Cactus Flower

Once a year around November/December we witness the sudden appearance of our very own Cactus Flower. It slowly emerges from the flat leaf of an unassuming cactus then springs forth almost overnight with a splash of style that makes me at least feel somewhat insignificant.

It’s superior-to-man show of brilliance lasts only about a week per flower depending on the weather. As one flower withers another rises, all brilliant, until the last one departs not to be repeated until next year.

I attack with my camera from every angle I can think of to record these moments in the garden calendar, trying to make sure to send it around to prove its existence and celebrate my wife’s hard work, because she is the gardener here. I’m a mere male – I just mow the lawn and wonder – I know that if I touch the garden it could be a bad omen for the things that live in it!

One day I sat down in front of our cactus Flower to take another round of shots and a bee floated in, and stayed awhile bathing itself in pollen and displaying superior hovering skills.

The very next day I noticed a blue/white/brown iris and thought I would take a photo the next morning. But it only lasted a single day! When the next one comes out I’ll be ready… 


No Property In A View

The headline is garbage of course. Spewed forth by a NSW Land & Environment case I was party to some decades ago. The ponce who claimed to be “his honour” came to the place in question with an Akubra on his scone (that’s ‘head’, noggin, dome etc for non-Aussies) strolled down our then pretty little narrow lane waving his arms about with a big smile on his face, had lunch with the developer and went back to his north shore water-view for dinner, and to stow that Akubra away in mothballs.

The next day in court he proclaimed “but there is no property in a view”, as if to conclude the fact that so long as the view wasn’t from his own back yard, removing said view from others will not be an obstacle to a developer doing the removing (among many other things).

The public have a long-held view that there is very little honour left in today’s legal systems. Trees went first, then a few short months later the view for everyone in the lane was dutifully removed by the developer, at the behest of “the ponce”.

The view in question here is dictated by the trees in my drawing and the foliage that once surrounded them as they stand between the road and the beach. Someone lit a fire most likely to improve the view from their home on the other side of the street (“AHA!” I hear you say). The tree on the left is hanging in there, just. The tree on the right is barely alive and all the vegetation behind the trees back a few metres to the roadside is dead and decaying. Only a few metres of live vegetation exists in front of them down onto the narrow beach dunes that front the high-tide mark.

To make my drawing I had to rely on photos I had taken of these beautiful little trees months and years earlier.

We use the trees as a marker to walk to along the beach, and often sit to discuss the world (and sometimes the justice system) every other day. The frame was made from a very well worn piece of driftwood found after storms on the same beach.

We, like the trees, live a fragile existence in full view of a doubtful justice system. Like veins and arteries, trees course through our lives daily, we shouldn’t ignore their presence – while there are some still here.

Postscript: The tree on the right in the drawing was, after about two years, the one that finally collapsed into the undergrowth. It never recovered from that deliberate fire and now our marker is simply “one tree”.

Pen and ink on 250gsm watercolour paper.


Wired while fishing

Art practise is a weird psychological thriller swimming around in your head at least most of the time.

I was going to paint a fish on a piece of wood. This happened…

Fish 1. Well, I have 2 more but they’re not ready yet…

I had better thoughts but they were lost in the void between when I made the decision to create my fish and when I actually got around to it. Still, he’s an engaging little fellow even if he can’t swim, wiggle, blink at me or flap about.

The end result was also dependent on all the bits of wood and the process of assemblage and finish and sanding and about me generally being a pedantic nut-case about it all. Compared to what I thought might come about given my original intentions this result is a watershed of ideation – like being thrown out of the asylum for not being insane enough.

I’m psychologically exhausted – and I have more of these sitting around in progress!

Update: Swordfish – not wired but a final version that began like this:

…and ended up like this:


hmmm…. doesn’t swim very well though.