Monthly Archives: July, 2013

Shipton’s Flat

Just south of Cooktown; near Mt Finnigan and not far from Cedar Bay. A patch of rich basalt soil with very biodiverse flora/fauna. A mosaic of Tropical Rainforest and wet sclerophyll. A mecca for naturalists, especially birdos.

The soil and climate are so fecund that new leaves on some rainforest trees and shrubs have a glistening ruby-burgundy hue.

We did two trips to Shipton’s Flat, 17 years apart.

First time it was Lyn and me, to make our film about tropical rainforest. (about which there will be more, here, some day)

Second time was a revisit with our small kids.

Both trips yielded lots of paintings.

Herewith a selection from the last trip.

Black Butcherbird 2 fixed

Black Butcherbird

A raucous bird that can always be seen and heard around Parrot Creek, which winds around Shiptons Flat. I love the deep olives and indigos in the water of Parrot Creek. They make me gasp.

Pied Flycatcher fixed

Pied Monarch

A small flycatcher with an erect-able ruff

Boatbills fixed


Another flycatcher. This one with black, white and yellow plumage, and a delicious twittery trill.

SF moment fixed

Shipton’s Flat Moment

Jubilee ck reach fixed

Jubilee Creek Reach

Hey, these are all pretty, um,  realistic!

I think I believed back then,(the early’90s) that all I needed to do was paint it as best I could, just as it was, and um, hope it would reach out and perform magic?

Little Forks Birdwing

Little Forks Birdwing

Finnigan Cloud Forest 2 fixed

Finnigan Cloud Forest 2

Mt Finnigan sticks up out of the lowland rainforest and has cloud forest at its peak, complete with its almost permanent cloud, misting and dripping on the moss covered granite boulders, little palms, epiphytes, wind-clipped bonsai-like trees.

Finnigan blows

Finnigan Blows

Topknots perch fixed

Topknots Perch

One of those “I saw this!” paintings. A flock of topknot pigeons diving from way up on Finnigan and swooping in to perch with an alarming “Whoooosh”

Turtles all the way down

This one painted itself.

When the directions come from the intuitive (not the intellect) I say the painting painted itself.

If I suffered from grandiosity as some artists do, I would say God directed my hand.

It began as a painting of Minyon Falls near Lismore, (see pastel study)

Minyon Falls smaller

However, the raw rock patches from where large chunks of cliff face have recently fallen enticed me to create chapels.

A tower of something began to insinuate itself in the centre.

I recalled the (apocryphal?) story of the young Bertrand Russell : how he had been giving a talk about the universe, and a little lady stood up and said its all very interesting, but he should realise that the universe is carried on the back of and elephant, which is on the back of a turtle…

“Interesting indeed,” remarked Bertrand, “ and what is under the turtle?”

“Another turtle” she replied.

“Aha! And under that turtle?” quizzed Bertrand,

“Oh you clever young man!” she exclaimed, “Its turtles all the way down!”

and that settled the matter of the central tower.

The issue of the origin and structure of the universe according to various mytho/religio/superstitions became the theme. The chapels became temples to different deities, and the turtles version, which seems more plausible to me than the others, extends downwards to the centre of the universe, if not beyond.

On the left is Mother Natures version, and her deity; the Great Elephant Parrot came and perched on a marble cloud ( supplied by Bernini)