Monthly Archives: March 2023

Radiant Guest

“Radiant Guest” drawing in coloured pencils, 22.5 x 20 cm. March 2023

When my daughter Lucy came to visit from Sydney last spring I took her to Lake Gwelup to show her the rainbow bee-eaters. Together we observed, marveled at, and photographed these vivacious creatures at their Gwelup breeding ground.

Rainbow bee-eaters fly south from northern Australia to the rest of the country each spring. While here they dig tunnels in order to lay their eggs underground, then rear their young over summer. They head back north in autumn. During their visit to our suburbs they attract attention and feature prominently on Facebook in bird photography groups. Photographers outdo one another to capture in-flight photos. I’m quite happy with a perching bird as I like to study its expression.

The rainbow bee-eater in my drawing sits on a branch of a banksia tree keeping an eye out for flying things to eat. The dappled sunlight effects on foliage and bird are suggestive to me of stained glass – perhaps a Tiffany lamp.

Lucy in a happy state of bird-watching. This was her first time seeing rainbow bee-eaters.
Note the long fine tail streamer of this bee-eater. He is male; the bee-eater I drew is female.

“October Arrivals” – my 2021 drawing of a male rainbow bee-eater.

I didn’t even know these birds existed until 2021. And during this last summer I realized that some pairs were nesting just a few streets from where I live in North Coogee. I heard their calls on the wind and followed the sound. While it is crazy to suggest that there could be a silver lining to the Covid-19 storm cloud; still, I only became aware of our beautiful birds because I was stuck in my state!

Southerly Change

“Southerly Change” oil painting, 30 x 40 cm, painted in 1983/1984.

I have just been reunited with one of my old paintings. I painted it so long ago that I couldn’t remember quite the year or time or place. I had to do some memory-and-photo-album searching for clues. My sister, Jeannie, returned this painting to me on a recent trip to New Zealand. It is now the oldest art work in my possession; between 39 and 40 years old!

The photo I painted this from was taken in 1983 on my first trip back to New Zealand after moving to Sydney the previous year. I remember I was walking down Colombo Street in Christchurch and it was a most perfect winter’s day. As I walked, dramatic clouds began forming over the Port Hills. They heralded a southerly change after which there was no more blue sky but mist, rain and bleak mid-winter cold.

Here I am during that trip (in Stokes Valley, Wellington) with Jonathan and Marie; my nephew and niece. (Remember those 1980’s pullovers? Princess Diana wore one.)

A visit to the Clements family in Beckenham. I wasn’t married back then but now these are some of my brothers- and sisters-in-law, and nephew, Joseph. And Friend, Sarah.

At Christchurch Airport – my brother, Max, my sister-in-law, Clare, and friend, Sarah. I was returning to Sydney, Australia.

I was able to date “Southerly Change” to before I had my first baby who was born in October 1984. Here I am pregnant and waiting for the event – with the painting as part of the bedroom scenery.

Once the baby (Emily) arrived it was difficult to paint but I kept going and here is a photo (and painting) from early 1985.

What fun it is to have “Southerly Change” back and to reconnect with memories of that era. I am grateful to Jeannie for keeping things.

To see more oil paintings from the 1980s and 1990s of New Zealand click here