Nature’s Riot was an exhibition that really drew on my experience of growing up in the bush with memories of the emu at Clif’s and the riot of cockatoos and galahs in the trees and sky. Familiar places in the bush and countryside such as the black dam at Dunmoochin, which many Australian artists have depicted, inspired the iconic works Waterline and Above as Below, and Rosellas, Ghost Gum and On a Hill from memories of the woodland around Mulberry Hill. Witnessing the effects of the drought in Central Victoria and travelling to Lake Mungo informed the subject matter and patinas of In the Basin and On the Earth I & II.
Nature’s Riot was opened by Bernard Slattery from the Friends of the Box Ironbark Forests Inc. with a poetry reading from the forest set out like the night by John Anderson, whom I had heard on the radio in the wax room as I worked on the Emu. The excerpt of lines below seemed to speak to the pieces I’d made so well and articulated the connection to the bush and it’s inhabitants that I enjoyed so much as a child and later as an artist. Also, at the artist’s talk, I was honoured to find John Wolsley present, who’s beautiful, detailed artworks and thoughtful writings on the Australian landscape I have always greatly admired.
From John Anderson, the forest set out like the night, Black Pepper, 1995, pgs 50-51.
…the eye of the emu, the eye of the goanna, eye of the stone curlew, the tawny frogmouth, the eye of the snake
…in the tassels of emu and she-oak, lyrebird plumes and fern fronds, forms of parrot and gumleaf
…each pattern of lizard and snake, each banksia leaf cutout, each scribble on the tree trunk a subtle dictation, an inner and overpainting of the whole mind, the whole country…
I find my spirit in the woodlands
I am trying to make you see what I mean
I am trying to make myself visible
I am trying to make the woodlands visible
the undiscovered forest
I believe that if you would see me you would see me in the woodlands
That you would see the woodlands and yourselves in the woodlands
When we see the butterfly, the tortoise, the wombat’s burrow we are looking at ourselves
….The lizard sees itself in the tree and the tree sees itself in the stars, the stars see themselves in us
…One place in the world sees itself in another…