Tarzan Swing Eungella National Park

Fungi for art

Fungi on a log by the side of the Finch-Hatton Gorge track

One day these beautiful shapes, subtle colours and textures will find their way into a painting.

Sun strikes in the Rainforest: Paluma Range National Park

By the side of the Andree Griffin Rainforest Walk at Paluma township, the sunlight caught this elegantly twisted buttress of a massive, strangler fig carcass bought to life by its velvet green coat of moss.

The tropical rainforest of the Paluma Range feels lusher, and more encompassing than the subtropical littoral rainforest remnants close to my home on the Sunshine Coast. An hour and a half drive inland from the arid seaboard city of Townsville, this verdant forest must be haven for locals.

From the photo it is difficult to gauge the size of the buttresses. Look closely at the next photo for the tiny red way marker on a sapling behind the fig. To the right, barely discernible are Colin’s black hat and his shoulders.

Oz Slow Travel

Slowing right down. A carcass along the Gulf Developmental Road which is also called the Savannah Way, a far more evocative name no doubt conceived for the benefit of tourists on the way to Mt Surprise and the Undara Lava Tubes.

In Queensland, Australia we are fortunate to be in a COVID-19 free bubble. Within the state we can travel freely, taking COVIDSafe measures such as recording our visits to public places, and being more thorough in our infection prevention measures. So, Queenslanders are, like me, taking to the open roads. 

Queensland is a vast state, Australia’s second largest state, two and a half times the size of Texas with a population of 5.11 million people, 3.6 of whom live in Brisbane or the south eastern corner. Sometimes it’s a long way between ‘places of interest’ when you leave the coast. These places are not the bucket list, big ticket items like the Grand Canyon or the Tower of London or the ‘big five’ on African Safari. 

There is natural beauty, but not of the grand kind; there is ‘white man’s’ history which is by definition short; and there is extraordinary wildlife, but not of the variety that turns the tourists into surrogate game hunters aiming their cameras for the best shot of the beast. 

Rather there are small friendly towns, often with evident civic pride and a willingness to share their history with passers by. Such places lend themselves to slowing down after a long drive, having a yarn and a beer with a fellow traveler or a local – whoever is at the bar or more likely on the veranda – at the local pub. 

Aussie bush is a bit scrubby and untidy for sure, monotonous even. But when you really start to look, it’s wondrous. Sleepy little towns are easy to pass through without a pause. Each one has a story if you take time to discover it. All that’s needed is willingness to slow down, notice and appreciate the little things, and to start to feel a connection to the amazing land that others knew so well before any Europeans realised it existed.

Up cycling

I love gathering bits and pieces to make small creative compositions. The act of gathering and arranging various objects is like a reverie that reminds me of people, places and moments.

A nature loving women who bought an artwork at my recent exhibition, gifted me this delicate little nest, found on the the ground in her beautiful tree-filled native garden.

The enterprising little nest maker had gathered polyester fibre, from who knows where, to fashion her nest. I decided to give it a new home in wood, as I imagined that the nest once belonged in a tree or twiggy shrub.

This little collection is a homage to up cycling and recycling. I made the small mosaic ball from an old plastic ball found on the beach, and the oblong wooden bowl was made by a Zimbabwean artisan from an old Rhodesian railway sleeper. Of course the nest in the centre is the the most innovative piece of up cycling.

Gathering and placing objects is a special way of remembering.

Pop up Exhibition

Think Outside the Fridge Pop Up Exhibition, The Butter Factory Arts Centre, Aug 8-10, 2020

I made the space at the Kaya Sulc Studio feel like home. Mum gave me the piece of fabric draped across the chair many years ago. It’s a sarong she bought back from a holiday. Having my paintings all around and a flowering indoor plant reminded me of mum. I grew up with indoor plants, a native garden and art on every wall.

My mother’s scales

Somehow these scales found their way to me. They pre-date Australia’s move to the decimal system of measurement in 1966. Perhaps Mum kept them to use when she followed Grandma’s time-honoured recipes, measured in pounds and ounces, handwritten in an old yellowing exercise book. Now I am using the scales, which have their own innate beauty, as well as functionality, as an art piece. They carry symbolic spheres, lovingly made using old silk ties. Each one represents a sphere of mum’s life

Waterscapes

Mother’s day memorial

My mother has no gravestone. Gravestones, like funerals are for the living. Or for the dying, a re-assurance that somehow, once gone, we will be remembered by a physical marker, something solid and tangible. I really don’t know what mum would have thought about a memorial. When death calls, we forget to ask. I am sure though that she wanted to be remembered. That seems fundamental to being human, a consequence of loving and being loved, and our capacity to feel loss so profoundly.

She is remembered, not just by me and the immediate family, but by so many others whose lives she touched, in small, kind ways. I have come to understand how important small things are. Thank you mum.

Remembering: perhaps this is the best memorial of all.

Tell the one you love