Finke River, West MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory – Landscape Painting

Reminiscing on past expeditions, in this case a second field trip to the West MacDonnell Ranges. A completely different experience to the previous year which marked the end of a long dry period, the land was a deep red then, arid, scorched. The only signs of life, a couple of eagles feasting on roadkill and some dingoes. In the year between May 2009 and April 2010 rain had returned to the red centre. I came prepared with earth colours but the landscape had been transformed. Water in one of the worlds most ancient rivers, the Finke River, a cormorant (probably flew in from Darwin), frogs, moths, tiny fat finches (aka popcorn for crows), and green everywhere. Best part, Ormiston and Glenn Helen Gorges had plenty of water for swimming, the water reflections on the rocks mesmerising.

Fantastic helicopter flight from Glen Helen along the Finke River to Ormiston Gorge and back. One pilot, two passengers, it was cramped but once over the white knuckle take-off phase, the view was amazing, the colours, the waterholes, with ridgelines disappearing into infinity.

In hindsight, great experience to help focus on perspective: central desert Australian Indigenous art, aerial perspective and symbolic language, and multiple perspective found in traditional Chinese landscapes (see art references below).

Finke River 2 Mile bush camp
Ormiston Gorge
Glenn Helen

Sense of place

View from the camp 18/4/2010

Across the river painting location 19/4/2010

Mount Sonder dawn 20/4/2010

Dawn textures 20/4/2010

Gold nugget sunrise 20/4/2010

Ormiston Gorge painting location 20/4/2010

Wave Rock painting location 22/4/2010

Glen Helen Gorge painting location 22/4/2010

From the helicopter flight

Finke River and Mount Sonder 23/4/2010

Finke River camp location 23/4/2010

Infinite ridgelines 23/4/2010

Near Ormiston Gorge 23/4/2010

Drawings, ink and watercolour sketches

2010 Finke River 18 April 2010 P1020636

Riverbed Finke River 18/4/2010

2010 Finke River 18 April 2010 P1020637

Riverbank Finke River 18/4/2010

2010 Finke River 21 April 2010 P1020653

Riverbed Finke River 21/4/2010

2010 Finke River 21 April 2010 P1020655

Evening Finke River 21/4/2010

2010 Finke River 21 April 2010 P1020656

Rock face Finke River 21/4/2010

2010 Finke River 22 April 2010 P1020654

Wave Rock Finke River 22/4/2010

2010 Finke River 23 April 2010 P1020638 F (2)

Venus Rising Rock Finke River 23/4/ 2010


Sections of Finke River Scroll 22/4/2010




Art References

Namatjira (Albert) Mount Sonder, MacDonnell Ranges 1945-1953
Albert Namatjira, Mount Sonder, MacDonnell Ranges (between 1945 and 1953)

Aboriginal art – aerial perspective

Bedford (Paddy)
Paddy Bedford

Tjapaltjarri (Clifford Possum) Warlugulong 1977
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Warlugulong (1977)

Gaboi (Sally) Dibirdibi Country - Topway 2006
Sally Gabori Dibirdibi Country – Topway (2006)

Tjapaltjarri (Bill Whiskey) Rock holes near the Olgas 2007
Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri, Rock holes near the Olgas (2007)

Watson (Tommy) Waluntja 2010
Tommy Watson, Waluntja (2010)

Chinese landscapes – multiple perspective

Kuo Hsi Early Spring (1072)

Fan Kuan Travelers Among Mountains and Streams (early 11th century)
Fan K’uan, Travellers among Streams and Mountains (early 11th century)

Wang Meng Dwelling in the Ching-pien Mountains 1366 copy 3
Wang Meng Dwelling in the Ch’ing-pien Mountains (1366)

Ni Tsan The Jung-his Studio 1372
Ni Tsan, The Jung-his Studio (1372)

Tung Yuan Wintry Trees by a Lake (14th century)
Tung Yuan, Wintry Trees (14th Century)

Li Yin Loading Carts (early 18th century) Palace Museum Beijing
Li Yin. Loading Carts (early 18th century)