Ol’ Mate, 2018


Many years ago I went off grid in search of a very special place I knew to be somewhere in the Wollemi National Park, Dharag country, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.

Mother Nature, and extreme solitude, taught me a lot about myself and the environment around me. It felt right that it took three months of climbing down mountains, racing angry snakes up vertical cliffs, and sleeping under the stars to finally find the Sacred site I’d gone there to find.

It’s a unique place, with several massive caves and numerous much smaller ones buts it’s so well hidden that despite having walked within several hundred yards of it , and having looked right across it each time, I’d still missed it completely. However, I knew I’d found it when the hair on my arms and neck stood on end, and I felt immediately welcomed by the spirits of the many who’d called this place home so long ago.

I spent the next three months living in one of the smaller caves and, one day, large chunks of bark started crashing to the ground at the base of the tree just outside its entrance. I’d only just realised what could be doing this when it came into view, the only goanna I’d seen up there. He came into my cave, sniffing with his tongue whilst his eyes adjusted. I’ve seen the damage a scared goanna can do to a person without even trying so I was fearful he’d panic and tear me to bits just trying to get out. After a very tense standoff he finally left and after that we developed a rapport of sorts. I’d greet him in passing, ‘Hello, Ol’ Mate”, and he’d slow and dip his nose a little, which is as much respect as you want from a 2-metre carnivore.

Much of my art starts with a wood-grain background, a nod to the times before white man and canvas when our art was done on rocks, bark and wood. Charcoal is a new medium for me and it presented many unforeseen challenges. That said, Ol’ Mate was a friend in a very significant time in my life and in a place even more exceptional so I wanted to honour both him and the Sacred site by crafting his likeness from charcoal, like much of the ancient artwork in the caves where we met.

I hope I’ve done them both proud.

This artwork can only be collected from The Torch office in St Kilda. The Torch can recommend couriers to be engaged and paid for by the buyer.

114 × 53 cm | Acrylic on Canvas | Cat. no: 463-18