Looking east late afternoon

Day 4 - Sunday 8 April 2012 (Easter Sunday)

9am-ish - I wake up slightly earlier this morning. I can tell by the brilliant line of orange sunrise poking through the horizon in between ominous dark grey clouds above and a dark mass of deep green foliage beneath sitting on the south-eastern edge of the island. This is the magnificent view I have directly outside of my bedroom window from Q2. What a glorious thing it is. Nature has made the most beautiful thin orange line on the horizon. Even an hour later at 8.36am it is still there holding onto the horizon.

The orange line of sunrise

Itís calm outside, although itís forecast to be windy later on today, so Sue and I will attempt to get some weeding done first thing this morning. Itís also very crisp. Iím sure the temperature has dropped 5-7 degrees from yesterday. It was even cold in my sleeping bag last night.

I walked out of Q3 after breakfast this morning and a flock of Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos flew overhead. They are a beautiful looking bird with striking patches of bright yellow near their eyes and of course on their tails. At first there was about 8 of them playing in the she-oaks just beyond the helicopter landing pad. They then decided to fly across the helipad in my direction but veered northwards towards the back of Q2, then another 4 followed them but this time slightly closer to me, then a further 8 of them flew virtually right over my head, skwarking loudly in a chaotic symphony as they playfully flew overhead. I moved about a dozen steps around to the southern side of the house and a further 4 more flew right overhead, much lower than the others, the whole group of them off towards the north-eastern part of the island where I saw them playing in trees on my 2nd day here. I pause and sigh, what else can I do? Their sound was very high pitched in the still of the morning, but it was such a relaxing sound even though it sliced through the silence of nature and the gentle breeze. In fact, this silence is a nice relief from the last few days of the weathers windy static-like drone. What a sight watching these birds was. I was alone, but I was with them, I felt like screaming in joy in unison with them. I wondered if they saw me, and I wondered what they thought of me. I walked off down to Q2 as they arrived half way down the island on another clump of She-oak. A part of me felt small, another part resplendent with overpowering immensity.

4.16pm Ė What a strange day, the weeding we did behind Q1 took up most of it. Iím sitting now writing from in my room in Q2. Its pale pink walls are cracked in many places. A fly buzzes around the window that is held open with an old timber framed fly screen that isnít quite big enough to cover the whole opening. The wind has picked up and is incessantly droning through the open fireplace, its one of the only open fireplaces that remains functioning on the island. The room is dirty, the raw timber flooring is chipped and scratched and has flecks of paint across it, and there is a darker border painted edge around the circumference of the room. The little table next to my bed is a couple of broken bricks with a thin piece of white fibro-timber placed loosely on top. Its very unsteady but itíll do. I sit in a mustard coloured armchair that is very close to the ground with my computer resting on a slightly taller white chair that Iíve taken out of the kitchen. Other furniture in the room consists of a very old and decrepit wooden wardrobe and a white bedside cupboard with one shelf in it.

Behind Q1 looking up towards the lighthouse

Thereís a single window facing the south-eastern part of the island. On most mornings the orange red glow of sunrise pours through. Thereís a single light hanging from the ceiling and a dirty dark golden brown coloured door. It basic, dirty but I donít really care. Itís Tasman I am on, not at home or hotel. My bed is on an old wire base without the legs, firmed up with a piece of hard wire fencing from the front yard. It makes quite a bit of a noise every time I roll over or move on it. I have a brown blanket covering the thin foam mattress, my cosy jumbo sleeping bag and a rubber pillow from home. Itís comfortable, and I like the raw simplicity of it.

Iím cold; today was cooler than the other days. One of the poison spray bottles stopped working about 45 minutes ago so Sue and I have called it quits for the day. For some reason I feel guilty not working like the others. I shouldnít though; traipsing around in the long chest high grass is difficult and takes a lot out of me. Iím tired, but this a normal feeling when on Tasman due to the wind, working and change of pace.

The long grass

I just looked out the window and there, framed by the fly screen, was a view of a part of the island that I really like (the south-eastern side where the sky meets the island). The fly screen was framing the view like a viewfinder that I have been teaching my students to use. So I stopped and drew it. Finally, the first drawing of the trip comes out after 4 days. And then a second drawing, but this time I drew it from a photograph that I had just taken of the sky filled with dramatic clouds but as a high contrast rough sketch. Itís reassuring to know that the images Iím taking have some potential value in them.

Itís now 5pm on Easter Sunday, Iím not sure whoís working and whoís stopped. I kind of want a bit of peace and quiet so I donít think Iíll head over to Q3 just yet for the dinner ritual. Maybe I should go to the weather station and do a drawing; then again a part of me really couldnít be bothered. Iím eating some jellies that I have bought over, I really should stop or Iíll go a little stir crazy from the sugar hit, too late.

If Iím ĎBecoming Placeí as I briefly wrote about yesterday, then it has to include todayís tiredness and slight crankiness that Iím feeling. I should include the low humming static sound of the wind, the shrill of wildlife in particular the beautiful Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, as well as the monotonous tone of the brush-cutter that has been going non-stop since arrival, and of course the silence; the silence around the dinner table and the general silence (which isnít really silence at all) of nature, or rather the silence that I notice in the difference between the sound of nature and the city. In 5 months Iíll be over the other side of the world visiting Dubai, Croatia, Italy and Paris. Oh dear, my mind is wandering. I feel like sleeping, but that isnĎt going to happen. Perhaps I should go and have a shower and relax a bit over at Q3.

8.37pm Ė Iím in a much better mood than before. I went up to Q3 had a shower (it feels lovely, very luxurious after living for a few days in my own sweat and filth) I sit in the living room, pick up an Australian Geographic and thoroughly enjoyed reading it, particularly scanning through all of the exotic travel ads to places like the frozen north-eastern coastline of Russia, the Arctic, Antarctica, central Australia, India and so on. I may need to get a subscription to this magazine, as I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the wild and looking through the mind-blowing images of places of astounding natural beauty (particularly Iceland, and the story about Adelaideís old underground electric power stations, etc.)

It made me think of my friend Nick Blowers and his recent large painting of a spider. It had images that provoked interesting drawing ideas, and a lot of very beautiful landscapes. Yes landscape, the thing that I am very much attracted to, the thing that in the magazine and in my mind I seem to be frequently drawn to, the same very thing that draws me here to Tasman, its drama, inspiration, fascination, beauty (not romantic, well maybe a little) of a landscape. On its own, without many people, organic in shape, or rather shaped by the forces of nature in unique ways, be it cold or warm, thereís always an abundance of variation within it.

I think again of Becoming Place, but Becoming Landscape. I think this is a little limited in its meaning, Place is a much broader and complex concept, inclusive of history and memory and landscape, but how does one represent history and memory in the depiction of landscape? What methods are there or have been used to depict these elements that make up place that are beyond the obvious?

I hope we get a walk in the next few days. I would love to look closer at the island again rather than concentrating on the working tasks, although this does provide unique ways of seeing and absorbing. However, I would rather be doing this when concentrating on tone, composition, structure and the dramatic macro and micro elements that continues my path of image sourcing, itíll happen, just be patient.