In comes the fog from the north over Cape Pillar and the Blade

Day 2 - Friday 6 April 2012

I wake up at what seems like a very early time of day. I briefly looked out the window in a sleepy daze to see the sky a rich orange/red colour. Its too early I think to myself so I jumped back into my trusty and still cosy warm sleeping bag that lies on a thin foamy mattress, very close to the floor on a very very old bed base stripped of its legs but made more solid with a section of old heavy wire outdoor meshed fencing that probably once defined the outer perimetre of Q2, and I go back to sleep. I have less enthusiasm about sunrises and sunsets due to my indecision about them artistically. They are just too impossible, too perfect and I just donít know why I need to take photographs of them or attempt, badly, to try and draw them.

When I open my eyes again I can see that the light in the room has changed into a golden yellowish hue signalling the last moment of sunrise before quickly turning into the brilliant white light of a sunny day. Time to get up. Itís just after 7.30am. After a quick wash over my face and head with tank water in the grubby kitchen sink of the sparsely furnished Q2, itís off to Q3 for breakfast. It would appear that I am the 2nd last to arrive. Sue comes in shortly after me.

Today's a big weeding day. On my way down the main track to the top of the haulage way I spot over the north east of the island about 6-8 Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos play fighting in a clump of trees. They are making a terrible skwarking noise. I stop and marvel at them in a dreamy daze before continuing onto my first work destination.

I spend a few quite and lonely hours clearing the track from Q1 down to the top of the haulage way. My aim is to rip out, bag up, then poison the top of the roots remaining on the sharp sinister looking California thistle and spider like dandelion weeds. When I'm done, I trudge my way all the back up to Q3 for morning tea. The grass is very long and itís heavy walking back up. I think a lot again about Sue's up-closeness, particularly when Iím down on my knees pulling out dandelions. I take some close up photos of things, grass, seeds, bark, etc.

After morning tea itís more of the same weeding on the main track before lugging my big black heavy plastic bag filled with weeds back up to behind the Oil Store where there is a weed dump filled with a few years worth of dead weeds from previous trips and hundreds of small spiders in an old overturned 2000 litre water tank.

In comes the fog

Lunch, then itís back down to Q1 again, but this time I'm traipsing through chest high grass looking only for California thistle with Sue. We are both dressed in white full-body protective clothing and safety glasses and spend the afternoon carefully and systematically covering an area north of Q1, spraying poison into as much thistle as we can. Itís hard work particularly on the feet as we slowly make our way through the long grass and small ferns. Its an odd feeling, the job is to kill the weeds by poisoning. Iím covered in a white space-suit; I drench them in pink poison, within rich greens, yellows, gold, whites and greys of the grasses and then in comes a rolling grey fog from the north. This is life. This is saturation of life.

The fog continues to role in from above Cape Pillar, gathering pace and thickness throughout the afternoon, and then the wind picks up. The fog travels over the top of the island in fast moving waves, engulfing everything in one moment, opening up snippets of the landscape in the next. I take many photos but am uncertain if they will work. The wind makes a dramatic and loud whooshing sound, but it doesnít seem too fierce to hinder walking. I love this sort of weather. As Sue says, it feels like you are 'in a different world,' or on another planet. I keep thinking about being in the middle of cold damp cloud, but itís not cold, and the dampness is more like sticky warm humidity. Again another new facet of Tasman reveals itself to me.

I canít believe how much calmer I'm feeling on this trip. Iím happy to weed, to wash and wipe up after the eating rituals. I donít feel it necessary to draw. Looking is enough at the moment. Absorbing the wind, the grasses, the greyness of the fog and how it strips things of their detail. Grey silhouettes of singular tone receding in value become the important features of the landscape in these conditions. I think of my new grey drawings and realise they look odd because they still have too much detail in them. I hope there is more weather like this so I can keep looking and analysing.

As the sun goes down and the sky begins to darken, the fog continues to roll in from over the Blade and Cape Pillar. The scene is splendidly dramatic in its warping of the landscape. An occasional glimpse of a glowing orange sunset peeks through the fog and offers a refreshing burst of light and colour in all of natureís supreme intensity. After experiencing the subdued greyness of colour throughout the afternoon this just makes for an amazing way to end the day. But again I am confused by this scene. What can I do with it through drawing? So many artists have portrayed this time of day. I donít want to go there.

Golden orange light at the end of the day

I have heard that the next few days forecast is for wild windy weather, twice as strong as today, then cold temperatures followed by fine weather in about 3 days time. Iím not quite sure what to look forward to. What will be the focus of these incoming days? More pink poison? More traipsing through the long grass? More walking up and down, back and forth along the pathway from Q1 to Q3.

Iím feeling a little lost for words tonight, like Iím struggling to know what to say. Should I be making a drawing every day? Should I just absorb the experience and acknowledge it through my writings? What more can I do? Thereís talk of Chris and I heading into the lost world area of the island at some stage. This should be a good experience as I haven't ventured down into this part of the island before, and hopefully it will give me a great view of the old tip site from below.

Today, on numerous occasions, I stopped and spent some time squinting my eyes and considering the tonal values of the landscape. I need to do more of this tomorrow as its a great way to focus on absorbing this place. I also took a number of photos of the now collapsed relief keeperís quarters. I walked into it and photographed it from many angles. Iím not sure what Iíll do with these images of rubble yet. Perhaps I could think of it in terms of grey silhouettes, much the same as Strukelj, and also keeping the idea of fogginess in mind. Perhaps I could build up drawings of chaotic compositions much in the same manner as Stanley Spencer did with his WW2 Scottish wharf constructions? I think more looking, analysing and recording with the camera is what I should do, although some drawings of this foggy grey weather in the manner of John Virtueís expressive London-scapes would be another thing to attempt.

My body is tired, and my feet sore after clambering around in the long grass all day. Sleep will be solid tonight, I hope? The wind is up, the windows are rattling, and Iím back on the island, with all of the bellowing, howling and wisping sounds of the weather in this volatile part of the world. I am indeed fortunate to be here.