Painting fills my life, though especially now thankfully as a foil to the drought that hangs over our farm, the stock, the environment and our daily chores. However, even when I lived on the coast, it was always the wide-open spaces that crept into my paintings.
I frequently return to playground scenes, with children interacting with each other. Perhaps these mini dramas never change as we grow up. Those same displays of human interactions; conflict, love, malice, sympathy, power-play, protection and so on, I find interesting in the faces of people of the plains; the bush; the outback; our iconic poets, stockmen and explorers.
In many of my works I’ve touched on the effect that my recent readings have had. That is, the history of the surveying and building of the Canning Stock Route and the longest fence in the world, the Western Australian Rabbit-Proof Fence, built during the early 1900s. These two epic tales have become obscured by time and the tyranny of distance. Much of the stories of the people who lived and worked in extreme hardship and loneliness, have been largely unread, much of it not even written! Some of their stories are of survival and heroism and could serve as inspiration if only their stories were part of our ‘dreaming’.
There’s no doubt that the stories of men like Canning and Ankatell (two of the early surveyors) who, often alone, first walked or rode those huge lonely distances, will inspire many future paintings for me.
Some of those stories can be found in F.H.Broomhall’s excellent book ‘The Longest Fence in the World’, by Hesperian Press (1991).