Saturday, October 13, 2012

Margot: House: Gallery

Drawings and Prints
at 127 High Street, Amersham, Bucks HP7 ODY
every Saturday 11 - 3
tel (44) 01494 725352

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Misbourne Valley

This is the valley I grew up in, walked, bicycled and played camps in as a child. When i came back to live here sixteen years ago I started taking photos of the seasons, the light and the abundance of wild animals.
I grew up before supermarkets when people ate a lot more from the land, you never saw deer or hares, they were the property of the landowners, foxes were hunted with dogs, only a few pheasants were kept to shoot. And if you didnt stick rigidly to the footpaths the gamekeepers would come out and shout at you.
Now you can see animals everywhere if you look hard enough, plants and animals seem to thrive if they're ignored by humans.
The reason I made this piece is because I was so offended that this beautiful place, that so many people enjoy, is potentially going to be cut in half long ways and blasted into some unecessary future by a train.
It will be a train that goes so fast you can't even see the countryside that you pass through. Or the old trees that have been felled or the animals trying to survive in isolated pockets.
This panel has been donated to The Wildlife Trusts and can be seen at College Lake Nature Reserve near Tring in Bucks.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Some of the ideas behind the work at Margot: House: Gallery

I wrote this in early 2011 just after I'd opened my gallery in Amersham in what had been the dining room for several hundred years. Times have changed since then, the gallery has changed but I've left this up as reminder to myself of how different my perspective on life is now.

Passing Time – in ancient beech trees, soaring clouds, rolling breakers, flowers at the height of their glory, very old vessels that were used daily long ago by people like us – people who saw the beech trees, the clouds, the breakers and the flowers and revelled in them, used and worshiped them.

Things that haven’t changed, even though there are another four billion people on the planet since I was born.
Things are about to change though – the coral atolls on the Barrier Reef could be underwater in my life time. The pleasure of flying over those drops of liquid turquoise in another dimension where it’s impossible to tell where the sky, the sea and the clouds start or end, will be gone.

The beech trees in the Misbourne valley that will be gone to make way for a train. With their twisty, willowy muscles showing thru the skin of their trunks and their delicate end branches reaching the ground, they are the most human of trees.

The con trails from the massive airports that write unreadable hieroglyphic warnings in the sky as they turn unsignposted corners.

These are the now/future.

The Camino de Santiago is the ancient pilgrimage route across the top of northern Spain. I’ve walked two thirds of it and it is truly a lesson – one foot in front of the other, living now, the kindness of strangers, baggage quickly discarded, the path as a symbol for the thread of life.  This is the last unsold painting from the series I painted after walking.

Old home arts, long gone - black lace making, vessel making, fabric making.

I can’t make black lace but I can paint it, the same for the old household vessels.

Black lace was made in Amersham for Victorian mourning, so I’ve used it to cover a lovely old soup pot that belonged to my great aunt, who also lived in Amersham.

It’s also a fishing net with sea shells that I’ve picked up from around the world and a worn carpet.

The eggs – the symbol of the life force, delicate and perfect, are set on a riddle of pattern and interconnection, barely seen. The wild Australian bush is a visual chaos of plants and trees, not tamed and ordered but layers and layers of colours, light and chance.

The small pots are painted on the lids of French wine boxes, some have the stamps on the back. The connection between wine and art is as old as the cave paintings I think.  They were inspired by old vessels that I saw in Central France.

The big jug is also from France, from the days when they had more gold cloth, red velvet, light and pleasure than anywhere else on the planet.

The small flowers are bred creatures – formal, perfect, glorious, a part of the history of Europe’s discovery, science and aesthetics.

The photos of flowers I’ve included because I had to show the amazing roses my mother grows in the garden.

These paintings while being about many parts of the world and many ideas they really come down to one thing - The Life Force in us all – I’m just expressing it in my own way, I hope you have enjoyed it.

Honey Barbara’s Wikipedia entry.

After Honey Barbara had got rid of Harry Joy - killed him, he’d died, whatever, she dusted the mud from her broad, flat feet and decided it was time to go and see if the life force was to be found in the cities of the world.

It was time to go and do what she wanted, with no old control freak telling her what she should be doing, with his over achieving “I want to be a rock star” agenda.

This life force was not to be found with couples or at dinner parties, so she went to Sydney to see the gay underworld for herself, that was a very wild life but not really what she was searching for.

She went to Brisbane for the end of an era, when the dinosaurs were finally shaken from their trees. She rejoiced at the big change,  but this was not the life either.

So she painted and painted and went to live in Spain for a while, but she still went back to Australia for exhibitions at Watters Gallery in Sydney, because the wild, wild bush was always at the back of her mind.

She wanted to go in between the cracks of society and find the gold sovereigns. She wanted to become a true dissenter, but she was never accepted into the club. She could never see a way of making any money out of her dreams, so she was always poor.

She had the little blond boy that she’d dreamed about for years and they grew up together into who they are now. After he’d educated himself in big, red brick, Victorian buildings he went off to find his place in the world.

Then she discovered the Top End of Australia and now goes for a few months at a time to live in a caravan in isolated towns on the edge of nowhere. She paints, writes, meets and talks to amazing people and finds somebody to take her out to see the most spectacular rock art galleries in the world.

She brings all the ideas and dreamscapes from remote Australia back to a small town in Buckinghamshire, and her wine merchant partner, Eddie Mosdell. She works on paintings of the vivid tropical north through the cold, grey English winter. It makes life bearable.

To be expanded later…

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bruce's funeral

Bruce had been a  Japanese chanting Buddhist for thirty five years before his death on July 9th 2010, this is not to say he was Japanese, but the branch of Buddhism is and they chant in Japanese. It’s called Soka Gakkai International.

We assembled in the bowl shaped Chapel in the woods at the Crematorium and Bruce’s  wicker casket covered in garden flowers was carried in by his son-in-law, his cousin and his two step sons. It was placed on the plinth in front of the curtains and a Gohonzon, the  scroll which is a depiction of life in the Buddha state, was moved to the other end of his casket.

The leader of the service knelt in front of the Altar and began the chant of the Lotus Sutra which about half the gathering knew and joined in. It was the most wonderful, soothing, rhythmic chanting, not unlike some of the more gentle chanting of the South Sea islands and New Zealand, which is where Bruce was born. It made me think of all those days that Bruce had chanted for other people, when they were sick, in trouble or just needing something positive in their lives. Somehow you always knew when Bruce had been directing his energies in your direction, it was very humbling and powerful.

After a year focusing on the progression of his illness and death my feeling at this moment was that a disembodied Bruce was lying peacefully waiting for the end of his physical being. It was like a long sigh of release and expectation for the journey ahead, a total acceptance before going into the fire. It was as though his whole life had been focused on this precise point before his body was consumed by the flames, and that he was very much there with us. I could feel his pride in his capable, open hearted daughter, Lily, as she stood so dignified in front of his casket and his friend and son in law, Paul, turned out in his wedding day kilt and I could feel his contentment that his two grandsons were strong and healthy.

His step son, Xavier, spoke of his gratitude to Bruce for putting him on the right path in life,  his cousin spoke of his memories of family holidays in New Zealand, the good times in the sun with wine and Gary, professional opera singer and long time friend of the family, stood up and sang a Venetian love song to him. With no accompaniment Gary’s strong male voice filled us all with joy, sadness, peace, feelings from another time and place, an ethereal piece and something I know Bruce enjoyed immensely.

The leader of the chant spoke of how even death is life, how Bruce’s next incarnation will take him closer to his Buddha nature and of how his chanting of the sutras in this life will stay with him into his next life. It was a very positive message for those left behind after the death of a Buddhist. I know it left me feeling no fear or anxiety for him, totally unlike all the other funerals I’ve been to.

It was an extraordinary funeral in that it connected us all to the life force in the midst of death.

We filed past his casket placing a flower and saying our last thoughts to him and walked out to join his family and friends talking in the sunshine.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Riders

When I started painting the horse series I’d been living in Sevilla for a couple of years and by then I was totally immersed in the medieval aspects of life not only in Sevilla but the other great cities of Andalucia, Cordoba and Granada.

It was still possible, twenty years ago, to see and dream about how the three great monotheistic religions came to flower in this region. It’s a place that looks like a moonscape, fertile only for olives, vines and figs in the summer, where you can find your car covered in red dust blown in by the Saharan Sirocco and the Pillars of Hercules are just down the road. Africa is right there with you.

You could hear Islam and the Muezzin calling when the Gitanos sang saetas, or love songs, to the resting Catholic Virgins during Holy Week. You could see something of the Cabbala as the priests poured and mumbled over vessels in the Catholic Mass. And the relics room in the Cathedral, still open twenty years ago, displayed the most bizarre and politically incorrect artefacts in Christendom - John the Baptist’s head in a bottle, thorns from the true crown of Jesus, nails and torture instruments.

Then there were the ornate, dark and crumbling palaces where lived desiccated aristocrats. The portly, oiled, moustachiod gentlemen going to their clubs for coffee and brandy in the mornings to talk about bulls and torreros. The cursed and stolen Indian gold decorating the churches. The gloom, the dirt, the grime. The humble people who lost the civil war. The beggar who knelt in a street like a furnace all day for alms. The smell of shit that sometimes seeped into the street from the poor drainage system. The hot sun combined with the adrenaline that comes from seeing the blood of a valiant bull dying on the golden sands of the Maestranza.

Then there were the torture chambers of the Inquistion found under an old food market, and you realised that for a few hundred years women had been standing on the bones of poor Jews, and people thought to be Jews, haggling over rotten fish.

I remember the Elders of the Gitanos who kidnapped a friend and I one lunchtime and sang love songs to us into the night, all of us fueled by ranks of fino bottles. All the while rapping the rhythm with their knuckles on the table and sometimes dancing like torreros in the Plaza de Toros. And there were other times when you’d wait most of the night for these famous old men to sing and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. But if there was nothing doing and they didn’t feel like it then walking thru the quiet, crooked streets disappointed. The nights always seemed to be so short.

Everywhere there were huge doors built for enormous black carriages with black curtains or men in armour on horseback to pass through, sometimes with huge hands hanging like Islam warnings, but really just door knockers.
There was a tiny window into a garden long past high up the wall of the bathroom in a friend’s ancient apartment. Down below the palm trees and plants were large and dark and sinister, the stonework was black, the walls were seeping water and mould, it was without life or sun, but it was very cool, quiet and privileged and totally fascinating.

Also at this time the first Gulf war was immanent and there were thousands of people  marching and singing in the streets. For Saddam Hussein and against the Americans. Typical lyrics were “oh Saddam, you’re a bastard, but you’re one of us”, firmly sticking to their Islamic past, 500 years before.

There were so many images and feelings from somewhere not belonging to this lifetime, it often felt that they were intruding from an older collective memory that had been layered over for centuries as our mutual demons were tamed.

Dovetailing into what I was seeing was reading CJ Jung,  and suddenly his view of  a part of  Alchemist ideas made sense of  this arcane science. What he wrote was that the less materialistic of the old Alchemists had been endeavouring to turn their base humanity into something more illustrious. They were just using the metaphor of base metal and gold as this is what greedy Kings understood, and that they were really pre-Freudians in a medieval sort of way.

Then there were the Gnostics who believe that there was a switch, sometime in the distant past, from the True God to Abraxas, who is really the Devil, and it is he whom everyone erroneously worships. This is the explanation for plagues, disasters, cruelty, wars, famines and all other things that didn’t happen in the Garden of Eden.

This appealed to my idea about underground, often heretical,  thought amongst humans that hadn’t necessarily been expressed in a visual way, except as demons, hell, torture and fire. Lessons in the way not to go.

All this I wanted to put into these paintings. The horses on the carousel I used as a metaphor for the great spinning round of the mysterious world.
The Scintillating Flames
The keeper of the flames that will engulf us all eventually in a great conflagration. Our fascination with fire and destruction seems to be driving humanity towards it’s end, it’s as though we wish to finish in a blaze of pain and passion even as we dread it.
The Red Dragon
The Dragon is the guardian of buried treasure, at dawn he stands waiting to be challenged for The Pearl. The Pearl has always been seen as our human wisdom, but in ancient times the Dragon was a separate force, roaming around the lands avoiding St George and causing trouble. Now it’s possible to see that we have to do battle with our unconscious, The Dragon, to attain understanding, The Pearl.
The Goat
The occult figure of The Goat encompasses both  good and evil. With the wings of an eagle, the body of an hermaphrodite and the caduceus of Hermes, he is the Herald of the Gods. He sits firmly on the chaos of the world.
The Alchemical Tree
The Tree of Life combines the mysteries of life and womanhood, secrets of creation denied to men. By understanding these mysteries the Alchemists sought to free the human spirit from it’s earthly fetters, and hence from women.
The Green Lion
The greatest dread of man is to look into himself and for the unconscious to become conscious. As the Lion eats the sun which travels to his belly, so the journey to his own inner world is illuminated.
The Guardian Angel
The Angel is cautious and weighs heavily, always in control of it’s human partner. Nobody can escape from the conscience on their backs.
The Blue Eagle
An image from middle eastern mythology, the bow and arrow represent fixation, the Blue Eagle is a king. He is pure and simple and fixated with doing good by violent means, no matter the consequences.
The Green Man
The Green Man led the Beltane Fire orgies on the night of April 30th , leading on to the maypole danced by young virgins the next day. Carrying the horn of plenty as a wish for the coming years harvest he symbolises sexual potency.
The Searcher
The Angels sing the searcher on his endless journey to find his destiny. Through green valleys and across dry plains this archetype, seen throughout human history, wanders restlessly and alone.
The Peacock
From the middle east comes The peacock, a fallen, devil angel now pardoned, who’s penance is to carry souls into the next world. There is no grace or charm in his work and his dreadful cry tells of another passing, but it is redemption of a sort and he does it proudly.
He who in the monotheistic world is worshipped as God is really a false God, more akin to the Devil. According to the Gnostics, at some ancient date Abraxas pushed the Good God out and now rules the roost, thus explaining wars, famines, evil, cruelty and sickness.
But really we worship more the side of us that is Abraxas as this is considered strong, realistic and human. We don’t worship goodness.
The Avatar 
This enigmatic Avatar passes as the sigh of a warrior angel. He travels with the wind and enters quietly always ready to do battle for the mind and the ideas of the future.

You can also view these images at

Yandina, Yandina

What’s the point of hippies?

At the time, between 30 and 40 years ago, and from the outside, I suppose it looked like a totally hedonistic rabble of people refusing to play the game. And there was that aspect to the hippy life. But there was also an incredible outpouring of creativity and a rethink about sustainable living taking place in a world that had 3 billion fewer people, where we couldn’t see where development was going to take us.

I think there have always been people like hippies, people who thought you achieved salvation/redemption through the rejection of society’s obsessions, and matter in general.

Or there were people who always felt like outsiders and just joined other people like themselves.

In general it was not a hard line political or religious movement, we were too odd a fit to agree on trying radical change. When we talked about taking better care of the planet, no more imperialist wars, not eating flesh, not mining Australia’s uranium for people to make bombs with and the life force it was about a different style of life on a personal, small group level.

Nobody talked about climate change then, and although we were aware of changing weather patterns and mutated vegetables, we put it down to French nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

We didn’t have electricity, running water or phones so I suppose we had a very low carbon footprint. It was the beginning of solar panels and several people had banks of tractor batteries storing their own sunlight to drive 12 vlt TV’s. And then there was the super modern technology of coiling a plastic garden hose full of water on the roof and letting the sun  heat up your shower water. I remember that we seemed to know that being on the power grid was to be avoided.

Climate plays a big part of being a successful hippy. It’s easy to sit and watch the vegies grow in the sub-tropics and still have plenty of time to paint what it feels like to live in such a unique place. To be a hippy in northern Europe really doesn’t appeal as there would be no time to do anything else except survive in miserable circumstances and wear lots of horrible old woollen jumpers.

There were several groups of people at the turn of the first millennium who preached that the world would end if humanity didn’t change it’s sinful ways. Hippies were far too individualistic to preach to anyone but the general ethos was the same. And this time it’s going to be true - the world is really going to end for humans, and a lot of animals, if we don’t repent and take better care of the spaceship, very, very quickly.

And if James Lovelock is correct and there is no way to reverse climate change, well the hippies had the answer to that too - just sit down under a tree and get stoned. Man.

I feel like I was trained for life in how to look after myself and a small group of others in worst case scenarios. It’s greatly empowering to know you can survive outside of the state system and it’s something we might all have to do before this century is over.

What do hippies do all day?

So what was it like to live in a hippy training camp in the late seventies?

To be accepted into the community which I lived in you had to show up at a meeting and be approved by the others. The meeting was under the trees and I’d flown up from Sydney(bad) and went dressed in high heels, jeans and make up(very bad) then generally pranced around the Queensland rainforest as though I was still in London. But as I’d already paid the money they couldn’t really object.

I’m afraid that I wasn’t a very good hippy on a day to day basis - I didn’t smoke dope and drank a lot of wine, I didn’t live on a diet of roasted vegetables and pawpaw, took the pill, travelled overseas, went to the doctor when I was sick and didn’t do Om’s (although I do now). But on the big picture it felt like home.

So on a normal day you might help somebody do a bit of stonework on their house, or they might help you put on a new roof or you might work on the hall. I wasn’t very good at any of these things, but I was willing, and learnt to saw straight, mix up concrete and put cyclone bolts into the roof.

Then there was slashing with a fearsome, rock chopping lawn mower so that you could see all the venomous reptiles approaching the house.

On other days I’d go and rake duck weed (water hyacinth, big pest) off the local lake to go on the vegetable garden. This was a bad idea as the snakes went under it in the midday sun and I trod on them later. But I learnt to grow everything we needed, pretty much.

Sometimes I went riding with my friend Barb, galloping round the square cane fields like a couple of mad women. I never did get the hang of Australian horses, even though we half planned a trip on horseback across the top of Australia, they seemed as wild as the bush.

If it was really hot we’d jump in the swimming hole in the creek at the bottom of the valley. I never actually saw the peeping toms from the town rustling the bushes while looking at a few naked people swimming, but I believe it was on the locals itinerary for a good way to spend the afternoons.

Half an hour away were lovely long, deserted beaches to go and loll about on and eat tacos from a little shop on Coolum beach. I cant face going back to look at what’s happened to all that raw, extravagant beauty and ‘50’s style accommodation of Kelvinators and lino.

We didn’t have electricity so mostly in the evenings we’d read by the light of a Tilly lamp that hissed so loudly it drowned out the cicadas. I read all of Balzac and Tolstoy by Tilly lamp in those years. From the perspective of a shack in the Queensland rainforest reading about Paris and Russia in the 19th century was like reading science fiction.
A big part of what I remember is the way things grew. You could see vivid green things curling round other vivid green things and racing towards the light. It was like an acid trip.

The mandarin trees were laden in winter and I used to take suitcases of those little bursts of sunshine to Sydney for friends. But I never told them that the trees were fertilized with the shit from our shit bucket. We didn’t have running water or a bathroom, so it had to go somewhere. I wonder if they’d be sick, even now, if they knew.
No talk of hippies would be true without mention of dope. By the time I got to Queensland I didn’t smoke the stuff, it made me very paranoid and anyway I’d taken enough drugs in Europe to last a lifetime. But a few people (and some children) diced with living in a police state and smoking weed).

It really wasn’t much of a business that long ago and it all seems rather na├»ve now. If you live in a climate where seeds just sprout into bushes with no attention necessary, it really doesn’t seem an unnatural thing to roll it up and smoke it. But somewhere along the line the gangs took over and spoilt everything. A bit like hedge fund managers today.

I don’t know if was because we were all young, if it was the place itself or just that time in the universe but the life force seemed to be packed into that valley - the edible, the dangerous, the genuine, the mumbo jumbo, the scary, the hypereal, the dream, the affinities and the loathings, the songs of birds and insects, the flowerings and the mangoes.

Everything seemed animated as it either grew or was eaten, even the houses.

And I learnt to paint how I felt there in that beautiful, unpretentious place in the forest.

These paintings were shown at Watters Gallery, Sydney in 1981.

Conceived in Yandina


But what about Queensland now? In August 2008 I caught the bus from Cairns to Cooktown via the coast route through the Daintree on mostly dirt roads. The last stop on public transport on the east coast. It was one of those small sunliner buses, with a trailer behind for the bags, and full of people, white people going to work in Cooktown, young backpackers and Aboriginal people going back to their community.

We whizzed along through amazing country, sugar cane, rainforest, past huge rivers until we got to a small vertical stretch of bitumen that the bus refused to climb. So we all walked up the hill and the bus came along later towed by a passing four wheel drive.

Welcome back to the Australia that I remember - friendly, helpful, where not everything works all the time.
I was going up there to have look see and because it’s the closest town to Jowalbinna camp where somebody would take me out to see the Quinkan paintings. I suppose that I thought it would be like Yandina in the seventies, not far from Cedar Bay, scene of the worst hippy hatred by the Qld police. I thought  that the kind of people that I used to know might just have moved up the coast ahead of the raging development and be somewhere around Cooktown.

Driving into Cooktown on an over cast winter afternoon past the few houses and wondering where the town was I begin to doubt what I’d done coming all the way from a small town in England to this isolation. Where was everybody?

There’s a postcard of Cooktown by night that’s completely black but hey I wasn’t going for the nightlife anyway - I never went in a pub the whole time I was there, I wanted to go out into that enormous landscape and eat the view of the Endevour river sliding down the plateau past the town.

The day I arrived a snake wrangler was called in to pick up a taipan that had wandered onto the main street in the middle of the day and the day I left, six weeks later, a man was eaten by a crocodile. This was a much more edgy place than Yandina, but in those six weeks I met great people, did a lot of work in the shed of the motel where I was staying, walked about thinking and scared myself badly a few times.

To get out to Jowalbinna camp I hired a four wheel drive from Joe Bliss the car man and set off. I lied and said I could change a tyre no problem and had driven all over the place in trucks, I think Joe probably knew I hadn’t done any of this but he gave me the car anyway.

So off I went with my only company the radio, fading after about half an hour into crackly silence. I drove to Laura a few hours away, which was only medium bad in driving terms. From Laura though it was a very small track through bull dust, creeks and very rough bush - as the car slid about and misbehaved in the bull dust I tried not to think of every eventuality and start screaming in panic.

When I got to the camp in the middle of nowhere it all seemed very normal and it was G’day Margot and stuff - they didn’t seem to understand this was not normal where I live now. There was an evening around a huge camp fire talking tall stories with people who live out there all the time and lying watching the truly majestic star show thinking of how easy it is to feel connected to the universe out there.

Tom took me out to see groups of rock paintings, scrabbling up hillsides for half a day. These paintings were very different to ones I’d seen in the Kimberleys and Kakadu, for me the most impressive work was a huge red woman painted with very delicate lines and her breasts sticking out sideways - it is a figure that is both The Great Goddess, Earth Mother and a beloved wife. The other paintings were increase works of wallaroos, flying foxes and emus. It was later suggested to me that these paintings had been tampered with and enhanced by white men, don’t know if that is true but I knew I’d never be taken to see the real paintings along Battle Camp Road, so  Jowalbinna was what I could see.

The bush up on the Laura plateau is very harsh and scary and it seems not just to me, as it’s the place where four aboriginal language groups meet and where the magical, warning, Quinkan figures are painted on rocks as keep out signs.

On the way back to Cooktown I stopped at the Laura pub for a beer and an encounter with a man who had a snake in a bag which he’d picked up outside the pub and assured me was poisonous. It seems you can tell, if you get close enough, by whether the thing has scales or not and this one did. I know it’s supposed to be good to confront the thing you’re most fearful of but at the time I could see no advantage to even looking at  a bag full of venomous reptile.

Back in Cooktown I went on Willie Gordon’s great tour of a chunk of his ancestral land, met his painter sister Helen, talked to the German and Japanese girls who were packing bananas and went up the Endevour River with Nikko. 

The trip up River in a tinny was another scary moment for me as the other people wanted to fish and tied up the boat to the mangroves to cast about. Within minutes of staring about me at the wonderful tropical wilderness there appeared to be an enormous crocodile very close to a boat that seemed to be shrinking by the second. I pointed the beast out to the guys thinking they’d want to move the boat, by now the croc had gone to the bottom, always a bad sign as they are known to then pop up under the boat, tip the people into the water and gobble them up. All OK in a Roald Dahl story, but not in My story. So they didn’t move the boat then and we didn’t get eaten.

Further up River was an idyllic pond to the side of the river, white swamp lilies, waterlilies, vines draped through the trees, silver fish swimming about, lovely warm light and some rather creepy dark shadows. All that tropical paradise stuff suddenly became very, very dark and sinister when I was told that a truly monster croc lived in there. This became another image burned into the retina and turned into a painting.

Driving down the bitumen road to Cairns to pick up Eddie was another image that became a painting. The bitumen was only a year old and there were no fences to keep wandering cattle and other more native beasts off the road, so there was lots of road kill and lots of Kites eating it. They’d put a huge scar through the landscape, and I stood  looking at the road winding through the orange, blue, purple and green hills, at a road going nowhere except the tip of Cape York and no point in going except to say that you've been.

Then there was flying in a light plane over the Reef and the atolls. Unbelievable, iridescent colours and shades of blue, from the plane it was impossible to tell what was up, where the horizon was, it looked like Heaven with little white fluffy clouds floating through it. And if they’re right about the water levels rising those little bits of sand and coral will be gone soon. Paradise Lost.

I didn’t find any people left from the alternative days in the seventies but I heard that they were around, out in the bush and not in town much. I understood why they stayed away from Cooktown when I was breathalysed at 9.30am driving into town, a well monitored town, but easy and friendly.

The final day I went to give the car back to Joe Bliss and asked him if he’d read Peter’s book of the same name. When I told him I was Honey Barbara he scratched his head, had a think and asked me to sign the car hire papers as her. So in a strange way fact, fiction, now and then all became one.

You can view all the images from the exhibition at: