This is a story about a little girl who loved nature and grew up to be an artist.
Nature is an essential component in my art and in my life. From early bug catching adventures in the backyard, to huge adventure walks in the bush with my brother, nature is part of my earliest memories. As the daughter of a farmer, I remember sitting in the mallee scrub at the edge of a paddock, next to a cubby made of sticks, with a fire as a baby sitter. We watched and waited for Dad who was working in the paddock on the tractor.
When I was a little older we visited some local waterfalls. To me this was a magical place, only half an hour’s drive from home but a world away from the flat, dry suburban monotony of our country town. I vividly remember being about 11 and having a quiet moment alone while my Dad and brother had wandered off exploring. I sat next to a trickling stream on the side of the hill where the water seeped out of the rock and eventually made its way to the larger creek that turned into a waterfall. A monarch butterfly drifted down next to me. Time was suspended as I watched in wonder. A sense of serenity and magic came over me and now 35 years later it is still vivid in my memory.
That experience shaped me, and from then on I engineered a life where I could be close to nature. When I left university I worked as a conservation volunteer at a nearby open range zoo, and in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. I worked for conservation organisations using my graphic design and illustration skills to support their work. As a teacher I am always looking for ways to bring the children in contact with nature, through nature walks, outdoor playgroup, drawing en plein air or making sculptures inspired by the work of land artists like Andy Goldsworthy.
My husband and I have purposefully chosen to live among the trees in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. We grow some of our own food and our children are able to work along tree lined streets and through bushland to school. I have even made a choice to forgo working inside for much of the year, choosing instead to work in a makeshift, but very functional studio on our deck outside. Instead of steaming through windows, the light is filtered through trees and my background noise is birdsong.
I believe in the healing power of both art and nature. For me making art about nature is the most powerful healing there is.