Australia Workshops

Monday May 21st 10am – 1pm  £15/£12 concession
Monday May 21st 7pm – 9pm £12/£10concession
Dotpainting workshop – hands-on, all abilities welcome, no experience needed.  Discover the symbols and signs used by many Australian Aboriginal artists and their meanings and make your own Dreaming painting.  Using ready-mixed paints or colours mixed from natural pigments.  All materials provided.

Wednesday May 23rd 10am – 1pm £15/£12 concession

Wednesday May 23rd 7pm – 9pm £12/£10 concession

Draw, paint, write! See examples of travel sketchbook journals and using paints, pencils, pens, photos, materials, glue and your imagination learn to make your own travel journal.  You might remember a favourite holiday or a journey you love to make, or a walk on Dartmoor.  Naomi will guide you in layout, drawing, writing about your experiences so that next time you travel you can keep your own sketchbook journal.
All abilities welcome, no experience necessary. All materials provided.
Friday May 25th 10am – 3pm £30.  Bring lunch
Bookbinding workshop with Jude Freeman – All abilities welcome, no experience necessary.  Jude will show you basic bookbinding methods and teach you techniques to make your own sketchbook in a day.  Jude’s sketchbooks have been tested in the harshest conditions – the ones she made for Naomi survived 3 months in the outback!
All materials provided

Booking is essential for all workshops – go to the contact page

BBC Radio Devon

I’ll be on BBC Radio Devon chatting to Judi on Thursday 17th May about the Art of Australia festival and the whole road trip last year – crocs, river crossings, local artists, and the red red soil of the Kimberley


May 18th – 27th 2012

Hope Hall, Hope Road, Exeter EX2 5HS

Art of Australia – an exhibition  of my new work from the research trip to the Kimberley last year and festival of talks, workshops, films and readings.

18th – opening 6pm- 8pm

19th exhibition open from 10am to 6pm

20th 10am – 6pm.

7.30pm Talk by Professor Sam Smiles, Emeritus Professor of Art History at Plymouth University and Tate Research Fellow

21st 10am – 6pm.

10am – 1pm Australian Aboriginal painting styles workshop led by Naomi Hart,

Dotpainting workshop – hands-on, all abilities welcome, no experience needed.  Discover the symbols and signs used by many Australian Aboriginal artists and their meanings and make your own Dreaming painting.  Using ready-mixed paints or colours mixed from natural pigments.  All materials provided.

£15/£12 concession

7pm – 9pm Australian Aboriginal painting workshop.  Dotpainting workshop – hands-on, all abilities welcome, no experience needed.  Discover the symbols and signs used by many Australian Aboriginal artists and their meanings and make your own Dreaming painting.  Using ready-mixed paints or colours mixed from natural pigments.  All materials provided.   £12/10

22nd 10am – 6pm.

23rd 10am – 6pm.

10am – 1pm Paint, draw, write! Sketchbook journal workshop led by Naomi Hart.  See examples of Naomi’s journals from travels around the world and learn to fill your own. A journey you have made,  a journey you love like a walk on Dartmoor, an imaginary journey to a country you’ve never visited.. materials, photos, paint, paper all provided to let your imagination travel freely.  £15/£12 conc materials included

7pm – 9pm Sketchbook journal workshop £12/10

24th 10am – 6pm.

7.30 pm Talk by Dr Jenny Pickerill, Reader in Environmental Geography at Leicester University: ‘Why should we care? Australian Indigenous environmental politics’

25th 10am – 6pm.

10am – 3pm Bookbinding workshop led by Jude Freeman.  Make your own sketchbook.  All abilities welcome, no experience necessary.  Jude will show you basic bookbinding methods and teach you techniques to make your own sketchbook in a day.  Jude’s sketchbooks have been tested in the harshest conditions – the ones she made for Naomi survived 3 months in the outback!   £30 materials included

26th 10am – 6pm.

7.30pm Film ‘Jila – Painted waters of the Great Sandy Desert’  followed by

Talk by Jane Pedersen  ‘Living waters – Australia through the eyes of the artists’

27th 10am – 6pm.

4pm  – 6pm Closing of exhibition.

Hope Hall

This Saturday is fully booked, but still a couple of places left for some of the other weeks… get in touch soon to book your place.  £15 for 3 hours and coffee and biscuits!

Pictures at the Picturehouse

I’ve got a couple of pictures in the Picturehouse Exeter Christmas Show… have a look for them if you are in for a film.

Derriford Hospital Plymouth

I’ve just got home from hanging a show on the 7th floor of Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.  In a way, I hope you don’t get to see it, as that might mean you are ill or visiting someone, but if you are there, it’s a pretty good retrospective of the last 8 years of my dot paintings.  I had some really positive comments while hanging it.  All thanks to Simon Ripley who has been working as artist in residence there and was a huge help in hanging and getting it all straight.  The paintings will be up until 24th November.

Drawing workshops

I’m running a few drawing workshops on Saturday 6th August, Wednesday 10th August and Saturday 13th August from 10am to 12noon at Hope Hall, Hope Road, Exeter, EX2 5HS.  It’s a beautiful wooden building on a quiet little side street – come and see!  Cost is £12, materials included, but bring your own if you would like.  Booking essential, 6 is the maximum size of the group.  Send me a message on the contact page on this website if you are interested.

Australia 6

Tired but happy…

We are both deep-down tired… we passed the 10,000km mark yesterday and camping every single day with all its loveliness and awkwardnesses ultimately wears you down. Jen is also battling possibly some local mosquito-borne disease or maybe just utter fatigue. Only the stunning landscapes, remarkable flora and fauna and fascinating people keep us going…

We had to leave the Kimberley (I believe someone has already written the song ‘I left my heart in Fitzroy Crossing’) with its art and colours and endless landscapes and strange animals. We headed down via Port Hedland, crossing the line which carried the world’s longest train in ?2007? – 7 miles long – carrying iron ore out of the heart of Australia to the world. The town is entirely about iron and salt and testosterone. There are apparently some 10,000 year old rock carvings in the middle of the iron ore plant which you can obtain a key to see, but several attempts to gain access to the key proved futile.

On into Karijini National Park – we camped 20 minutes’ walk from a spectacular gorge and waterfall and I spotted a red roo and various birds on my morning walks, but not the 5.5 metre olive python which had been removed from another gorge last year after biting off the hairband of a tourist who surprised it.

We are now on the home stretch. Having fallen in love with the coast on the way up, we returned to Coral Bay, and I tried yet again to swim with Manta rays. Twice thwarted, I finally managed to get on a tour, to be rewarded with a white-tipped reef shark just sitting on the bottom staring at me, a turtle who settled on some green antler coral, tips of his flippers just balanced on the bottom, as we observed each other for a full five minutes. Slowly he swam away, using the coral to push himself and steer, and I followed for a while until I saw the dark shape of a much larger shark in the distance, and suddenly realised I was several metres away from anyone else. Back in the boat to search for Mantas – and finally we spot several right in shallow water by the beach. The first group go in and are heads down in the water watching one when a rarer black manta nearly ploughs into them. Another manta right beside the boat and we are allowed in too. I slide into the water, following the pointing fingers and look down: there, beneath me, close enough to touch, a manta ray as big as a car, wings outstretched, rolling over and over as it feeds on the rich waters coming in from beyond the reef. All black on its back with a big grey diamond shape, pure white on its front, flying through the water as if oblivious to everything around it.

Another hard drive down to Kalbarri, through rain, past strange pink clouds in amongst the grey storm clouds at midday over the ominously dark green bush and the pink-orange floodplains which were dry as desert sand when we drove up. We stop at Overlander Roadhouse for lunch, sat inside Troopy to avoid the red mud and puddles and fearing the huge boats and trailers being parked, seemingly at random in the entrances and exits.

Back to Kalbarri, hot and airless on our way up, now cool and breezy, but the rain which stretched for most of our 600km drive had already passed, and we could put our tent and swag up in the dry. A lazy Sunday morning of journals and fried breakfast, then a slow drive a few miles down the coast just to see the cliffs. We had barely arrived when two humpback whales start breaching and blowing off the coast. Right in on the huge booming surf, a manta ray calmly navigates the great waves and then a pod of twenty dolphin swims slowly northwards.

Devon may feel rather tame after this.

We hope to arrive back in Perth in two days’ time, then Jen goes off to a conference and I spend a few days in the south before I have to give back Troopy. There are things I am looking forward to, like making a cup of tea, without having to unpack and construct a kitchen, but Troopy has been magnificent and I am really going to miss it.

This will probably be the last road report, for more info check the website in a few months’ time, and I’ll let you know about any exhibitions. I’ve got enough material to last me a lifetime.

Much love to you all,

Australia 5

Despite hiccups, which are just too tedious to go into in detail, ask if you want to know, we are seeing vast swathes of the Kimberley and falling in love with all of it.

We took a tour in to Purnululu (the Bungle Bungles) and the first creek crossing confirmed why we did… pretty sure we could have bogged the Troopy within a few metres of entering.  The tour group was small and they were all lovely people, Purnululu deserves its World Heritage status.  The rocks are stunning.  The orange is pinky orange, the black-grey is crisscrossed, greying (where blue-green algae live and protect the rock from rust), curving mounds waving in and out, up and down.  Shadows depict the curves and cast fresh curves on the neighbouring mound.  Sensuous, moving, wriggling across the flat red plains.  Old creek beds, layered rock, worn smooth.  Pebbles, white sand.  Piccaninny creek with its sand ripples carved into rock, potholes like whirlpools ground out and down; a hundred shades of white.  Long ripples echoed by the long shadows of the sinking winter sun.  The rock begins to glow like fire.  From the lookout you see the flat green plain with rippling muscles of rock bubbling up under the surface, molten metal settling into grey hardened steel as the sun sinks.

In Kununarra we got lucky again.  We had to stay in town, but thanks to a tip-off found Hidden Valley caravan park, and thanks to good luck and talking nicely to the staff found a corner of the campground where no-one else dared come, my swag 3 feet away from Mirima National Park, more beautiful rocks, boab trees and our friends the wallabies.  All the other campers seemed far, far away and we ate dinner under the stars every night.

Finally the Gibb River road is sort-of open… We made it as far as El Questro and Home Valley Station (where they filmed the rather schmaltzy ‘Australia’) with smaller creek crossings to prepare us for the mighty Pentecost River.  The official measurement was 450mm of water – well up Troopy’s tyres and pretty scary, but we got good advice and managed to tag onto a Tagalong (guided 4 wheel drive) so got through safe and sound.  Only afterwards we discovered they measure at the shallowest point….

Hot springs, palm groves in arid bush, frogs the size of my fingernail, crocodile infested rivers, then Parry Creek farm which is set around a lagoon and nature reserve.  One of the only places where Gouldian finches are still found – there are only 2000 left in the wild (I didn’t see one).  A walk in the morning took in pied heron, egret, kookaburra and 3 types of kingfisher, double barred finches and gerygones and a whole valley full of boab trees which kept Jen happy.

We are now back in Fitzroy, contemplating a trip into Windjana Gorge and slowly back to Broome to meet up with some of Jen’s interviewees who seem fast to be turning into friends.  I force her into every indigenous art centre we pass – schools, halls, purpose built studios and galleries full of dots, stripes, whirls of all colours of country.

Now it’s cloudy and last night it even rained a few spots (stop laughing David and Peggy) which relieves the 30+ heat, and to be quite honest the nights have been cold enough for 3season sleeping bags and pyjamas.  I don’t think I will ever understand this country..

much love, and bananas at $20 a kilo (they now count as treats).

Australia 4

Pink and grey galahs, red and green parrots, rainbow bee-eaters, red and yellow ochre, red dragonflies…

The trip has gradually turned from a simple, rather touristy, roadtrip into a cultural adventure.

Thanks mostly to Jen’s research, which meant she interviewed half of Broome in about 6 days, we are getting tips of where to go, people to see, invitations to dinner… this part of Australia has a far stronger indigenous identity.  We have stayed in indigenous run campsites on the Ardi (Dampier) peninsular and Jen’s search for a contact she wanted to interview turned into a drive around the corner (several miles, but it’s all relative) and a fascinating local man who has set up a whale research centre in the bush, right on a bay which is one of the world’s most important calving grounds for humpback whales.  He singlehandedly managed to dissuade the government from building a gas hub there, but they are trying again a few miles down the coast as that apparently won’t affect the whales…  He took us for a drive to ‘the creek’, which in my book is a small rocky stream.  This one was several miles along the largest, most beautiful white sand beach, where he stopped off to do some net-fishing, to a vast, pristine, silent estuary, stretching for tens of miles. He took us to see the mangrove forest, we agreed politely, both having seen mangroves, but not mangroves the size of two-storey houses.  He encouraged us to slide down the dune ‘you have to see it from the bottom, but don’t go into the mud’.  Nothing on earth would have persuaded me onto the mud – the forest seemed primeval: I am sure dragons and pterodactyls live in there still.  It was eerie, quiet, shafts of golden setting sun tried to penetrate a few feet into the gloom and there was a sweet, rotten smell of mud and the cries of distant birds.

We drove back along the beach with the sun setting purple and red and gold over the smoke-blue sea.  Fish leapt in shoals out of the water, oystercatchers and plovers raced our vehicle and then veered off across the silky water.

It turned out he needed some architects sketches of a building on the rocky outcrop above the beach – he could get some money for the building if he could convince investors the place would make a nice area to bring groups of children to teach them about marine science, so the next morning found us back there, him driving us around to viewpoints, me sketching sites and imaginary buildings for him.  I don’t pretend to be an architect, but they seemed to be good enough.  I hope the project goes through.  I was paid in recordings of whalesong from that very bay.

Now in Fitzroy Crossing, we enjoyed a superb indigenous tour of local Devonian Reef cave systems with ancient rock-paintings, snakes, spiders, tea and damper, dreaming stories about the blue-tongued lizard, explanations about bushtucker and the tree with permanently black bark like charcoal which was used both to protect skin from the sun and to blacken the skin of halfcaste children to prevent them being taken away from families.

In my limited understanding of aboriginal culture, I know that they do not usually like photos of themselves or pictures, so I am more than surprised when the guide allows me to include him in one of my sketches – I had just assumed I would draw the scene and leave him out.  I am even more suprised when he invites us back to his house and asks if I would draw his portrait for him.  I am pretty pleased with the result, since it was midday, 37degrees, and dogs were biting my legs as I sketched.

The north west also has very good local community galleries, full of paintings on the walls, on the floor, unstretched on tables and unfinished in corners, as the artists come to these centres to paint.

The Gibb River Road is slowly opening after the huge flooding this year.  The campsite we are on was underwater about one month ago and we are about 8 metres above the current water level.  The highway is narrow and rather like an english B-road, the unsurfaced roads demand constant concentration, judging holes, bumps, sand, ruts, animals – the driving is not only physically tiring, but requires continuous decision-making.

I’m well into my second sketchbook, struggling to get down an idea of everything we see.  We haven’t had to break into the lentils yet, though the local supermarket up here is staffed entirely by 20 year old chinese people who have only a basic grasp of english, you can buy cheese in kilo blocks and packs of meat to last a month – our fridge just isn’t quite big enough.

The Troopy is doing well, loving our gentle introduction to creek crossings (about 6cm so far) and putting up with the boring miles on the highway.

Much sunny, colourful love to you all, full of strange screeches of birds and buzzing and chirruping of insects.

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