Mungo Identity


When I visited this site, photographing, sketching it, taking rubbings and earth stains it was challenging on many levels. Firstly there were the heat, dust, flies and bees and wind storms. Finding shelter in a flimsy tent in this temporarily harsh environment was inadequate and it felt as though we may have been enveloped by the sand and blown away.

Secondly, the history, archaeological discoveries and how this place was found, revealed by erosion makes it a place of significance. Sheep grazing removed vegetation that exposed the lunette and eventually the site of where Mungo Woman was unearthed ( 40,000 + years).

At the time of each arrival, although ten years apart, I felt a sense of unease and fragmented as though I was viewing this sand dune lunette from an upside down position and  I hoped that on my second time around that my feelings would be together, but no such luck and the painting process attests to my efforts trying to get my head around it. I started it at the beginning of last year and threw the painting aside many times.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyway when I arrived at the image of the solitary up right figure I think it was about how I could depict the way in which the sense of space differed to that of other similar fairly remote locations. A bit of a puzzle because I had lived in outback Central Queensland and this place was similar but much further south. It was as though the element of space or atmosphere was like a solid constricting presence. The exact opposite of how I thought I would feel.

Photographs of Mungo National Park


Lake Mungo


It is several years since my last trip to Lake Mungo when I saw how drought had reshaped part of the lunette by filling in gullies between dunes evident in the Featured Image.


I placed handmade paper over some of the clay pan and took rubbings or frottage which, later in my studio, I incorporated into a composition. Or should I say the composition formed its self gradually around the frottage. Graphite pencil and powder, pastel and oil paint gradually built up in layers that ranged from semi opaque to semi transparent as I tried to capture an ethereal atmosphere and feeling of constant change and transition caused by weather conditions and the red silt deposited on the dune from causing it to become a soft pink.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Experiments with Etching Proofs


I  scraped off an earlier image  from the copper plate which was a variable edition titled A Search for the “Golden Spike”, 2014A Search for 'The Golden Spike', 2014 The changed plate, now destroyed finished that edition. However it lay in my studio for a few months as I intended using the back of the plate for another etching. Then, as frequently happens, another image popped up –  pre-conscious imagery where a seemingly complete mental picture in my mind’s eye seems so real and demanded attention.

The dark areas in the earlier image were made using the aquatint and acid process.I wanted to try out a new tool that creates darkened areas and is called a rocker which doesn’t require an acid bath. Basically its a drypoint method called mezzotint.

Small rocker

Small rocker with fine grooves

Large rocker

Large rocker

Using rockerUsing rockerUsing rocker

The rocking motion and pressure applied both make dotted ridges that imprint into the copper so that when ink is applied it is forced into these depressions as a way to produce a dark section.

In this next stage where I destroyed the image on the plate my main tool was a scraper whereby I removed much of the mezzotint and then burnished the scraped area so that ink could not adhere to the surface before printing.


The horizontal formatted image above changed into a vertical composition. The head and landscape seemed to dissolve into each other within my mind’s eye – less head, less structure all over and a more atmospheric look.The mind’s eye image seemed to be about facial features that mimic aspects of the landscape.  I scraped and burnished the central area and then reestablished small areas around the head with roulettes and etching needle as well as strengthen the linear highlights.


Several proofs depicted in the vertical formatted image.

The second print shown here was proofed first and the first was the ‘improved’ version which was too fussy. I liked the more ethereal first effort. So I scraped off the top and part of the central ‘horizon’ , simplified the busy bits and added a chine colle.

Proofs 1 and 2


The first image with off-white coloured chine colle is quite atmospheric and in the second version the chine colle didn’t take and peeled back, away from the surface making a line gap dividing the top from bottom.  I used orange pastel to join the gap. Still not happy with the sky area, I turned it upside down which gave me another idea that may be suitable for an oil painting. More proofs are required to resolve the image.

Sunset and Oil Paint, 2015

Artist at Lake Mungo

I’ve found it quite a challenge to capture the way that the last citron flash of light at sunset in the desert can be a metaphor for aspects of painting about painting. It correlates to the flash of inspiration as it transitions into paint placed onto a two dimensional surface. The eye of inspiration closes or is obscured as the other eye opens to the process.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.