Wandering and wondering cross WA

Sorry readers (I’m saying plural, but that’s only a weakly informed guess), I’ve been neglecting my blog. Apart from the one about the dog eating my notes I do have the best excuse – I’ve been introduced to Yammer. I’ve been implored to become active, which requires fearsome fortitude and earnest application. It also requires me to set aside my other pursuits. You probably don’t know, but I used to be keen on DIY: hours in the workshop, sawing and chiselling, a tool in each hand. As a hobby it was especially well suited to a rather solitary youth like me stuck in the tool shed and practicing to overcome a slight speech impediment that kept me a little isolated from my peers.

So now, instead of Hammering and Stammering, you can find me Yammering.

For today’s reading, I share with you here some texts that I’m drafting for a catalogue of recent paintings now well under way with my clever student group at The Bowen Street Press, under the expert guidance of Tracy and Cinzia.

Do feel free to drop me a note with any observations, typos, and other such edit; thanking you all in advance.

Nambung

Spread across a vast tract of desert in Western Australia stand hundreds, perhaps thousands, of craggy conical stone pillars. Resembling jagged stumps of broken teeth, they poke out of the custard-coloured sand like steeples, like dented towers, like the fractured walls of a long-forsaken city. The Dutch crews who landed near here in 1650 described it so: an ancient metropolis lost to the sands.

Of course those European sailors were not the first to stumble across the pinnacles, nor were they the first to be wary of their haunting ambience. For previous eons the land was important to the semi-nomadic Aboriginal peoples who came to draw water from a chain of waterholes and caves that filled during the wet season.

Original custodians of the region are the Nyoongar: the desert there belongs to the people of the Yuat and Wajuk language groups. The angular course of the river that flows through the land each winter gives the region its name – Nambung, which translates as ‘crooked’.

To paint and draw amongst these crowds of brittle conical stones is challenging. But in fact they are not brittle at all: they are tough fibrous rocks impaled in the earth. They appear to have traces of tree roots trapped in their cocoons of shelly limestone; they congeal as thick veins of toughened sand; jugular and aorta coursing through the earth.

This is but one of several theories devised to explain the geological mystery of the pinnacles. I am standing amidst a calcified forest, the elaborate casts of tree roots and intricate soil drains that over the eons have filled with wind-blown sand and petrified in place

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