Carnarvon Gorge


Artist's Statement.

Works from the Carnarvon Gorge series (1989/90) suggest ‘looking at separate threads’ in the sense that visitors leave individual trails woven across the land.  In the paintings I concentrated on the notion of layers and invasion by many ‘lookers’ visiting the sites and looking at but not always 'seeing' the landscape.

At that time I was teaching at the College of the South West in Roma and on many weekends I would go to the Carnarvon Gorge and pitch my tent as a base to work from. One thing I became aware of was the way in which people would arrive in haste, unpack in a hurry, get a game going quickly for the children, rush a bite to eat and then collapse into camp chairs for a beer. Up early next morning the pace would again reve up like an eager engine as visitors took to the tracks along the Carnarvon Creek. Admittedly some of the wonderful sites (such as Hellhole, The Amphitheatre and Moss Gardens) were quite a hike from the camp site so getting there and back was a bit of a race against time.

And time was in short supply.

So people came and went like migrating birds or invading termites to grab a quick feast (an 'eyeful' as one visitor said) of whatever, and then depart.

Hence an idea formed in my mind of migrating herds and so I used monoprints of people upon the land and depicted brief suggestions of the landscape. In many images I marked a pencil section on the paper and contained the picture within though leaping the boundaries of the section thus suggesting the containment of the brief visit. In others I placed people on rocks like lizards basking in the sun for a brief moment away from pressure of work. The monoprinted figures gave an impression of ghosts and in twenty four hours all were gone.

Including me.

But I kept going back to Carnarvon and little by little I learnt of the wild Mt Moffatt region over the hills to the west. Meanwhile Carnarvon Gorge flourished into a tourist venue and the migrating herds became more frequent and from farther afield.

Thus I set my sights on Mt Moffatt and visited for the first time in 1995.  I still retain links with friends in the area. Have a look at my drawings and paintings,  Moonlighting in Moffatt, to get a feel for what was then a great wilderness where poddy-dodging and murder echoed through the gullies. Karen