Adding Gold to Our Rainbow

Archive for the category “accessibility”

Art, my connection to where I live, the dissonance between that and my cultural heritage.

Widdershins – an exhibition of Moorland Mythic Art I so, so want to go to this gorgeous exhibition in Devon. Artist involved include Alan Lee and Brian Froud. So much gorgeous art that makes me cry. Oh god I wish I could see it in person.

“Dartmoor’s landscape is steeped in magic and mystery and it is home to many artists whose work is inspired by mythic themes. Widdershins showcases the work of those who live on Dartmoor (or have local connections) Widdershins explores local legends, world myth, folklore and faery tales in diverse, surprising ways… and although it all starts ‘Once Upon a Time’, it is definitely not for children only.”

This is the sort of stuff I’d love to draw and sculpt and bring in to my work but I am so far removed from the landscape that is linked with British Folk Law.
I feel a real connection with the land out here but the myths and legends out here are either still set in European landscapes or they are Aboriginal law and to create with those is appropriation.

How do I work with Myth, Legend and the spirit of the land I live in without being disrespectful to the people that were here long before? How do I work with my cultural heritage when living and connecting with a land that is so vastly removed?


I can make up new stuff on my own, I know, but there is something about working with legends and myth that goes back thousands of years, that other people connect with and have connected with.

I sit here in this ghost town of a gold village and I spin yarn from wool straight off a sheep. I embroider artworks with needle and cloth. I light my fire and sit by it’s warmth. These things were done by women in this spot since the 1850s. These slow ways of being, of creating, of living are something that connects me to the history of this place but I want to create art based on the spirits of this place, on the mix of landscape and imagination that brings the place to life.


Water here is precious. Sun is plentiful and in summer it is dangerous. Summer is not the warm, pleasant, plentiful time of joy that it often is in England where I was born. Winter isn’t ice and snow and a baron land.
This village, at 850m above sea level and the other side of the Great Dividing Range from the coast is the closest I come to the weather and plant life I was born in to in Easbourne, Sussex, England.

We have milder summers and much colder winters than the coast. We have lots of European trees planted in the village. We actually get a proper Autumn here where all the leaves change.

Autum in Hill End

Within a short walking distance though it’s back to Gum trees and Wattle, which I love, but it is green all year round, or at least our version of green witch is really fairly grey. Summer is drought and heat and storms. It’s fire and floods and sun that burns everything brown and grey and brittle. It’s full of flies and mosquitoes, snakes and spiders. It’s certainly not a green and plentiful time.


We get a few days a year of 40c. Much less than we did on the coast but still awful. We get some winter nights at -6c. Much colder than the coast but we’ve only had one decent snow fall where it stuck. And even that was gone by morning.

snow in Hill End

We get less water and more floods. This land is a harsh and dangerous paradise. It’s hard work and red dust and wide open spaces. It’s coal and steel and gold. It’s sheep and cattle and kangaroos that well outnumber the people. It is beautiful and harsh and so very, very old but at the same time it’s brand new.

High Water in the Turon

Road to town

I want to make art to reflect that, to connect to this land that lives and breaths with me. To show others the savage beauty and the things you can’t always see. The things that were and the things that weren’t and the things that are.


I have been considering paintings that show European myths and legends in an Australian landscape and how out of place they look.
I want to go and sit out in the bush and take photos and draw the things I don’t see. I want to needle felt creatures that fit within our landscape but don’t exist and the ones that do.
In a less literal sense I want to spin wool dyed with the plants and ochres of where I live.

Now to find the time, space and money to make a start on this. Not sure I have enough of any of those to get much done any time soon though. I have only the space of my arm chair and the small amount of time when my health lets me think and do at the same time. Money is even more scarce at the moment.

Pottering around the village

We had a few things to do outside so I decided to take my camera with me. It was another glorious day for it. Not so great for me because bright sun just equals migraines. At least it wasn’t too hot. There was a lovely breeze.

Visitor's Centre
First up was a trip to the Visitor’s Centre to pay the rent.

At the Visitor’s Centre you can pick up maps and souvenirs and they have a museum and a tiny art gallery. The village was a massive gold town in the 1870’s (The Holtermann Nugget was found here) and there were pictures taken by Beaufoy Merlin during the gold rush. Signs around the village show the photos in the spots they were taken.

The visitor’s centre really isn’t terribly accessible if you have mobility issues. There is a sign on the front door telling you that there are ramps available inside and to ask at the front desk. To get to the front desk you would have to go down an uneven, rather steep path with a precarious couple of stairs in the middle and then another step up in the doorway. It’s not like you can ring ahead either because most people’s mobile phones wont work out here. Sometimes I think places only put up the signs for legal reasons.

I walk with a cane at times because of balance and pain issues and I need help getting safely down the stairs in the middle of the path.  

Next up is the Tip. We don’t have garbage pick up here so we have to take our bins to the village tip. It’s not far though the road is dirt and a bit dicey in the wet.
the edge of the cleared area for the tip

The Australian Magpies are a precocious bunch.


At the tip
I wasn’t sure if I liked this one better in colour

At the tip
Or black and white. What do you think?

Then to finish up today we went around to Hosie’s B&B. The owners are away on Honeymoon and while other friends are running the bed and breakfast part we are feeding all the birds and watering the garden. I’ll post some photos of Hosie’s soon.   

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