Thursday, January 31, 2013

Weekly drawing 74: Wes Stacey's home

Wes Stacey's home camped by the sea

Over the years growing up in Barragga Bay our family became close friends with Wes Stacey and his partner Narelle Perroux. During this time he showed me that an artist can create serious work and also have lots of fun just being yourself.

I was extremely lucky to have my childhood with someone like him around. Wes along with Harold Cazneaux is one of my favourite Australian photographers.   I remember the first time I saw his book "Timeless gardens" a photographic record of Australian environments which included coastal flora, desert flora and even underwater flora (coral reefs). I'd never considered that these were actual gardens to admire until he photographed them and highlighted this concept to me. It was quite a revelation and changed how I viewed the natural environment.

When I was 9 years old, I would walk the rocky coast to visit him and his partner. He was often full of energy and cooking something like pasta and loudly calling out to the commercial fishing boats. Saying things like "Allan catch a big fish mate! catch us a Bea-uty! And drop over for dinner, we don't mind we've got lots of pasta!!!"

I loved his place so much. It was hidden in the bush on the edge of the ocean with paths that blended into the environment. This clever camouflage was subtle but made his camp more secure and extremely hard to find unless you knew exactly were it was. Even the chimney was disguised as a termites nest. To me it was designed like the ultimate cubby house, but it was actually a home. So it was the best of both worlds.

Signing the land by Wes Stacey
'Remote shore'
A beautiful example of Wes capturing the south coast
coastline, which I'd often venture.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weekly drawing 73: Barragga Bay rock pools

This drawing is my celebration of a magical place and the amazing
times spent with Eileen Scollay, Dan Scollay (her grand daughter),
Amber (my big sister) and Bridget (Eileen's Labrador).

In the 1983-85, a family friend and neighbour Eileen Scollay would often babysit my big sister and me. One of our favourite places she took us were the rock pools hidden under the seacliffs at Barragga Bay beach. I remember the first time my sister described them to me. I couldn't believe there were so many pools in one place, It sounded like some fancy resort. And I loved it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekly drawing 72: Camping in St Ives bushland

Anthony and I camping at St Ives, 1989

When I was 14, Anthony and I spent many weekends camping in the bushland at St Ives . We would walk down from Acron Oval to the Cascades and then along Middle harbour creek to our favourite sandstone overhang, were we would camp overnight. 

I felt a great feeling of freedom in the bush. I was relived to get away from the bland suburb of St Ives and it's ever growing shopping centre. At times while camping I would imagine how the local Aborigines once lived in St Ives, fishing in the creek and sleeping in the same sandstone shelter which we used for our camp site.

Unfortunately we couldn't enjoy the same simple pleasures because the creeks were now very polluted from urban and industrial runoff. So we had to carry everything we needed into the bush and ration our food and water for the journey. To conserve water and save energy we cleverly hid water bottles at certain secret places along the track (behind trees under leaf mulch) 

To me pollution doesn't mean it's all over and everything is destroyed. It just makes me think we need to clean up our act, so one day we can have clean waterways again. Imagine one day going for a walk in Sydney bushland and confidently drinking or swimming in the water, it would be awesome.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weekly drawing 71: William Barak the ngurungaeta (leader) of the Wurundjeri

28th March 1881, William Barak, the Ngurungaeta leader of the Wurundjeri people,
lead 22 Coranderrk men on the long walk to 
Melbourne to try and save his community from the poor policy
choices of the Aboriginal Protection Board.
This week's drawing is based on the insightful documentary series 

Melbourne was originally Wurundjeri land, but within 30 years of white settlers arriving in the area 
the Wurundjeri people found they "…have no place to hunt kangaroo or maintain they way of life they have developed over so many years", 

Watching this documentary highlighted the implications of the government system at the time called a 'land grab'. This policy allowed free settlers to claim land for a home and farm. Ironically this is system was also used to effect by the Wurundjeri when they chose Coranderrk on the banks of the Yarra river in 1863. However their claim was only 1% of what they already owned. To me it's an extremely generous compromise and the most peaceful outcome given the fact that we'd pushed them off their own land.

"…It's a refuge and a place for them to work the land and show 
the white people they could make it a success." 

Coranderrk was an extremely successful community that quickly prospered. Unfortunately the government red tape tore holes in their thriving community. I feel very sorry about the way it all ended up. The Aboriginal people of Coranderrk really tried to work within our system and we let them down. It would have been amazing to see it still running today, it sounded like it was an wonderful place.

Oddly enough, the documentary made me think of John Macarthur, who around the same time claimed 5000 acres of prime pasture land (Camden Park) and got stinking rich. When his ancestors decided to reduced their land holdings, they sold it back to Australian people, and made even more money. History can be so cruel.

For more information watch episode 3: "Freedom of our Lifetime"

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Weekly drawing 70: Historical wooden bridge, Wallaga Lake

Wallaga Lake's historical wooden bridge was opened in 1894

The wind was so strong the pages in my sketch book were flapping everywere as
I drew this one. At times I thought of Claude Monet as he painted 
I admire Monet's commitment to extreme art locations. Can you imagine trying
to carry all the painting equipment over rocky the coastline of √Čtretat
to paint a picture before the tide came in. 

This weeks drawing is two pen sketches of the wooden bridge at Wallaga Lake on the south coast of NSW. It was great to be drawing on the waters edge out in the elements in one of my favourite places.