Burgooney 2016 - a commissioned artwork

04 May 2016

I received some red dirt in an old Vegemite jar - it came all the way from Burgooney inland NSW.  The dirt was collected many years after an eight year old boy and his family were forced to leave their land.  The eight year old boy - now a successful architect, asked me to capture this lost farm and to include the red dirt he'd collected within the paint. HUGE responsibility!  I also received photographs and a beautifully written 3 page story - here is the introduction.

I’d never been back to where I grew up as a child; a wheat and sheep farm in central-west New South Wales, tiny compared to the merged ones today.  Our farmhouse burnt down a long time ago. I was sad this part of my childhood, a box of memories was gone forever. I returned as an adult in my mid thirties, an anchorless man after imploded loves, groping in darkness for equilibrium, bouts of lurking depression descending like fog. Now I’m standing in grey, red dirt looking at an empty space where our house used to be. Built in unadorned timber, its verandas filled in as more kids came along. Now only small clumps of scrappy artichoke thistle and ragweed grow where our patch of lawn once encircled the house, like a moat defending the civilised from the barbarian, a stupid place really - trying to live and grow crops. Now emptiness not sadness filled me. I was surprised by that.

While working on this painting I was listening to Radio National - it was around ANZAC Day and I heard Idris Murphy recite a beautiful quote - I stopped painting to write it down.

"The beauty of a landscape resides in its melancholy", Ahmet Rasim, Turkish writer (1864-1932)

Two nights ago the boy from Burgooney came to my studio.  I felt sick with anxiety, but all was okay - he loved it!