“Giant at Weenie Creek”
Figure in Landscape No 24 2006
There were giants in the land. What a sad truth. Weenie Creek campsite is home to a grove of giant Blue Gums, preserved in a popular camping site, bounded by the steep walls of rock and a creek.
The undergrowth is camped out and now European grass. It is not unlike the famous Blue gum Forest in the Grose Valley, Blackheath, which fortunately was closed to camping in the seventies to enable the undergrowth to recover. But here is one of the only spots were people can camp for free, with very little restrictions.
The giants in true spirit take the occasional blows from uncaring Tommy hawks wielded by less than Davids. A promised land under threat? The spies reported to Moses “But there are giants in the land.” The sad truth is that there are not many giants left. Log out, crowed out, why are we as humans afraid of giant trees? Is their long life a reminder of our few years? Must they be conquered and bought low with pen knives and chain saws?
“In the Gap”
Figure in Landscape No 23 2006
Oil painting on Linen 750 x 1050mm
This old man Banksia stands on the edge of a thousand foot drop. Having survived between two rocks, it's early life must have been perilous. Now big and strong it fills the gap and stands sentinel to the danger. Its trunk holds back the loose sandy soil and its roots are strong and deep: holding it fast against the elements.
Who will stand in the gap is a biblical cry for prayer. Ezekiel 22:30. Who will stand between humans and danger? Who will stand between humans and God's judgment? This is the function of a prayer warrior. This visual metaphor is both strong and personal. Often prayer warriors have themselves known many dangers and the challenges of life and death before they develop the urgent call to praying in the Gap.
Strong: This Banksia has almost lost its life with the main trunk now just a shell of bark. Its heart wood exposed, as the new growth bursts open the old bark, when the surviving branch took on the feeding role of the whole tree. Heart like and weeping the soul of the tree is revealed.
“Melaleuka: The healer”
Figure in Landscape No 21 2006
The Melaleuka or commonly named ti-tree is known as a traditional pharmacy. Invaluable as a natural medicine in traditional Aboriginal culture it's oil is used today for many healing purposes. I can’t recall anyone ever making the Melaleuka the subject of a painting. It is considered too ugly and insignificant yet such a worthy tree.
Tee trees are very common in the Australian bush. Normally small scrawny and covered in hard needle like small leaves they are very hardy. Having once spent six hours hiking merely one kilometer through a gully of Tee tree I know the pain a close encounter.
The painting falls in the 2005 series of figures which explore trees that persevere in difficult growing situations. In persevering they develop character and this brings survival and life, Hope.
Painted on Location at Gross Vale under one of the most stunning views in Australia “the way of a tree on a rock” celebrates the start of life. Painted close to a one to one scale we are forced to focus on and consider the ways of creation.
“There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:
The way of an eagle in the sky,
The way of a snake on a rock,
The way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a maiden with a man.”
Serpentine on its qualities this tree slithers toward the light. It reaches out hand like to receive the gift of life. Yet it has found its being some time back as a seed wedged in a crevice, a natural funnel for water and precious nutrients.
Over the many years of painting around Australia I have been fascinated by the small beginnings trees have in often tenuous situations. Australian Landscape has traditionally been about vistas often imposed on us by a European sense of space and design. The paintings “Uluru” and “Egeneto” from The ‘Figures in Landscape’ series germinated this new series – Egeneto is Greek for becoming, used in the Genesis One Septuagint text for let there Be and in John for The word became flesh. In ‘Metaphors of Being’ we celebrate creation intimately.
Mountain Lagoon Rd Woolami National Park.
This is a painting of a angophora costata known also as the Smooth Barked Apple. I have always loved the forms and the colours of this tree. What I didn’t realise until I began this series was that the colour is very seasonal. I had assumed that I only saw angophoras when I saw the blaze of orange or pinks. I remember them form hiking as a scout around Sydney; from visiting my sister in Georges Hall, from in and around the Gosford; and from the love of the Blue Mountains.
What I didn’t realise was that most times I saw and identified angophoras was in the summer months. So imagine my surprise when only four weeks into painting a few of these trees the colours started bleaching and changing dramatically. Each painting is painted exclusively on site and takes approximately ten weeks to complete. Traditional glazing techniques are used and this requires drying time between layers thus I work on six paintings at a time. Next time I paint Angophoras I shall have to start in Hot December.
This angophoras has root system is another testament to the sub theme of these painting.
“... suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:4
Oil on Linen 750x1050mm 2005
Love labour lost is a metaphore of the love of a parent and child that are too close. The Beech Myrtle sends up shoots to replace the main trunk when it falls but here in seeking the light of the valley the child shoot moves too close to the main trunk and does not seek it's own space. Then the leaf litter and mosses gather at the points of closeness and begin to rott away both trunks. When this tree falls both will fall together and there will be no tree to inherit the space in the canopy. This is an Oil painting painted on site in 1999. 800mmx1200mm
Heirs of the kingdom is about inheriting the canopy and thus the light. The beech Myrtle eventually rotts in the rainforest conditions and falls over but to avoid this being the death of the tree it shoots up saplings from the root stock which if favourable placed will inherit the light when the main trunck falls. Here the shoot on the righ t will inherit the kingdom. Also in the root areas you can count many generations of main trunks - thus these trees are very old and genetically the same stock. This is an Oil painting - painted on site in 1999. It is 800mm x 1200mm large.
This painting became the architype for the Figure in Landscape series (Now at N0.25)This is an aproximate location - it was worked from a drawing done on a house boat and worked into a painting. Painted in 1981 the work is 4 feet x 5 feet. The architype is a single tree trunk placed centrally with a rising backgound or a rock background. This changed to a Portrait format with Figure In Landscape No 2. They are so named because of the sculptural and human metaphores the tree trucks suggest. Follow my other images to unlock teh scope of this series.
This painting is called Egeneto - Beginnings or become. It is a small Beech Myrtle the is one of many new trees growing where a large tree has recently vocated the canopy (fell down) The tree grows with its roots in the air, you can pass your hand under the tree, to avoid it rotting away in the rainforest litter. It is an Oil Painting painted in 1999 on site. 800mmx1200mm