It’s been about ten years living here at Seelands, about 30 kms upstream SW Grafton. This exhibition ‘On the River’s edge we meet‘ is a celebration and acknowledgement of my deep heartfelt connection to the Rivers and streams where I live. It is about my love of the magnificence of Rivers and Trees that are inextricably linked as the Riparian zone, a meeting place between land and water. A place for flourishing habitat.
The challenges and joys of being beside such a powerful surging and yet often graceful force are literally and experientially imbued into these processes drawings. My processes are a to-and-fro between the River and Trees and my studio. They are literally bathed in the River’s energy and are a playful experimentation and a felt connection within the making, to this River that I love.
I believe that the large Tree Portrait of the Black Bean Tree, reflects the joy and playful moments and the challenges of being beside this River. This work is being exhibited at Grafton Regional Gallery Opening 22nd April and the show runs till 18th June.
This is the story below, about my meeting of the Black Bean Tree.
The many gifts of service from the Black Bean Tree (Castanospermum australe)
Paddling upstream to where the water slows naturally by the bend in the river, my eye was drawn to a Black Bean Tree (Castanospermum australe). It was the exposed roots that drew me closer, thick and knotted, and curled to form such unusual shapes. They plunged deep down to the River and extended far outwards, gripping and stabilising the sunken riverbank.
In the kayak, I am at the same level as these impressive roots, and I was in awe.
My gaze travelled up these roots to the swollen and aged trunk above with its crusty and rough textured bark. I sensed time as slow and expansive across generations. This was an old-growth Tree, what First Nations peoples call a Grandmother Tree.
My eyes drank in the knobbly protrusions of broken limbs that were rounded and smoothed by big flood events. The powerful force of the Clarence in flood gave cause for the Tree to adapt and sustain to its riparian environment. I saw the crown more battered and sparce and less flush than I previously remembered, but with the hint of bright green growth and new beginnings.
My eyes shifted back to the River, as I was distracted by the zippy Blue Skimmer dragonfly who hovers curiously, staring at me from a safe distance. Moments later a flash of brilliant azure passes by, with the sound of beating wings too quickly for me to register its name of Kingfisher. The honeyeaters are not so shy.
As I am cooled by the shade and the light breeze from the River, I am thankful for the many gifts of this much maligned Tree.
You can see this Tree and other Trees as 2.5-3.5m Tree drawings on paper as well as painting directly onto the gallery walls at Grafton Regional Gallery from 22nd April- 18th June. This exhibition is about my deep connections with, and experiences of the riparian landscapes of the rivers and streams where I live, near Grafton, northern NSW and have my studio at Seelands, right beside the Clarence River. It’s been a bit over ten years that I’ve lived here, and every window in my home and studio looks towards the River, and every day it delights me. As I walk down the steep slope to the River and submerge my once-pristine art paper into the ebb and flow of this dominating, living presence, I feel a sense of collaboration with the River. Each offering is distinctive.
In my art practice I explore these landscapes through drawing, mixed media and installation and I have developed a personal sense of kinship with particular trees. Each visit mostly by kayak, enables a deeper learning of the subject. In the field I make ‘tree portraits’ that are literally imbued with the waters and sediments of the River.
Grafton Regional Gallery
The opening is on the 22nd April 3-5pm at Grafton Regional Gallery and all are welcome. There are three other shows opening at this time too.
I am giving an artist talk about the work and in front of the work at the Gallery as well.
Time | 11am Sunday 7th May
Venue | Grafton Regional Gallery Courtyard Gallery
Cost | Entry by donation
GRG requests that you book for this free event for catering on Artist Talk