Palm Valley is one of the most fascinating and beautiful places in Central Australia, a remnant pocket of prehistory. I am captivated by the geology, flora and the variety of terrain, the Amphitheatre being so different from the Valley itself. I have been fortunate to camp at Palm Valley many times over the last 10 years with our small tour company, Larapinta Creative Camps. On these occasions I have stolen moments away from my ‘duties’ to record aspects of this environment, both in the Valley itself and around the Amphitheatre and Cycad Gorge. I have employed my favorite drawing medium: oil pastel and Ink, which enables me to work fast, which was necessary in the circumstances. My drawings are all done in situ (au plein air) and attempt to bring into focus the colour and texture of this spectacular environment and reflect how the different plant species thrive in their particular geological niche.
I exhibited this body of work at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden Gallery in June 2018. The gallery space has rammed earth walls, a beautiful desert colour. To make the most of the walls as a background and to give the work a more contemporary feel I mounted the pieces under unframed perspex, leaving a generous border around each work so that the rammed earth became incorporated in a way. This mounting system was well received, creating a unifying element and enabling me to keep the cost of work down, as it was significantly cheaper than conventional framing. In the centre of the space I installed a long table to display a very large graphite rock rubbing I created in Palm Valley. I covered this too with heavy duty clear plastic with a similar reflective quality as the perspex. This was very useful at the opening, as you can imagine.
Chris Day, Senior Director for National Parks and Wildlife NT, opened the exhibition. He recounted fascinating tales from his time at Palm Valley as a young Ranger, living there with his wife and family for several years, including the big flood in the late 80’s, when they were evacuated by helicopter and the Ranger Station was wrecked.
Most of the work in the exhibition sold, however a few are still available. Works sold are indicated as such in this online gallery.
The textural nature of oil pastel and ink, often referred to as ‘wax resist’ is best seen when the images are large, so click on any image to view them as a slide show.