Neighbourhood gumnut gathering


I can easily find a lifetime’s worth of inspiration in Australian nature. It can be found in leaves, rocks, shells, water and all the various animals and insects. These paintings represent just a handful of times when I have stopped to admire something I have encountered while walking around neighbourhoods, hiking trails and national parks.

Banksia clump
Oil on canvas. 30cm x 40cm.

The banksia doesn’t make any sense. There is no top or bottom, no front or back. The seed pods are fused together in no style or pattern, as if they exploded from a central kernel like a popcorn. It’s a solid clump of mouths.

It’s given some sense of order by the fact it’s hanging from a branch. It may be chaotic, but it has some stability and predictability in how it grows. It makes me think of the choices I have on my branch of time. I could do a whole range of things and go off in any random direction, but I’m going to keep walking along this path until I reach my destination, which today is a secluded beach. Should I grow in a predictable and safe pattern or be more like this banksia and explode in any direction and in any random form?

Bees in the gumnuts

Oil on canvas. 50cm x 40cm.

On a crisp winter morning I was walking to the beach because I knew the cold would keep people away and I would be alone with the ocean. There was nobody else on the bike path and no distractions which is maybe why I noticed the branch of a gum tree with snow-white bark reaching out over a fence, as if it was waiting for me to walk by so it could scruff my hair with its long twig fingers.

I walked under it and looked up. The gumnut pods, about one meter above me, were already empty having lost their blossoms. The inside of the gumnuts appeared luminescent yellow as the sun shone through. Despite a lack of flowers, there were still bees crawling inside the pods, devouring nutrients I couldn’t see. I wondered how the tree was still able to attract bees without flowers, but then I realised I was standing there just as captivated as the bees.