Thinking Australia

Australia Memories

This week is when I will make the final arrangements for my trip back to Australia in February 2016. It is on my mind and so are all the friends that I hope to see there. That country has been extremely rich for inspiration in my studio and at my writing desk since 1997. All through the house are artworks and mementos from down under. The above collection of works is near the foyer and within view of several Australian Aboriginal paintings.

The framed piece I made when a group of us went on a trip to Lake Mungo in 2008. I picked up the piece of cardboard from where we stopped to slide down a red hill on large hunks of the stuff. It became my canvas for recording an exceptional time with three friends I would later meet for repeat adventures. Funny how just one piece of scrap can hold the entire experience. The other pieces from top to bottom are a basket made by an Aboriginal student that I bought when taken to experience the Coorong area. Below a gift to remind me how much tea bags are used in the textile world of Australia and a fine embroidery work by an amazing stitcher from there.

This week I am preparing to take a two day class here in my studio on making a box/book with leather. There will be an inlay in the cover for something from Australia and the leather I am hoping to use will be the last of my kangaroo hide.

Below are some egg tempera paintings I made of small bits and pieces of Australia.  They hang side by side in my studio and like the things above have the ability to take me back there over and over. The backgrounds for each small painting is actually a view of the land below as a very good friend took me out into the outback on his small, very small airplane. That was probably the most wonderful experience ever of being in that country. Flying low and landing where the explorers Burke and Wills perished, then off to the opal mines of White Cliffs, the famous pub in Birdsville where the horse races are held and then into Broken Hill for an unexpected Poets in Pubs night. We never missed a pub stop along the way. Beautiful.


There is actually another group of four small egg temperas in this grouping. I just don’t seem to have an image with all of them together.

Every time I go there I make and take a sketchbook to work with. Below is one of my favorites from 2003.

Australia sketchbook ' class=

I think when I return from this next trip to Australia I am going to write down all the experiences I have had there. And then when I am very, very old my children can read it to me. I will turn the pages very slowly as I handle all those sketchbooks and listen to stories that I might not remember quite so well by then. I will also be sipping an Australian red if not a Tooheys Old.

The trip this time will start in Hobart, a little Melbourne, a lot of St. Andrews, a little Melbourne, Halls Gap in the Grampians and back home in time to catch the dogwood in bloom and start writing.