by Moyra Le Blanc Smith
Australia is one of the driest continents on earth.
In the centre of Australia, rainfall is unpredictable and sporadic, there are months and sometimes years when no rain falls and yet, in this ancient land, there is abundant life, life which has adapted over the millennia to the harsh conditions.
Here, in Australia’s heart, there is great beauty. The rivers that flow in torrents after rain have carved out deep, dramatic gorges. The relentless wind has eroded the rocks into gibber stones and eventually to sand which forms into massive red dunes. When the dry season comes, as it always must, the rivers become strings of deep, permanent pools or they dry out completely exposing their stony, sandy riverbeds to the sun and wind, awaiting the next rain.
The pools and dry creek beds are the life blood of the desert. Massive, ancient River Gums and Paperbark trees cling to life on the banks of the dry, stony creeks and pools. The trees provide shelter, shade and nesting hollows for animals and birds.
To spend time sitting quietly in one of these special places listening, looking, feeling, and absorbing the magical, spiritual essence of all that has gone before. To wonder about events that have taken place here. To watch the play of the warm sunshine on the wrinkled bark or weathered rocks whilst listening to bird calls, and feeling the soft breeze and warm sunshine on my skin, is to be immensely privileged.
With paintbrush in hand and tubes of vivid coloured paint squeezed onto my palette, I make a feeble attempt to capture nature’s wonder on a canvas or board. A longing to somehow be able to capture a little of the awe inspiring scene and keep it forever as a memory of that special moment in time.
It’s no wonder that Australia’s Aborigines keep these places sacred in their legends and dreamtime stories. The places chosen for their ceremonies ensuring they will forever remain as they are, natural and just as they were created.
I have great fear that irreparable damage will be done to these fragile, special places in man’s quest to conquer, control, cultivate, build and mine every last piece of our precious land.
My hope, is that, in some small way, my paintings may bring an awareness of the fragility of our precious natural environment. Perhaps they will engender a need to treasure it for the little ones growing up in this world so that, they too, may experience the wonder of our very special country – Australia.