Lotus Land by Ben Crawfordoil on canvas
When I first visited Australia, chasing the woman who later married me, I was prepared for the stereotypical European view of what it would look like: red dusty vistas, populated with kangaroos and snakes, and bottle corks dangling from Akubras. The Australia I experienced was completely different. My romantic endeavours took me to northern New South Wales, a lush, sub-tropical piece of paradise. As fate would have it, I ended up living there for eight years.
These new surroundings soon started saturating my painting practice with their colours and textures and shapes and stories. More importantly I wanted to paint about my own reaction to this alien world. The valley where we lived was idyllic, but like in so many parts of the world there was conflict between ‘progress’ and maintaining the natural balance of this environment. Our neighbours had permission to mine water. This caused a lot of friction in the community as there were genuine concerns as to the long term impacts it would have on the environment and the lifestyle of the local residents in the valley.
This painting is about that time in my life, of how I would have like to have done more to protest against this development in our area. The figures in the landscape could be seen as either complacent or concerned, ready to act or just happy to sit on their hands.
The fires in Australia this year have really made me think about how my children will view me in the future. Apathy and inactivity aren’t solutions for anything.
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