Updated: Jul 8
A Warm Welcome to 'Shifting Sands'
Here I explore the connection between fine art, creativity and inspiration. From the initial conception of an idea to the creation of the final image, giving my fine art a voice. To do this I've utilized one of my inspirational Prints from the Intertidal collection.
To start with I will give an Overview of the print.
Then I will reflect on my thoughts about the print from my collection in the description Unspoken words.
Next, I'll share with you the satisfaction of unearthing the burning passion behind my style of fine art via my past experience in a short Story or two.
Finally, ill Reflect on its Drift, and the sense of achievement of Giving a Voice to one's creative instincts. I look forward to sharing the fine art journey I am about to take you on.
OK Let's Go! We are heading into the diverse estuarine mangroves of NSW, then exploring the pristine coastal sands of the Northern Territory.
Mangrove Barron Sandscape - Overview
Below is a Mangrove Sandscape taken at Mooball Creek, Pottsville NSW Australia.
At first sight, this fine art print depicts a Barron desolate landscape highlighting the plight of many of our forests today. However, for me it's much deeper, it comes from a spiritual connection to the land and my unforgettable ecological and First Nations cultural experiences etched into my memory.
My Artistic Vision and Inspirational Thoughts
In the image above, I have interwoven a sandscape pattern from one landscape (mangroves) as a metaphor and portrayed it as a symbolic graphic in another (a Barron landscape), highlighting the interconnectedness of the ecosystems and nature as a whole. Explained here in my unspoken words.
Description - The Unspoken Words
The light shines from above unveiling the eye catching rustic amber yellows of the sand as the tide recedes and the pale grey chiffon tones filter to the surface leaving behind ripple lines from the mangrove sediment. Highlighting the fine crusty bubble crab patches sprinkled across the landscape, gathering the stark charcoal deposits along the furrows, leaching behind in long trails.
Like ocean waves under a gentle sea breeze, it washes them out to sea. Leaving individual deposits, nestled between the crevice's, each disturbing the perfect lines. Each creating its own erosion gully slant wise across the landscape, as it searches for its sculptural freedom. The charcoal chunks are reminiscent of the ashy organic sediments one finds scattered around Aboriginal shell middens in sheltered mangrove ecosystems along our coastlines today.
I'd love to hear your interpretation of my image. Everyone sees different patterns and has differing artistic impressions.
My Mangrove Inspiration Story
This image reminds me of the day I first ventured into a Mangrove Forest, with my research Professor to collect mangrove propagules (these are the flowers that turn into fruit with roots, which fall down into the mud and germinate and/or float back and forth on the tide) the propagules were to be used for an experiment looking at how two species of Mangroves responded to differing levels of CO2. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Growth-and-water-use-of-the-mangroves-Rhizophora-R.-Ball-Cochrane/fda5267274336544e1e140d9b655
As we pushed through the undergrowth through the resource rich woodland full of Lilly pillies, banksias and wattles, the morning dew brushed across our cheeks. The bush opened onto a wetland which lead us under the dense mangrove forest canopy, choking out the morning sunlight, restricting our visual range as we plodded forward into foreign terrain.
With every step, I could sense my heartbeat rising, my feet were disappearing deep into warm potholes of mud with cold centers. I would quickly try to pull each misstep out to find firmer ground. It’s like quicksand it sucks you in so completely and alarmingly, I could feel the peg roots poking back up into the sole of my foot.
My professor disappeared up ahead with her backpack bobbing up and down, along the estuary unconcerned as she had trudged through there many times. There are an assortment of oysters and barnacles that appeared surgically attached to the trunks of the trees, the clear puddles were full of life with crabs scuttling off in all directions behind sodden timber covered in a spray of yellow and olive-green sensing mangrove leaves, carpeting the soft sludge with an array of parachuting bird footprints under my feet.
Then up ahead there was a mound set against the roots of the mangroves in a slight clearing, ‘What is that’ I asked? 'It’s an Aboriginal shell midden' my professor replied, I had never seen one before. I was intrigued as to why it was hidden away here in the mangrove forest.
It was a layered mound of sun-bleached remnants of old cockle, oyster and a mosaic of pipi shells with fishbones and charcoal sediment, that were collected and eaten by Aboriginal people of years past. This is where they took their catch back, into a sheltered area off the beach to cook on the hot coals to prize open the shellfish to eat.
Many middens are thousands of years old.
Some are men and women sites, and some are burial sites. This is where I first learnt that our coastal areas area not just scenic destinations, but a source of food and medicine, including ceremonial areas, meeting places sacred sites and spiritual areas for our Local Aboriginal people of our country, our First Nations people.
If you decide to go venturing into a mangrove swamp and stumble upon a midden, please treat them with respect, and do not touch or remove any objects. Make sure the only thing you leave behind, are muddy footprints!
Maningrida - Coastal Country
Years later up at Maningrida, while working in an Aboriginal community in the Arnhem land region of the Northern Territory approximately 500 km east of Darwin, I had the privilege of documenting the work of the Maningrida Djelk Rangers. The Djelk Ranger Program: An Outsider’s Perspective | Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (anu.edu.au). The region is also well known for its art movement of contemporary artists.
On our day off at the mouth an estuary, surrounded by mangroves, me and some of the rangers went out to collect bait for freshwater turtle traps. We waded across the crystal-clear turquoise bay in a line a couple of meters apart with an old, mended bait net up to our thighs dragging the net to gather the bait, herding it towards the shore. Forcing the bait up onto the sandy beach for us to collect, there the bait flapped around in the waves as they gently lapped the shoreline. It was a race to beat the dogs from stealing the catch! The kids were great little helpers, everyone got involved.
Shellfish Harvesting Sea Tucker
As we came out of the water collecting bait, there was an ear chilling Scream! and a lot of finger pointing off the rocks where the ladies were collecting the shellfish. A saltwater crocodile could be seen approximately 5 meters long, a big one with a barramundi proudly displayed in his in his mouth, pushing through the water, leaving a bow wave behind as he disappeared into the distance.
What! I was just in that water collecting bait. ‘It's Ok Miss they don’t come up on the rocky shoreline you're Ok, they don’t like the oysters on the rocks.' Mm that was the last time I got in the water up there.
The ladies came back and filled a couple of Billie’s full of sea water and cooked the turban shells over the hot coals, (turbans looked like greenish orange tinge snail like shells that had white cats eye doors, operculum's that popped off when cooked) when they were ready to eat. A sheet of rusty old, corrugated iron was dragged down from the sand dunes and the Billy upturned and the feast began!
You had to find your own twig and winkle out the animal from inside the turban shell, at first sight I gaged, it looked like an alien from another planet! Gross, deep breath I opened my mouth and dropped one in. Honestly to this day I have never eaten sweeter seafood, it was the most tender seafood dish I have ever tasted. When we finished, the shells were discarded to a pile on the side, I witnessed firsthand being at one with your environment and respecting the land we live on.
Conservation of our Mangrove Forests
It is extremely important to protect our coastal shoreline for all the wonderful gifts it has to offer and share. Mangrove forests are one of our most little understood and under appreciated along our coastline, these forests protect our shorelines from wind, waves, and flooding events, provide breeding grounds for our fish stocks, known as blue carbon sinks. All that Carbon dioxide CO2 we are giving off, is contributing to climate change contains atmospheric carbon.
The Mangrove forests can sequest (convert) the gas through its roots and leaves and store the carbon underground. The mangroves convert carbon much faster than our mainland forests. Unfortunately, when these habitats are damaged the carbon leaks back into the atmosphere.
Conclusion: The Drift a Unique Voice
Writing this post, I have become self-aware, of how much my past has influenced the inspirational designs and direction of my fine art. My unspoken words in the description, combined with the story behind the journey are what gives each artwork its own unique voice, a constant source of creativity. These intricately inter woven experiences be they biological, cultural, or spiritual have now become conscious graphics resuspended into my artwork, enabling me to express myself via a fresh new media, Inspirational photographic fine art prints.
Also, the realization of how long it has taken me to call myself an Artist, 'Yeahy' I am here and loving it, immersing myself in the regional arts community. I have really enjoyed delving deeper, I hope it has also resonated with you along the way. I look forward to sharing more inspirational stories with you, in my coming posts.
If you have experienced a similar journey of self - discovery and would like to share your story or have any comments, please comment below.
Have you had a similar journey of self - discovery?
What is your story?
I'd love you to drift with me and share your stories and photos.