Moorea Sea of the Moon 23 (2)
Mo’orea, across the Sea of the Moon 6/1/1995

z950106 Moorea 32 (2)
Mo’orea 6/1/1995

z950106 Moorea 20 Beachcomber (2)
Mo’orea 6/1/1995

z950106 Moorea 27 Tiki Village (2)
Mo’orea, Tiki Village 6/1/1995

z950106 Moorea 26 Tiki Village (2)
Mo’orea, Tiki Village 6/1/1995

z950107 Viamahuta Cascade Tahiti 7 (2)
Viamahuta Cascade, Tahiti, 7/1/1995


z961225 Apia 5 (2)
Apia, Samoa 25/12/1996

z961226 Sinelei Resort 11 (2)
Sinalei Beach, Samoa 26/12/1996

z961228 Coconuts Beach 3 (2)
Coconuts Beach, Samoa 28/12/1996

z961229 Latofoga Beach Samoa
Latofoga Beach, Samoa 29/12/1996

z961229 Along the Coast Samoa Tour 5 (2)
Along the coast, Samoa 29/12/1996

z961229 Samoa Tour 16 (2)
‘Treasure Island’, Samoa 29/12/1996

z961229 Togitagigi Falls Samoa Tour 12 (2)
Togitagiga Falls, Samoa 29/12/1996

Art References

Heva Mourning Dress, Society Islands, Australian Museum

Ahu-parau – Pearl-cloth ornament, Society Islands, Australian Museum

Polynesian Hawaiian feather cloak Australian Museum
Hawaiian feather cloak, Australian Museum

Polynesian Bird-Man Relief, Easter Island, British Museum
Bird-Man Relief, Easter Island, British Museum

Polynesian Marquesas Islander with full body tattooing, drawing 1804

A Marquesas Islander with full body tattooing, drawing 1804, published in Captain A J von Krusenstern, Voyage around the world, London 1913

Polynesian Bird-Man figure, Easter Island, American Museum of National History
Bird-Man figure, Easter Island, American Museum of National History

Polynesian Soul-catcher, Pukapuka, Cook Islands, 1876, British Museum
Soul-catcher, Pukapuka, Cook Islands, 1876, British Museum

Polynesian Staff God Mauke, Cook Islands, Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Staff God Mauke, Cook Islands, Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Polynesian Figure, Tahiti, Society Islands, British Museum
Figure, Tahiti, Society Islands, British Museum

Polynesian Tiki, neck ornament, Maori New Zealand, British Museum
Tiki, neck ornament, Maori New Zealand, British Museum


Gauguin (Paul) Tahitian Landscape 1891
Tahitian Landscape, 1891, Minneapolis Institute of Art

Gauguin (Paul) Rue de Tahiti, 1891, Toledo Museum of Art, Oh
Rue de Tahiti, 1891, Toledo Museum of Art

Gauguin (Paul) Te Burao, 1888, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Te Burao (The Hibiscus Tree), 1892, Art Institute of Chicago

Gauguin (Paul) Parahi te maras, 1892
The Sacred Mountain (Parahi Te Marae), 1892, Museum of Art, Philadelphia

Gauguin (Paul) Mahana maa I Food Day I, 1892, Cincinnati Art Museum
Mahana ma’a, 1892, Cincinnati Art Museum

Gauguin (Paul) Matamoe (Landscape with peacocks), 1892, Pushkin Museum, Moscow
Matamoe (Landscape with peacocks), 1892, Pushkin Museum, Moscow

Modern Art references2

Ernst (Max) Inside the Sight The Egg 1929 Pompidou Centre
Max Ernst, Inside the Sight: The Egg, 1929, Musee National d’Art Moderne, Pompidou

Ernst (Max) Max Ernst, La Belle Jardinière, 1923
Max Ernst, La Belle Jardinière, 1923

Ernst (Max), After Us Motherhood, 1927
Max Ernst, After Us Motherhood, 1927

Hesse (Eva), One More than One, 1967
Eva Hesse, One More than One, 1967

Lipchitz (Jacques), Figure 1926-30, MoMA
Jacques Lipchitz, Figure, 1926-30, MoMA

Epstein (Jacob), Female Figure, 1913, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Jacob Epstein, Female Figure, 1913, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Gaudier-Brzeska (Henri), Doorknocker, 1914
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Doorknocker, 1914

Other references

1 South Pacific Handbook, David Stanley, 5th edition 1993

2 Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art, Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, MoMA, 1984

3 The Post Impressionists, Gauguin, Kultur DVD

4 Art History 101: Why Primitivism was Cultural Appropriation, Ellen Oredsson, 26 October 2016

The Art of Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Fall 1981

Symbolism, José Pierre, 1979

Gauguin, Robert Goldwater, 2004

Masterpieces from Paris – Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and Beyond, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Australia, 2009

New Caledonia and the Art of Melanesia

Myth, imagination, and the power of art. Re-reading a catalogue from an exhibition of art from the Sepik River region, New Guinea (Myth and Magic, NGA August 2015) brought back memories of a short trip to New Caledonia back in July 1999.
New Caledonia, still a French outpost, located approximately 1500 kilometres north-east of Australia, is made up of groups of islands. The three major ones are Grande Terre, Isle of Pines and Loyalty Island. The indigenous people are Melanesians, known as Kanaks.1

Some recollections of the trip. A Lapita pottery exhibition at Musee de Nouvelle Caledonie, the Lapita people arrived in the South West Pacific over 3,000 years ago2. Standing transfixed in front of ceremonial masks, the ‘power of the spirit presence’3, the personality of each piece, beady shell eyes, human hair, bones, and teeth. A group of young skylarking Rastafarian teenagers, dreadlocks and beads, looking like a reggae mosh-pit from a Bob Marley concert, only a couple of decades too late. Hooting and laughing at the photographs of their ancestors in grass skirts, they sauntered over to check out what I was looking at so intently. Silence descended as the power of the pieces took hold. After a while, spooked, we all quietly left the room into the brilliant sunlight with a heightened awareness of the power of the past, still relevant to us today. It’s hard to imagine how powerful the masks were on moonless nights, around the fire, when they emerged from the darkness into the firelight. That would have sent any teenagers home for an early night and allow the elders the time to contemplate the universe, existence, and what to do about the hostile neighbours. On a visit to a traditional Kanak house, a fellow traveller forgot to duck as he entered the doorway and was literally scalped. An ambulance arrived and he was taken away to hospital, he was OK but everyone shaken due to the sight of a lot of blood. Met again at the airport a couple of days later. Sutured and heavily bandaged he laughed off the incident saying it would be a good conversation starter over drinks for years to come. He had been in town to trace his Kanak ancestry. A couple of generations back, his ancestors had been enslaved and transported to Cairns to harvest sugar cane. The Tjibaou Centre, extraordinary architecture, designed by Renzo Piano, appears like a series of oversized baskets from a distance. The aquarium’s amazing display of fluorescent corals and flashlight fish.

Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre
Musee de Nouvelle Caledonie
Aquarium des Lagons

Sense of Place

z 990715 Noumea

Noumea 15/7/1999

z 990715 Tjiabou Centre 1 Noumea

Tjibaou Centre 15/7/1999

z 990715 Tjiabou Centre 4 Noumea

Tjibaou Centre 15/7/1999

z 990715 Tjiabou Centre 8 Noumea

Tjibaou Centre 15/7/1999

z 990715 Tjiabou Centre grounds Great House 2 Noumea

Traditional Kanak great house 15/7/1999

z 990715 Tjiabou Centre grounds traditonal house Noumea

Scene of the scalping, traditional Kanak house 15/7/1999

z 990716 Lagoon 1 Noumea

Noumea 16/7/1999

z 990716 Noumea

Noumea 16/7/1999

Art References

Kanak mask, New Caledonia

Melanesian Water spirit mask
Water spirit or Costume mask, mid 19th century, Central Grande Terre Island, New Caledonia

Melanesian mourning mask
Mourning Mask, before 1853 C.E., Kanak, New Caledonia

Melanesian mask Torres Strait PNG (2)
Mask, Torres Strait3

Melanesian mask 1 (2)
Mask, Erub Island, Torres Strait4

Nolde (Emil) Still Life with South Sea Sculpture (2)
Emil Nolde, Still Life with South Sea Sculpture3

Nolde (Emil) Mask Still Life III 1911
Emil Nolde, Mask Still Life III (1911)

Nolde (Emil) Masks II 1920
Emil Nolde, Masks II, 1920

Other references

1 South Pacific Handbook, David Stanley, 5th edition 1993
2 Lapita, The Pottery from the Site at Foué, New Caledonia, Christophe Sand, 1999
3 Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art, Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, MoMA, 1984
4 The Art of Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Fall 1981
Myth + Magic, Art of the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea, National Gallery of Australia, 2015
Power of Art, Simon Schama, 2006

Tanzania and the Art of Africa

Always captivated by the art of Africa, the impact the art had in particular on Picasso, a journey to Africa was always on my art appreciation expeditions list. Made it happen back in late December 2005, only a short time, ten days in Tanzania, but packed with action and incident, a cultural encounter albeit brief, that still remains vivid long after the experience. One of those trips, being out in the landscape, to see art in the making, and in galleries, however what could go wrong did go wrong, but the journey was much more than expected, just meeting the guides, the locals with their art, and seeing native animals roaming free in their environment where they belong (not in a zoo).

Some recollections
On the way from the airport into Nairobi, Kenya, middle of a long dry season, the Maasai grazing their precious cattle on the grass verges, including the downtown business district, with marabou storks roosting in the trees. The bus trip from Nairobi to Arusha in Tanzania, the landscape parched, dust devil whirlwinds in the distance. Visit to Ilkinding’a village, huts, cattle and corn, walk through nearby gorge. Walking around Arusha, including National Natural History Museum featuring caste of one of our ancestors Lucy (Australopithecus) (hominin species bones 1.2 million years old), tools, Laetoli footprints (3.5 million years old), art emporiums, and huge craft market. Lake Manyara, although due to the long dry season the lake was far in the distance, a thin pink line of flamingoes just visible in the distant haze. Amazing range of animals: giraffe, elephant, hippopotamus, zebra, wildebeest, impala, gazelle, dikdiks, warthogs, baboons, vervet monkeys, helmeted guinea fowl. Evenings at Migunga Bush Camp around an outdoor fire, with monkeys cavorting around in the trees. MtoWaMbu, a market village, wood carving, banana plantation, banana beer making, the markets had an impressive range of quality art, mainly sculpture, MeKonde masks the standout. Drive through Moshi to Marangu, on the eastern slope of Mount Kilimanjaro. To the locals Kilimanjaro has two peaks Kibo (the snow covered peak) and Mawenzi. Long walk around the village of Marangu with local market. Walk to a lookout but Kilimanjaro covered in cloud, so no postcard pictures on this trip. Kilimanjaro National Park, two hour walk to Marangu Gate (the start of the Kilimanjaro trek taken by about 90% of over 12,000 trekkers each year)1, monkey spotting worth all the effort to see blue monkeys, and black and white colobus monkeys in the wild.

Art references
Wandering back through the history of western art and the pivotal moments when an artist, or group of artists, smash through the received wisdom and conventions to land at a new level of seeing. One such point when Picasso looked at African art not in an ethnocentric sense but as new way of expression, which led to his breakthrough painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), ‘fundamental shift in the nature of art from styles rooted in visual perception to others based on conceptualisation’.2 (art references below).

Mount Meru
Ilkiding’a Village
MtoWaMbu – market town
Migunga Bush Camp
Lake Manyara National Park
Kilimanjaro National Park

Sense of Place

Z 051226 Mt Meru on the road to Arusha
Mt Meru on the road to Arusha 26/12/2005

z 051227 1 Gorge near Ilkiding'a villiage
Gorge near Ilkiding’a Village 27/12/2005

z 051227 2 Traditonal dance performance Ilkiding'a Village (2)
Locals, Ilkiding’a Village 27/12/2005

z 051227 Markets Arusha
Markets, Arusha 27/12/2005

z 051228 1 shy elephant Lake Manyara
Lake Manyara National Park 28/12/2005

z 051228 3 Puzzeled monkey, Lake Manyara
Puzzled monkey Lake Manyara 28/12/2005

z 051228 2 Hippo pool Lake Manyara
Hippo pool, Lake Manyara 28/12/2005

z 051228 1 Grazers Lake Manyara
Grazers, Lake Manyara, 28/12/2005

z 051228 3 The thin pink line Lake Manyara (2)
The far off thin pink line of flamingos, Lake Manyara 28/12/2005

z 051228 4 lunch by the jeep Lake Manyara
Lunch by the jeep, Lake Manyara 28/12/2005

z 051228 5 monkey crèche Lake Manyara
Monkey crèche, Lake Manyara 28/12/2005


Around the art emporiums, Arusha 31/12/2005


z 060103 Mawenzi from the balcony
View of Mawenzi (peak to the east of Kibo), Kilimanjaro from the balcony, 3/1/2006

z 060103 Kibo from the balcony
Kibo from the balcony, 3/1/2006

z 060103 Downtown Marangu
Downtown Marangu, 3/1/2006

z 060103 Market Day Marangu
Market Day, Marangu, 3/1/2006

Art References

 African Art

African, Mask, Etoumbi region, Congo
Mask, Etoumbi region, Congo

African, Mask, Pende, Zaire (1)
Mask, Pende, Zaire

African, Mask, Pende, Zaire (2)
Mask, Pende, Zaire

African, Fetish, Yombe, Zaire
Fetish, Yombe, Zaire

African, Ekpe Society Emblem, Ejaham, Cameroon
Ekpe Society Emblem, Ejaham, Cameroon

African, Dog Fetish, Vili, Congo
Dog Fetish, Vili, Congo

African, Mlbuya (sickness) mask, Pende, Zaire
Mlbuya (sickness) mask, Pende, Zaire

African, Nimba Mask, Baga, Guinea
Nimba Mask, Baga, Guinea


Picasso (Pablo) Les Demoiselles d_Avignon, 1907

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907

African influence, Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 1907 (detail) 2
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 (detail)

African influence, Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 1907 (detail)
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 (detail)

African influence, Picasso, Bust of a Woman (Marie-Therese Walter) 1931

Bust of a Woman, 1931

Picasso (Pablo) Bull's Head 1942

Tête de taureau (Bull’s Head), 1942

Picasso (Pablo) La chèvre (The goat) 1950

La chèvre (The goat) 1950

Other references

1 East Africa Handbook, Michael Hodd, 2002

2Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art, Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, MoMA, 1984

African Art, Frank Willett, 1971

The Picasso Museum of Barcelona, Rosa Maria Subirana Torrent, 1975

Picasso, Hans L.C. Jaffé, 1980

Picasso, National Gallery of Victoria, 28 July – 23 September 1984, Catalogue

Picasso The Last Decades, Art Gallery of NSW, 9 November 2002 – 16 February 2003, Catalogue

Picasso, Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, Art Gallery of NSW 12 November 2011 – 25 March 2012, Catalogue

A close-up look at what happens when tourists and Maasai communities meet, Vanessa Wijngaarden, The Conversation, 11 October 2017




Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory and Art of the Top End

While looking back through art and travel books, struck again by the incredible conceptual art of the Tiwi. Back in September 2007 managed a one week escape, based in Darwin. Main reason for travelling north was to visit Kakadu National Park, Bathurst Island (part of the Tiwi Islands) and Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) plus art galleries in Darwin.

Some of the lasting impressions.
Aboriginal languages spoken in most places. A day trip, thirty minute flight in six seater plane across the Beagle Gulf to Bathurst Island. Multiplicity of dogs, including two great danes, asleep in the ashes of an old camp fire, grey apparitions when they stood to greet us. Meeting some of the Tiwi artists at the Tiwi Design Centre and the Ngaruwanajirri Art Centre, seeing their art in situ, their materials, and the artists in action. Came away with a gift of some white and yellow ochre (still in use) but the red was too precious to be given away.

Day trip to Kakadu National Park. Left early 6:30 am for the drive down the Arnhem Highway through Humpty Doo, and Adelaide River. Walk to Nourlangie Rock, and the famous rock art. Later that day a boat trip along the Yellow Water Billabong, extravagant abundance of bird life including magpie geese, black-necked storks (Jabiru), white bellied sea eagles, royal spoonbills, pacific black ducks, wandering whistling ducks, green pygmy geese to name a few, accompanied by the ubiquitous crocodiles. One hour flight over Kakadu, East Alligator River, the escarpment, then over the awesome stone country of Arnhem Land, and back to Jabiru airport.

Day trip to Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge). Another early 6:30 start and long drive to Adelaide River War Cemetery and Edith Falls and waterhole. Magnificent still, cool waterhole, some jumped in for a swim, and then almost instantaneously leapt out when they saw the (albeit empty) croc traps. Was it possible they asked for crocs to surf over the waterfall. The guide nodded but said none had been caught that year, yet, could be a problem during and after the wet season. Two hour spectacular boat trip through the gorges, Jawoyn country, red rock canyons, white sand beaches.

Back in Darwin for a round of gallery visits. However, it’s difficult to be a flâneur in late September in the build up to the wet season in Darwin when it feels like humidity is off the hygrometer scale. The only strategy, walk ten minutes, twenty minutes in an air conditioned shop or gallery, repeat for the rest of the day, only expense tonic water, but go easy on the gin until after 5pm.

The visit to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin, reignited a memory of time and place via the sound booth simulation of Cyclone Tracy. The sound booth gave an inkling of what was experienced in Australia’s worst weather event, Christmas 1974. Shrieking howling wind, difficult to withstand the sound for ten minutes not hours, how anyone survived is a miracle, but survive they did including a cousin, his wife and their infant daughter. All they had left was part of the bathroom wall and a door wedged over the bath tub, which they sheltered under for hours, and a crystal bowl (a wedding gift) which landed in mud in the right place at the right time. Emerging from the cyclone simulation I felt more than a little shaken. Remembering that anxious Christmas night in 1974 with intermittent radio reports of a direct hit on Darwin. We were in the backyard at my aunt’s place in the country town where we grew up. As was his way, to distract the young ones, Dad transformed himself into Nelson Eddy and sang ‘Tramp, tramp, tramp along the highway’.

In addition to the warning on the door to the Cyclone Tracy sound booth, about nausea and fainting, there should have been further warning: ‘those who enter may exit with memories of Christmas past’.

Art references
Contemporary art of northern Australia includes works from and about: the Kimberley, Tiwi Islands, Arnhem Land, Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape York. See art references below and some comparisons.

Aboriginal art has a long history. Recent archaeological finds put human habitation at 65,000 years in the Madjedbebe rockshelter in Kakadu1. ‘The archaeologists found evidence of the mixing of ochre with reflective powders made from ground mica to make a vibrant paint’. In Arnhem Land the Aborigines left paintings chronicling 15,000 years of their history. In early 2017, ‘a group of Aboriginal rangers discovered hundreds of works of rock art while conducting dry season burn-offs in the remote West Arnhem region. The local people estimate there could be more than 30,000 pieces in one area alone’2

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Bathurst Island
Tiwi Design Centre
Kakadu National Park
Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge)

Sense of Place

P1000332 (2)
Across the Beagle Gulf to Bathurst Island, 21/9/2007

P1000315 (2)
Tiwi art gallery and studio, Bathurst Island, 21/9/2007

Croc habitat, one of the beaches, Bathurst Island, 21/9/2007

Part of Nourlangie Rock Art, Kakadu National Park, 22/9/2007

Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu National Park, 22/9/2007

East Alligator River, Kakadu National Park, 22/9/2007

P1000368 (2)
Dry season, Kakadu National Park, 22/9/2007

The Escarpment, Kakadu National Park, 22/9/2007

Stone Country, Arnhem Land, 22/9/2007

‘There’s something down there’, black-necked stork (Jabiru), Kakadu National Park, 22/9/2007

Some of the locals, royal spoonbill, wandering whistling ducks, pacific black ducks, Kakadu National Park, 22/9/2007

A sentinel, white bellied sea eagle, Kakadu National Park, 22/9/2007

Smiling croc, Kakadu National Park, 22/9/2007

P1000386 (2)
Nitmiluk National Park, 23/9/2007

Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) 23/9/2007

Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) 23/9/2007

Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) 23/9/2007

Art References – relativities and differentials

Tiwi, Tutini (Pukumani grave posts) 1958 AGNSW 20170802_171257
Laurie Nelson Mungatopi , Bob One Apuatimi , Jack Yarunga , Don Burakmadjua , Charlie Quiet Kwangdini , Tutini (Pukumani grave posts), 1958, Tiwi, North region, AGNSW

Mathaman Marika, Wagilag Sisters' Story, 1959, AGNSW 20170802_171340
Mathaman Marika, Wagilag Sisters’ Story, 1959, Arnhem Region, AGNSW

Yunupingu (Munggurrawuy), Lany'tjung - Banaidja Story, 1960
Munggurrawuy Yunupingu, Lany’tjung – Banaidja Story, 1960, Gumatj, Arnhem region, AGNSW

Bedford (Paddy) Untitled (Emu) 1999
Paddy Bedford, Untitled (Emu), 1999, Gija, Kimberley region, AGNSW

Stevens (Keith and Tjampawa) Piltati 2014 AGNSW
Keith and Tjampawa Stevens, Piltati, 2014, Pitjantjatjara, Southern Desert region, AGNSW

Marawili (Nonggirrnga) Lightning and Sea Spray 2014 AGNSW
Nonggirrnga Marawili, Lightning and Sea Spray, 2014, Madarrpa, Arnhem region, AGNSW

Gabori (Sally) Dibirdibi country, 2010 AGNSW
Sally Gabori, Dibirdibi country, 2010, Dulka Warngiid (Bentinck) Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, AGNSW

Gabori (Sally) Dibirdibi Country 2012 QAGSally Gabori, Dibirdibi Country, 2012, Dulka Warngiid (Bentinck) Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, QAGOMA

Tjupurrula (Bobby West) Tingari sites around Kiwirrkura 2015
Bobby West Tjupurrula, Tingari sites around Kiwirrkura, 2015, Pintupi, Western Desert region, AGNSW

Cummings (Elizabeth) After the wet Elcho Island 2004
Elizabeth Cummings, After the wet Elcho Island, 2004

Sciberras (Luke) Buffalo country, Katherine, NT, 2016
Luke Sciberras, Buffalo country, Katherine, NT, 2016

Other references

1 Buried tools and pigments tell a new history of humans in Australia for 65,000 years, The Conversation, 20 July 2017

 Indigenous rock shelter in Top End pushes Australia’s human history back to 65,000 years, ABC 20 July 2017

2 Aboriginal rangers discover rock art sites while conducting burn-offs in Arnhem Land, ABC 30 July 2017

Our Way Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Lockhart River, Sally Butler 2007


Shoalhaven River, NSW – Landscape Painting

Nothing captures the power of place quite like Arthur Boyd’s paintings of the Shoalhaven River. The paintings, made over a ten year period from 1972, are exceptional through the intensity of light, the deep defined shadows, and broad range (naturalistic, narrative, fantastic, biblical, mythological) 1. The first time I saw some of the works was an exhibition back in 1989, I knew then I had to go to the place that inspired them, which eventually happened with two field trips in 2009 and 2012. Recently re-reading the book Artist and the River1 brought back memories from those trips.

The two field trips in October 2009 and September 2012, and a day trip to Bundanon in June 2011, made the paintings even more compelling. In 2009 and 2012 stayed at the Old Mill in Braidwood for a week on each trip, with time for side trips to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, about a one hour drive away. Art immersion at its best. Our painting site, near Braidwood on the Shoalhaven River, a special landscape to return to as often as possible. The photographs taken on the trips captured some of Boyd’s Shoalhaven, in particular the cleft triangular rock formations where the rock reflections in the water make diamond shapes.

As well as sketching and painting along the river most mornings, the everyday activities away from the city routine seemed unremarkable at the time, and yet it is these experiences that evoke the memory of place. Some of the scenes.

Blazing down the Hume Highway hammered by hail and wind blasted. Morning crystal clear water and perfect reflections, springtime dappled afternoon forest sunlight, wood fire and smoke, downpours and rainbows, a night of howling wind and pelting rain. Chirping sparrow chicks in the eaves, early risers no sleeping in, sound of a crow then complete silence. Rushing around town in Braidwood (population 1,651) in freezing intermittent sleet flurries in search of hot pancetta for the slow cooked one dish wonder for dinner in front of the fire. Arriving at the nearby stream each day just as the local platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) disappeared, that outlier on the tree of life2, the elusive monotreme ‘no relation to fish or fowl, nor bird nor beast, nor horned owl, in fact he is the one and only’3. Standing up sketching on river rocks, one small slip, sketch book flung afar but fortunately no injuries. Driving down an isolated, bone rattling, long dirt ‘road’ to Monga National Park, thought out loud ‘not a good place to get a flat tyre or break down’, no mobile coverage. Then, to reinforce that thought, on a tight curve in the washboard road, a weathered, worse for wear, pre-war (WWII) bungalow with a lone, wary, old blue cattle dog (the breed usually described as ‘energetic and intelligent with an independent streak, prone to accidental injury’) on guard on the veranda, one ear pricked at the sound of the car. Nailed to a dead tree nearby a sign painted in large red letters ‘no public phone here’. The ‘road’ a scene of utter wombat (Vombatus ursinus) carnage. I counted at least twenty bodies in about one hour of driving, and began to wonder if they had been deliberately run down, either that or mown down by an inebriated maniac in a hurry at dusk to get home in time for dinner. The wagon came out of that day a little bit worse for wear which was confirmation of the travellers rule ‘never trust hand drawn maps found in local shops’.

From there, onward to ‘walk ten thousand miles read ten thousand books’ (Gu Yanwu, 17th century late Ming, early Ching dynasty).

Captains Flat
Majors Creek
Monga National Park

Sense of Place


Platypus territory, near Braidwood 14/10/2009


Diamond reflections, Shoalhaven River, Bombay Reserve 17/10/2009


Rock reflections, Shoalhaven River, Bombay Reserve 17/10/2009


Flying rocks, Shoalhaven River, Bombay Reserve 17/10/2009


Vision splendid near Braidwood 18/10/2009

P1010034 (2)

Riverbank and four rocks, the Shoalhaven at Bundanon 12/6/2011


The Shoalhaven at Bundanon 12/6/2011


Shoalhaven River, Bombay Reserve 27/8/2012


Monga National Park 31/8 2012


Araluen 1/9/2012


Shoalhaven River, Bombay Reserve 2/9/2012

Sketches in ink and acrylics

2009 Braidwood Pond 14 October 2009 20170827_140250 (2)

Platypus territory, Braidwood 14/10/2009

2009 Braidwood Pond 14 October 2009 P1020651

Platypus territory, Braidwood 14/10/2009

Riverbank Shoalhaven River at Bundanon 12/6/2011


2012 Braidwood 3 Sept 2012 P1010512

Shoalhaven River, Bombay Reserve 28/8/2012

Riverbank Shoalhaven River 3/9/2012

2012 Braidwood 3 Sept 2012 P1010544

Shoalhaven River, Bombay Reserve 3/9/2012


Art References

Boyd (Arthur) Reflecting Rocks 1975 AGNSW
Arthur Boyd, Reflecting Rocks 1975

Boyd (Arthur) Riverbank and Rock Cleft 1974-6 (2)
Arthur Boyd, Riverbank and Rock Cleft 1974-6

Boyd (Arthur) River, Sandbank, Figure and Red Hill 1975-6 (2)
Arthur Boyd, River, Sandbank, Figure and Red Hill 1974-6

Boyd (Arthur) Shoalhaven River 1976
Arthur Boyd Shoalhaven River, 1976

Boyd (Arthur) Rocks at Budgong Creek 1979
Arthur Boyd, Rocks at Budgong Creek, NSW 1979

Boyd (Arthur) Three Rocks Near Punt Road, Bindanon 1981 (2)
Arthur Boyd, Three Rocks Near Punt Road Bundanon, 1981

Boyd (Arthur) Bundanon Series 1982 (2)
Arthur Boyd, Bundanon Series 1982

Boyd (Arthur) River bank and four rocks 1993
Arthur Boyd, River bank and four rocks, 1993

Walker (John R), CH Crossing the Shoalhaven, 2001
John R Walker, CH Crossing the Shoalhaven, 2001

Walker (John R) View from Arthur_s spot and Calypso Creek, 2001-2
John R Walker, View from Arthur’s spot and Calypso Creek, 2001-2

Rees (Lloyd) The Timeless Land 1965 (3)
Lloyd Rees, The Timeless Land, 1965

Whiteley (Brett) The Meting Place 1981
Brett Whiteley, The Meeting Place, 1981

Frederick McCubbin, Last Impressions 1907-17, National Gallery of Australia, 15 October 2009
Abstract Expressionism, National Gallery of Australia, 25 August 2012
Arthur Boyd, Agony & Ecstasy, National Gallery of Australia, 26 September 2014
John R Walker, Here I give thanks, Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, 6 August 2015

 Other references
1The Artist & The River – Arthur Boyd and the Shoalhaven, Sandra McGrath, 1982
2The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science, Andrea Wulf, 2015

3A.B. ‘Banjo’ Patterson, Old Man Platypus (recall it being read out loud in primary school on wet Friday afternoons):

Far from the trouble and toil of town,
Where the reed beds sweep and shiver,
Look at a fragment of velvet brown –
Old Man Platypus drifting down,
Drifting along the river.

And he plays and dives in the river bends
In a style that is most elusive;
With few relations and fewer friends,
For Old Man Platypus descends
From a family most exclusive.

He shares his burrow beneath the bank
With his wife and his son and daughter
At the roots of the reeds and the grasses rank;
And the bubbles show where our hero sank
To its entrance under water.

Safe in their burrow below the falls
They live in a world of wonder,
Where no one visits and no one calls,
They sleep like little brown billiard balls
With their beaks tucked neatly under.

And he talks in a deep unfriendly growl
As he goes on his journey lonely;
For he’s no relation to fish nor fowl,
Nor to bird nor beast, nor to horned owl;
In fact, he’s the one and only!




Daintree National Park and the Art of Cape York, Queensland

Going back through material collected from a trip in 2010 to the tropical north for the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, continues to provide a wealth of information on the dynamic indigenous art scene. Getting out into the environment heighted the appreciation of the art from the region, with time for day trips to the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation where the rainforest meets the reef. The national park, founded in 1981, is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Site, achieved after a long environmental campaign in the 1980s.

Despite all the road sign warnings, there were no sightings of the elusive cassowary (aka emu in a party hat). Migaloo the white whale didn’t make an appearance either, the whale cruises up and down the east coast, winters in the tropics and summers in Antarctica.

Held annually, the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair includes works from across Queensland and the Torres Strait. Indigenous Australian art has a long lineage. A recent archaeological dig now puts occupation at over 65,000 years in northern Australia at the Madjedbebe camp site.1 Contemporary indigenous art emerged in the 1970s2. Today many works feature pointillism combined with aerial perspective, intense colours, particularly those from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia which dominate the current art scene3, reclaiming country through art. This year marks a ‘radical change’4 in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, for first time it includes a large number of paintings by the APY artists, and its about time.

In comparison with the central desert (sacred designs), Arnhem Land (bark paintings), and APY paintings, the works from Cape York feature lyrical abstraction, action painting, are gestural, atmospheric with mood and emotion, the ‘Sand beach’ people where art and culture reflect deep understanding of the environment and its seasonal moods.’5 A style dealing with what is important to the community today. Some of the artists from Cape York and works below.

From the Lockhart River area (850 kilometres north of Cairns) 5:
Samantha Hobson scenes of fire, flying over the reef, and the beach at night.
Rosella Namok rain series, psychological impact, mood, atmosphere, ‘metaphysical aspect (conceptual not visual aspects of a subject but understanding and knowledge of it)’, personal experience, understanding of place.
Fiona Omeenyo free flowing line, expressionist figurative compositions, ancestral figures and kin relationships, coastal imagery past and present, Quinkan rock art iconography.

Judy Watson from northwest Queensland. Themes of political invisibility, dislocation, cultural memory, politics of place. Pigment soaked canvasses, works intuitively through listening to oral histories, travelling into country, and research of official records.

Places and events
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Green Island
Port Douglas
Daintree National Park
Cape Tribulation
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Kuranda

Sense of Place


Port Douglas 22/8/2010


Daintree River 22/8/2010


Cape Tribulation 22/8/2010



Sand crab art, Cape Tribulation 22/8/2010


Sand crab art, Cape Tribulation 22/8/2010


Green Island 23/8/2010


Monarch of the tropics 24/8/2010

Art References

Hobson (Samantha) Bust im up 2000 NGV

Samantha Hobson, Bust ’im up, 2000

Hobson (Samantha) Flying Over the Reef 2001_141803

Samantha Hobson, Flying Over the Reef, 2001

Hobson (Samantha) Burn grass season night time coming, 2001 NGV

Samantha Hobson, Burn grass season: night time coming, 2001

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Samantha Hobson, Burn Grass Season, 2002

Hobson (Samantha) Bush Fire 2002_142220 (2)

Samantha Hobson, Bush Fire, 2002

Namok (Rosella) Blue Water 2002_142316 (2)

Rosella Namok Blue Water, 2002

Namok (Rosella) Kaapan & Kuyan 2002_141912 (2)

Rosella Namok, Kaapan & Kuyan, 2002

Namok (Rosella) Boggy Road to Chili Beach 2002_142003 (2)

Rosella Namok, Boggy Road to Chili Beach, 2002

Namok (Rosella) Clan Groups Not Sharing Rough Times 2004 (2)

Rosella Namok, Clan Groups Not Sharing Rough Times, 2004

Namok (Rosella) Soft Morning Rain 2004_142036 (2)

Rosella Namok, Soft Morning Rain, 2004

Namok (Rosella) Today Now..We'pia Change 2004_142350 (2)

Rosella Namok, Today Now..We’pia Change, 2004

Namok (Rosella) Before Time...Proper Strong 2005_142414 (2)

Rosella Namok, Before Time…Proper Strong, 2005

Omeenyo (Fiona) Family Day 2006_141941 (2)

Fiona Omeenyo, Family Day, 2006

Omeenyo (Fiona) Many Rivers to the Sea 2006_141646 (2)

Fiona Omeenyo, Many Rivers to the Sea, 2006

Watson (Judy) museum piece 1998 AGNSW

Judy Watson, museum piece, 1998

Watson (Judy) names of the natives 2010 NGA

Judy Watson, names of the natives, 2010

Watson (Judy) bunya 2011

Judy Watson, bunya, 2011

Other references

1 Buried tools and pigments tell a new history of humans in Australia for 65,000 years, The Conversation 20 July 2017

2 How the Men’s Painting Room at Papunya transformed Australian art, John Kean, The Conversation 30 June 2017

3 Why the remote APY Lands dominate the Australian art scene, ABC RN by Georgia Moodie for ABC Books and Arts

4A delightfully playful portrait, a historic moment for landscape painting, Joanna Mendelssohn, The Conversation 29 July 2017

5 Our Way Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Lockhart River, Sally Butler 2007






Royal National Park, Sydney – landscape painting

June 2017 The Royal National Park (established 1879), the second oldest national park in the world (after Yellowstone) is a superb location for painting in the field. In this case, a short two day escape and short blog for the field trips record. On the second day the clouds rolled in, so set up on a veranda. Splashed around all morning then, just before pack-up, a catastrophic gust of wind up-ended everything: easel, palette, ink, water, gouache, acrylics all swirling in the middle of a blue tarp. Back to the drawing board.

Fairweather: ‘Painting to me is something of a tightrope act; it is between representation and the other thing—whatever that is. It is difficult to keep one’s balance’.1

Royal National Park
Audley Weir

Sense of Place


Near Audley Weir 16/6/2017


The white tree 16/6/2017


The bridge 16/6/2017


Rock reflections I 16/6/2017


Rock reflections II 16/6/2017


View over Port Hacking 16/6/2017


View from a deck 16/6/17


The boat shed 17/6/2017

P1020871 (2)

Kookaburra on guard at 2 o’clock in the afternoon 17/6/2017

Sketches in ink, gouache, and acrylics

20170617 RNP view over Port Hacking P1020866

View over Port Hacking 17/6/2017

20170617 RNP view over Port Hacking P1020869 (2)

View over Port Hacking 17/6/2017

20170617 RNP The Boatshed P1020872 (2)

The boat shed 17/6/2017

20170617 RNP The Boatshed P1020873 (2)

The boat shed 17/6/2017

20170618 RNP The Boatshed P1020880 (2)

The boat shed 18/6/2017

Art References

Cezanne Le Pont de Maincy (2)
Cezanne Le Pont de Maincy, 1879–80

Fairweather (Ian) Bridge Huchow 1941 NGV
Ian Fairweather, Bridge Huchow, 1941

Fairweather (Ian) Valley and Hills Kulu, 1949 NGA
Ian Fairweather, Valley and Hills Kulu, 1949

Fairweather (Ian) The Pool 1959 AGNSW
Ian Fairweather The Pool, 1959

Boyd (Arthur) Reflecting Rocks 1975 AGNSW
Arthur Boyd, Reflecting Rocks 1975

Boyd (Arthur) Shoalhaven River 1976
Arthur Boyd Shoalhaven River, 1976

Boyd (Arthur) River bank and four rocks 1993
Arthur Boyd, River bank and four rocks, 1993

Other references
1Fairweather Late Works 1953-74, Queensland Art Gallery 2012
Fairweather, by Murray Bail, Queensland Art Gallery 1994
The Drawings of Ian Fairweather, by Tim Fisher, National Gallery of Australia 1997

The Artist & The River – Arthur Boyd and the Shoalhaven, Sandra McGrath, 1982

The Paintings of Paul Cézanne – online catalogue

Fowlers Gap, Far West NSW – Landscape Painting

May 2017. The joy of slow travel, in this case a train journey over 13 hours from Sydney to Broken Hill. Across several NSW regions: the Blue Mountains in early morning mist and fog, across the farming regions of the central tablelands, the central west slopes and plains, five hours across the vast, what seemed to be never-ending plains. Sunset somewhere between Eurabalong West (population 70) and Ivanhoe (population 200). Far horizons red gold landscape.

Intensive six days of painting and art practice discussions at Fowlers Gap, a remote research station in the arid zone of NSW in the Barrier Ranges which form the border between NSW and South Australia. Located 112 kilometres north of Broken Hill. A working sheep station with an abundance of kangaroos, emus, goats, and bird life, with several studios for visiting artists. For this time of year, sublime weather, warm to hot dry still days, clear clean air.

First impression flatness, vast infinity of space. Need to focus on scale and details while trying to walk the fine line between representation and abstraction without tripping over entirely into either. Some of the artists discussed and other art references, NSW western regions and Central Australia, below.

Maybe too much fresh air out there, but came away with a simple question. Why not aim high and try to pull together the entire history of landscape painting? Symbols, fact, fantasy, ideal, natural, light, order (reference Landscape into Art, Kenneth Clark 1949, history of western landscape painting), swill it all around for long enough in the hope, in future, to achieve the probably impossible one shot action painting with a sense of place.

Fowlers Gap
The Tanks
The X Box Studio
Ochre House Studio
The Lake

Sense of Place


Sunset on the plains from the train 22/5/2017


Remains of a sheep pen at sunset 23/5/2017


Far horizon from the X Box Studio, dusk 23/5/2017


Far horizon from the tanks, painting location 24/5/2017


X Box Studio, painting location 24/5/2017


Near the X Box Studio, painting location 24/5/2017


On the way to the Ochre House Studio, morning 25/5/2017

P1020727 (2)

The Ochre House Studio 25/5/2017


Near the Ochre House Studio, painting location 25/5/2017


Ochre House interior late afternoon 25/5/2017

P1020759 (2)

Snake attempting to eat over-sized lizard mid-afternoon 25/5/2017


20170526_094910 (2)

Early morning grazers near the cottage 26/5/2017


The Lake painting location 28/5/2017

Sketches in ink, gouache, and acrylics

20170524 Fowlers Gap near X Box studio P1020716

Near the X Box Studio, gouache 24/5/2017

20170526_100708_Moment (2)

From the X Box Studio, gouache 24/5/2017

20170529 Fowlers Gap Scroll P1020819

Section of ink scroll Ochre House 25/5/2017


Near Ochre house studio, gouache 25/5/2017

20170526 Fowlers Gap Work in progress P1020765

The outdoor studio, 26/5/2017

20170527 12 Fowlers Gap View from the cottage_122328

View from the cottage, acrylic, 26/5/2017

20170527 21 Fowlers Gap View from the cottage_122408

View from the cottage, acrylic, 26/5/2017

20170528 2 Fowlers Gap view from the Cottage _122432

View from the cottage, acrylic, 28/5/2017

20170527 Fowlers Gap The Exhibition _170139 (2)

The exhibition (the no smoking sign not mine) 27/5/2017

Art References

Broken Hill Regional Gallery 29/5/17
Henry James Johnstone, A Ford on the Acheron River (1881)
Lloyd Rees, Summer Morn Near Kiama (1945)
Lloyd Rees, The Pool (1946)
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Wildflower Dreaming 2
Sidney Nolan, Little Boy Lost (1983)
John Olsen, Clarendon Spring Make Sure the Sun Wipes its Feet (1984)

Other landscape references

Gyokudo (Uragami) Frozen Clouds and Whirling Snow early 19th century
Uragami Gyokudo, Frozen Clouds and Whirling Snow, early 19th Century, Kawabata Collection, Kanagawa Prefecture

Friedrich (Caspar David) Monk on the Seashore (1808-10) Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin
Caspar David Friedrich, Monk on the Seashore (1808-10), Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Hokusai (Katsushika) Tama River in Musashi Province 1830-32 MET
Katsushika Hokusai, Tama River in Musashi Province (Bushū Tamagawa), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei), ca. 1830–32, MET

van Gogh (Vincent) Fishing Boats at Sea
Vincent van Gogh, Fishing Boats at Sea, 1888, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Picasso (Pablo) Landscape with Two Figures) 1908, Musée Picasso, Paris
Pablo Picasso Landscape with Two Figures, 1908, Musée Picasso, Paris

Picasso (Pablo) Landscape 1972

Pablo Picasso Landscape, 1972, Musée Picasso, Paris
Exhibition: Picasso masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, AGNSW Nov 2011 – Mar 2012

Georges Rouault, Solitude, 1937

Guston (Philip) Painting 1954 MoMA
Philip Guston, Painting, 1954, MoMA

Morandi (Giorgio) Still Life 1957 AGNSW
Giorgio Morandi, Still life, 1957, AGNSW

Art references NSW western regions and Central Australia

Streeton (Aurther Fires On 1891 AGNSW
Arthur Streeton, Fires On (Lapstone Tunnel, Blue Mountains), 1891

Hans Heysen, The Hill of the Creeping Shadows, 1929

Rees (lloyd) Evening on the Bathurst Hills 1936
Lloyd Rees, Evening on the Bathurst Hills, 1936

Rees (Lloyd) Evening Landscape Orange 1943
Lloyd Rees, Evening Landscape, Orange, 1943

Drysdale (Russell) Road with Rocks (1949) AGNSW
Russell Drysdale, Road with Rocks, 1949

Nolan (Sidney) Salt Lakes, Wimmera, 1966
Sidney Nolan, Salt Lakes ,Wimmera. 1966

Nolan (Sidney) Desert Storm 1966 (1panel of 8)
Sidney Nolan, Desert Storm 1966 (1st panel of 8)

Williams (Fred) Lysterfield Landscape 1969 NGV
Fred Williams, Lysterfield Landscape, 1969

Boyd (Arthur) Rocky landscape with two figures, 1973, NGA
Arthur Boyd, Rocky landscape with two figures, 1973

Whiteley (Brett) 8 miles out of Cootamundra 8.28 pm 4.1.84 1984 (2)
Brett Whiteley 8 miles out of Cootamundra 8.28 pm 4.1.84, 1984

Ngal (Poly) Bush Plum Country 2002 NGA
Poly Ngal, Bush Plum Country, 2002

Cummings (Elizabeth) From the Two Tanks Fowlers Gap 2012
Elizabeth Cummings, From the Two Tanks Fowlers Gap, 2012




Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park, West MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory – Landscape Painting

May 2009, first field trip to Central Australia. The location of the camp in Palm Valley in the West MacDonnell Ranges was spectacular: the amphitheatre of massive eroded landforms, the gorges, palm trees, water bleached rocks, and deep red earth after a long dry period. Struggling with drawing and watercolour, after a couple of days in an attempt to loosen up a bit, picked up a piece of palm frond from the flood debris wrapped around a tree near my swag, rolled out some paper on the ground, poured out some ink, thought about traditional Chinese scroll painting, abstract expressionist action painting, gesture drawing, and got into a rhythm. An attempt at combining calligraphy and action painting. Within about ten minutes produced an ink scroll with landscape features from around Palm Valley (see below). A breakthrough at last. Still practicing this on most field trips over the past eight years. I take what’s left of that palm frond and use a roll of Chinese paper as my sketchbook.

There is usually a close encounter with wildlife on these field trips. Anyone who has stayed at a Central Australian national park camp site will have a dingo (Canis dingo) story. Fortunately dingoes will not approach anything taller than themselves. On the first night, savouring the fresh, clean, dry, cold, desert night air, an escape from frenetic city work life, stargazing, stretched out in a swag, deep sleep. Suddenly the sound of a loud siren. Thought I’d been in a car accident, bright light shining into my eyes, but when fully awake realised it was the full moon. Sat bolt upright to witness fellow painter’s swag levitate to the sound of another blood curdling howl. To put it politely, a shout rang out something like ‘what in the name of hell was that’. Moved the swags closer to camp. Now wide awake and wide-eyed in this incredible place. The four legged shadows melted into the darkness. Then the howling chorus started. There must have been some youngsters given the high pitched timbre of some of the howls, sometimes solo, sometimes with the full chorus, sounded like at least a ten strong choir. The following night made sure everything was packed away, didn’t want to lose a boot, and our dingo friends kept their distance. The melodious dingo choir became a nightly soothing, reassuring, routine.

Finke Gorge National Park
The Amphitheatre
Palm Valley
Arankaia Walk
Mpuiungkinya Track
Kalarranga Lookout
Desert Park, Alice Springs

Sense of place


Ghost gum stretch 10/5/2009


Cycad gorge 10/5/2009



Amphitheatre painting location 12/5/2009


Looking back to camp and the amphitheatre 13/5/2009


Water bleached rocks along the riverbed 14/5/2009


Palm Valley, Mpuiungkinya Track 14/5/2009


Sunset, 14/5/2009


Sketching location, track to Kalarranga lookout 15/5/2009


‘Where’s the food’, Desert Park 17/5/2009


The old crack open an emu’s egg with a rock trick, Desert Park 17/5/2009


‘No food here’ hotel car park, Alice Springs 17/5/2009


Sections of Palm Valley Scroll 12/5/2009

Art References
Huang Gongwang, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, 1350 Yuan dynasty
Essay by Hung Sheng.
‘Handscroll over 22 feet long. The format of the handscroll allows for multiple perspectives in the same painting, embracing the landscape’s breadth and depth along the river and mountains as a continuous journey progressing through time and space. A Chinese landscape is not a visual record of a particular day or a single view, but rather it captures the flow of traveling through changes in atmosphere and multiple perspectives. According to Huang’s own inscription on the handscroll, it took him three to four years to finish the painting. It was not consciously constructed, but executed in a spontaneous state. Huang added to the painting when the mood was right, using six sections of paper to create “The Master Wuyong Scroll.” Huang did not paint for the court or the art market, but painted for himself as form of leisure and self-expression.’

“The Remaining Mountain” section of the scroll, Zhejiang Provincial Museum in Hangzhou
51.4 centimetres (a little more than 20 inches)

Huang Gongwang, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains 1350 (1)

“The Master Wuyong Scroll,” section National Palace Museum in Taipei
636.9 centimetres (nearly 21 feet).

Huang Gongwang, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, 1350 (2)

Huang Gongwang, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, 1350 (3)

Huang Gongwang, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, 1350 (4)

Huang Gongwang, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, 1350 (5)

Huang Gongwang, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, 1350 (6)

Brushstrokes: Styles and Techniques of Chinese Painting from the Asian Art MuseumEducation Department Asian Art Museum – Chong Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture (1995)