“Towards Gundabooka” captures the vast space of the red plains of western NSW contrasting against the patterned grey floodplain soil of the Darling River. The eye is drawn to the meandering lines of the river, then your gaze moves around the artwork to where Gundabooka Mountain sits close to the horizon. I want the audience to feel the awe, wonder and surprise you experience when flying and observing the landscape from a different perspective.
Having considered and delighted in the aesthetic rugged beauty of the subject, I was moved by the spiritual connection to the landscape, which led me a step further to consider the aboriginal connection to the country. The subject covers land traditionally owned by the Ngemba (stone-country) and Kurnu-Barkindji (river) people. I spent time listening and discussing ideas for this painting with elders and friends from both tribes, two of whom were descendants of women hidden as children, and hence saved from a massacre in an attempt to eliminate their race.
In order to acknowledge country and pay respect to the traditional owners, I’ve included their totems subtly in the artwork. The Ngemba totem is a sand goanna so I’ve incorporated a goanna track in the landscape. The Kurnu-Barkindji totem is the wedge-tailed eagle and one is flying silently and protectively above his country. Many Australians are oblivious to our aboriginal heritage and could drive through or fly over this country without giving it a thought. However, like my subtle references, the history is there. I would love to be part of igniting people’s education about this. I believe we have an amazing, ancient, aboriginal heritage that should be celebrated.
The artwork was created using pastel in my signature style that is fresh and crisp, manipulating colours, line and tone to depict the extraordinary images of the Australian outback. Attention to detail adds particular interest as the audience considers all the elements of the landscape. I hope to have made a unique, caring and thoughtful interpretation of the subject.