I'm not a Greenie...
…or at least, I have never considered myself as one until I – along with a small group of artists- was invited to paint at a property about 150k southwest of Sarina in North Queensland. The scenery was extraordinary. Lush, vast, beautiful, and doomed. Doomed? I’ll tell you the reason shortly, but first, let me tell you a little of the trip itself.
I met up with Maree Angus and Karol Oakley just outside Sarina on the morning of Saturday 1st July, (I know Maree from my days at Julian Ashtons, and both she and Karol are successful pastel artists) and we travelled inland for a couple of hours or so to ‘Collaroy’, a cattle property of 120,000 acres or so. With just enough time to unpack the cars, we were off to ‘Seaside’, a beautiful lagoon, where an afternoons painting ensued. I was pleased enough with my efforts, producing a 9x5 painting in oil which seemed to capture the shadows and rising breeze of the late afternoon well enough. Over the course of the next week or so I managed to produce at least a couple of paintings and drawings a day, two of which I rubbed out (we all have our ‘off days’), and the rest of which are reproduced on my Gallery page. What they represent is the property ‘Collaroy’, and a number of other properties which surround it, nestled in a vast ring of ancient volcanos.
Doomed? Well, the whole vast area is going to be dammed and drowned under a huge shallow lake. The State Government is in the process of committing an act of environmental vandalism which it just might be possible to forgive if it were to benefit the country in any meaningful way, but it isn’t, far from it in fact. The water isn’t going to be used for agricultural purposes, it is going to be used by the coal mining industry to wash coal. First of all, the coal is extracted in what in itself is an incredibly destructive act. It is then sorted, washed, and sold, only to be dumped in vast reefs onto the seabed by its purchasers. The final outcome? A million or so acres of productive land which has been irredeemably poisoned and broken in a callous and greedy grab for short term profit and political gain. I know that in my understanding of what is taking place I might be accused of being naïve, but I am deeply ashamed of the actions of my elected representatives, and the hideous toxic legacy they are leaving for future generations.
My week at ‘Collaroy’ served to focus my thoughts. I love this country in all of its harsh and rugged beauty. I am proud of my efforts to record the look of the land. It is with great sorrow that I realised that my paintings are now going to serve only as a small reminder of the beauty that I have witnessed, and indeed, as its epitaph.