With our authorial and bushwalking colleague Peter Hatherly, Windy Cliff Press has produced a new book that fills a huge gap in publications on the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains: exploring landscapes shaped by the underlying rocks, uplift and erosion is a guide to the amazing landscapes of the Blue Mountains and the ongoing story of their formation. Peter, a geophysicist, has closely studied the uplifts that have helped form the mountains, and published ‘groundbreaking’ work that resolves some past uncertainties.
Across 204 pages and with numerous photos, maps and diagrams, we explain just about everything that happens ‘beneath the scenery’. A major part of the book is a ‘guided tour’ of the regions of the mountains, elucidating what you see from the lookouts, walking tracks and beyond. The book is a must for any walker, tourist, resident or visitor who wants to know more about this magnificent region.
You can buy the book here from about the end of May, or from all good bookshops in the Blue Mountains and some shops in Sydney.
As part of recovery from the Black Summer bushfires in the Blue Mountains, the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute secured a grant for an Eco-arts project that would combine citizen science with artistic responses to the dramatic changes in our local bushland. Recovery: the exhibition is an online show with a wonderful diversity of contributions from many local artists.
My own offering is in two photographic collections. In Blue Gum: Cradle of Conservation I joined forces with local ecologist and photographer Wyn Jones to compile a photographic history of a special place that really copped the epic landscape events of 2019-2020: drought, fires, floods and growth. The iconic Blue Gum Forest has a unique place in the hearts of many bushwalkers and nature lovers, and the collection spans nearly 150 years of how photographers have seen the forest. My solo exhibit, Transfiguration, explores how fire and flood have both changed and revealed the environment of the Blue Mountains, visually, physically and ecologically. If you visit these exhibits, please also read the text that goes with them.
I like wild and bleak landscapes. Tasmania’s Central Plateau is one of the largest extents of alpine country in Australia, with huge areas over 1200 metres elevation and many peaks over 1400 metres. Its the roof of the island. Although remote and windswept, the plateau is far from barren. Lake-studded expanses and rocky pavements are densely embroidered in the most exquisite montane gardens, featuring Pencil Pines, Snow Gums, cushion plants, fern bogs and (very prickly) scoparia shrubs . I have long wanted to cross the whole plateau, and in October 2019 we walked for 12 days from north to south, from the Great Western Tiers near Deloraine, through the Walls of Jerusalem to the Lyell Highway near Lake St Clair. Most of our walk was through World Heritage listed reserves, and justly so.
I was both surprised and pleased to be selected by art consultants to create a large-scale photographic mural for the new Community Dialysis Unit at Katoomba Hospital. The brief called for a “memorable, restful and welcoming” artwork stretching the full length of the facility – a wall 23.5 metres long. With windows and other interruptions, this was a challenging task, on a tight timeframe. So I enlisted my colleagues and friends Ian Charles and Marianne Walsh of Nature Tourism Services to apply their aesthetic, design and photo-editing skills.
Part of the mural “Flourish”, showing windows
We came up with a composite of several misty forest scenes from the higher Blue Mountains, with some inserted flora and fauna. The clients liked it and the printer completed a tricky install just in time for the opening in July. We hope the mural improves the experience of dialysis patients, who visit the unit up to three times a week for up to fours hours at a time. The unit is divided into three treatment ‘rooms’ and we designed the mural to provide some variety by being different but congruent across the rooms.
Plenty of research has shown the benefits of nature and art for health, wellbeing and recovery, and I was delighted to be able to use my photography for such a worthwhile purpose.
The Sierra Nevada is the largest stretch of wild country in the ‘lower 48’ of the United States, and a superb alpine landscape. Pioneer conservationist John Muir came to love the Sierra, which he described as the ‘range of light’. He made the area pivotal in the birth of the modern nature conservation and national park movement. In 1984 I did a long ski journey through the High Sierra and swore one day to return for the rock climbing. It only took 34 years, but in 2018 a friend and I made the pilgrimage. We climbed in Tuolumne Meadows, a little in Yosemite, and enjoyed long routes on six High Sierra peaks. Inbetween we visited some other wonderful places such as the Alabama Hills and the White Mountains with their ancient Bristlecone Pines.
My new monochrome exhibition has been showing at Light and Shadow Fine Art Gallery at Leura since 30 May, and at least some works will be there into July. Natural Reflections includes some images from Edge of Light, with a number of new works. Small prints are also for sale. Light and Shadow was opened in February 2018 to showcase the work of iconic Australian photographer Max Dupain. The gallery will continue to exhibit Dupain mixed with other photographers. Its the only gallery dedicated to photography in the Sydney region…so I hope people will support it!
My next exhibition will open at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre on 1 December, running until the end of the month. This one is a departure for me, as Edge of Light is my first all-monochrome show. It features images from wild places I’ve explored, including the Blue Mountains (of course), New Zealand mountains, Tasmania, Greenland and Far North Queensland. Many photographs compare and contrast features from very different environments. I’ve been delving into B&W for a while, with both large format film and digital, and learned that only some images work for me in monochrome. Others just have to be in colour, while some can succeed in both modes with appropriate processing.
All images are for sale in limited editions, and some are also available in smaller prints. The Heritage Centre is down the end of Govetts Leap Road out of Blackheath, and is open 7 days, 9.00 to 4.30 (closed Christmas Day). I hope you enjoy it.
My upcoming solo exhibition at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden (Mount Tomah) will run for seven weeks from 2 September to 22 October 2017. The theme is A tree, a leaf a forest: Wild Gardens of the Blue Mountains, with 30 never-before-exhibited works of grand forests to leaves and lichens, woodlands, heaths, rainforest and swamps. If you ever thought the Australian bush was mundane or monotonous (shame!) I hope this show can correct that perception.
In the spring of 2016 I spent a few days in the valleys of the Allyn and Paterson Rivers, which drain the southern side of the Barrington Tops plateau in central eastern NSW. The purpose was to gather images in support of adding parts of the beautiful Masseys Creek and Chichester State Forests to Barrington Tops National Park. As I hope these photographs show (see Other Places – New South Wales mountains gallery), the area is well worthy of better protection.