The Grand Canyon Track near Blackheath was opened in 1907 by NSW Premier Joseph Carruthers. The walk, now in Blue Mountains National Park, quickly grew in reputation as one of the great attractions of the area and was even compared to Jenolan Caves. The enchanting track traverses a deep and spectacular gorge filled with ferns, dark overhangs and running water.
Just over 100 years later, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service embarked on an ambitious restoration project. In nine years they replaced 2000 stone steps and many hundreds of metres of handrail and stairways. The 19th century construction was visionary but rough; the 21st century version, with helicopter assistance, is a masterpiece.
The track is now visited by 90,000 people a year, and was officially re-opened in October 2017 to wide acclaim. Part of the celebration involves a travelling exhibition exploring the history and heritage of one of the best walks in the Blue Mountains. The exhibition includes many historical photographs displayed for the first time.
As part of my ‘day job’, I was delighted to work on the research and content for the exhibition. Local designer Heath Killen turned it into something special. This evocative exhibition can be seen at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre (NPWS), end of Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath, until the end of November (7 days, 9.00 to 4.30) and hopefully at other venues later.
I was delighted to have my entry receive 2nd Place in the 2017 Blackheath Art Prize, an open competition run by the Blackheath Art Society. Of course art comps are always idiosyncratic and its no great shakes to win, or to ‘lose’ either, but it can mean at least one experienced art person thinks your work is of a high standard. And it was nice to have nature photography recognised against a swag of other styles of visual art (apples and oranges come to mind). The judge, Lee-Anne Hall from Penrith Regional Gallery, also gave a commendation a nature photograph by another artist.
My work was a large (61 x 76 cm) print of The clouds parted, Gangerang Range, a version of which happens to be on the cover of my 2018 Wild Blue Mountains Calendar. Its from a 4 x 5 inch transparency and a magical morning near Kanangra Walls. Ms Hall said that the image was “both technically brilliant and glorious. As with all good photography, the artist has waited to capture a moment in time – when clouds part to reveal the majesty of the mountains”.
Prints of the image are currently available at this size (edition of 10) for $750 (print only, unframed).
Next year’s calendar has landed. After the 2017 edition won a Diemen Award, I’m happy to say that the high quality of printing has been maintained. The cover of the 2018 edition features a dramatic morning scene in the Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness, and other images range through The Valley of the Waters (Wentworth Falls), Bindook Highlands, Grose Valley, Wollemi National Park, Mugii Murum-ban State Conservation Area (Capertee Valley) and the Gardens of Stone Two reserve proposal. I’m particularly pleased with the title page image of a Pacific Black Duck preening on Glenbrook Lagoon.
The calendar can be purchased direct from this website (see Publications) for $35 plus postage, with discounts for 3 or more copies, and from the usual retail outlets in the Blue Mountains.
A variation of The Elements exhibition that appeared at Mount Tomah earlier this year will be showing at Braemar Gallery, Springwood, from 24 August to 17 September 2017. This time more artists are included, with a richer diversity of art:
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.
I am one of six artists exhibiting in The Elements, a Blue Mountains Artists Network themed group show at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah until 26 March 2017. My photographs are in impressive company, with paintings by Shane Smithers and Adrian Gilbert, installations by Regine Wagner, mosaics by Caitlin Hughes and photos by Gary Hayes.
I’m pleased to announce a new website, all about nature in the Greater Blue Mountains, with imagery, writing and other artistic responses to this magnificent environment. Called simply Blue Mountains Nature, it has been developed by Alan Page, a photographer, web developer and keen botanist, and myself , and is now ‘live’ at: bmnature.info
The site is non-commercial and depends on the generous contributions of many local experts and artists. Our plan is to keep growing it with accurate and comprehensive information, links and more art. We hope you will use it, enjoy it, and visit often to learn more about our wonderful region.
2017 is a bumper year for my involvement with the Australian Conservation Foundation / The Wilderness Society Diary, an annual showcase of natural Australia. I’ve been contributing images since 1987 and have only missed selection in 4 editions. For 2017, I’m excited that 7 of my images were chosen to be included, the most ever. The diary can be purchased here:
The 2017 Wild Blue Mountains Calendar has won a Diemen Award for Best Calendar. Our printers Mercury Walch submitted the calendar for the Diemens – a new award scheme for the Tasmanian print, digital, design and TV industries. Its nice to get some industry and peer recognition that our printing is top quality – and that presumably the photography and design are up to scratch too!