Tuesday 22 May 2018

Shoving the Elephant Overboard!

Its been a little while since my last post, but there are times when life just takes over...and recently there's been a need to live those moments as fully as possible. Be in it, and catch the precious, fleeting instant, rather than reflecting on it, or being online.

Catching the moment - A Graphic Flutterer

It can at times feel like I've become a touch disconnected from the actual experience by writing about it too often. And also, there are times when it is important to give permission to stop. Especially when the task becomes too great, or the list of to do becomes too long.

Sometimes, there's little time to reflect and write a comprehensive sentence, let alone compose a blog, and for that I hope you will forgive me.

I could actually write a whole blog on learning to slow down, and not to try to fill every moment with stuff, but suffice to say I gave a lesson by example instead! Taking time to appreciate the view...to watch the horizon, rather than describing it, is important.


This blog will try to deal a bit with my first Australian experience, but do note, this will not even scratch the surface. This continent pervades and overwhelms your senses with its grandeur and shear scale....nothing about the Australian continent is small, or for that matter, easy.

The Oz adventure was a tale of two halves, and this blog will attempt to reduce the size of the elephant, by dividing it up, and shoving some overboard.

The first saw me settled in Darwin from the end of October until mid December. It was during what the locals term 'The Build Up'. It has other names too. 'Mango Madness Season' being one of them.

I could soon tell why.

Mangoes did indeed appear in greater numbers in supermarkets, and my moods could swing on the toss of a coin from one moment to the next, if I ventured too far from the beloved and benevolent god called 'Air Conditioning'.

The atmospheric pressure build up at this time of the year did reinforce my belief that we are finely tuned to the weather. And there was no fighting against it. You just have to wait for the rain storms to come, with the massive lightning flashes that herald the static discharges; ultimately reducing the pressure.

At least for a short time.

Storm approaching

The subject matter for Australia automatically went to its nature at first, with the native plant and animal life - first and foremost, birds...and bird life there is aplenty.

Chestnut-breasted mannikins

But my art also took a couple of different directions at this point...acrylic, with a heavy dense graphic impact. It took on a more severe, bold, striking appearance. And this said Australia to me, a direct impact on my senses. It would see me change subject matter to cars as well, with the opportunity to complete my first Australian commission.

The Valiant

The atmosphere of the build-up, and the effect it was having on me, hopefully got channeled a bit too, giving a slight mad-cap approach to some video making...a fun way to blog, and to showcase my artwork in a different, creative way...

My friend Dave would also give me the chance to go on the water, from Darwin Harbour, and chat to people whilst on boat cruises and show my art style in more of a workshop, tutorial-like manner.

On board the Charles Darwin cruise ship

On the water with Darwin Harbour Cruises

Dave Norton is a tour boat guide, for Darwin Harbour Cruises, and so I had a great opportunity to learn all about the local area, and sample the fantastic food on board. I had a great time on this cruise. The staff are all incredibly welcoming, the food is delicious, and the onboard safety talk is becoming legendary! Sailing around Darwin Harbour provided a well needed relief from the top end's build-up as well. Humidity would often be lingering between 80 and 100%, with regular storms coming in from the sea. In fact there was one on the horizon, and as well as a  wonderful sunset, we were treated to very dramatic rainstorm, on the distant horizon thankfully!

The couple of months I had to explore Australia would enable me to encounter both ancient aboriginal artwork, as well as experiment with modern digital art for the first time myself...an extreme of art only Australia can offer. I was in awe of the integrity of the aboriginal art seen on the surfaces of rock...and amused by how the modern age signs to give information on the artwork are all but degraded and in need of renewal!

The trip has also helped me expand my graphic design and artistry skills, by helping to rescue a graffiti attacked wall, and renovate a number of mailboxes in Darwin, increasing my canvas size to include murals on the side of buildings was definitely a stretch of the portfolio.

It was a real challenge...only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, and the heat meant that working over the day became necessary, as I was usually sapped of strength until late morning. I am not an early riser at the best of times!

And now December loomed, and this meant leaving Dave and Australia. My business visa required me to leave the country after 3 months, and this gave me the opportunity to do business in New Zealand, before returning to Oz in March.

And perhaps this sense of leaving, and wandering, again became apparent in my artwork. That bittersweet tension resolved itself with the rendition of two Brolgas...created in the vibrant acrylic style I had begun to explore here.

Brolga remains

Brolga departs

This was part of the plan however, as I would now venture further afield, and test my art production whilst going to the markets!

I'll be writing a further blog on my art and craft market experiences in the future. Suffice to say that this phase came with many trials and tribulations, and took a lot to complete. Although I learned a huge amount in the process.

For now, I would return to Australia in a relatively positive, though certainly more drained, state of mind. Support at his point was crucial, and this was mostly given with emotional support from Dave, who is far more pragmatic than I am!

I would now need to prepare myself for the next big challenge. Adelaide to Darwin via the east coast of Australia. A trip that was going to see us on the road for nearly a month...and that was going to prove a real test of my capabilities, and character.

Stay tuned for the next part of this blog...

'Shoving the Elephant Overboard...the out-back half'


  1. Absolutely love your new work, David

  2. Thank you Elspeth! I do hope you are well. Last I heard you were off on an adventure yourself. I hope you are having fun and being inspired!