We love the bushwalker’s haven of Lamington National Parkup in Queensland’s Gold Coast. An amazing volcanic landscape known for its green rainforest, it nevertheless was scorched in recent years. As with our own bushfires of past and future, it’s too simplistic to simply say the place was destroyed, since so much has survived. Landscape change on the Fire Continent is a complex thing, and these little cartoons tell our story too. In these delightful cartoons, we are first shown the human fears and anxieties, and in the next issue, the colours and shapes of the post-fire forests.
After years of training to be a scientist, and then years of work as a scientist and public servant, I’m still trying to figure out what it means to be an artist.
Many gorgeous spring things are filling our days, up here in Beechmont, Queensland. September also brings emotional recollections of the 2019 bushfire which burnt onto and around the Beechmont plateau, and into Lamington National Park. But this year we are also coming together to reflect on our Regeneration after the 2019-2020 fires, in an art exhibition of the same name. I am honored to be part of this inspiring project, brought together by a team of hardworking local community members, with support from the Scenic Rim Regional Council.
My contribution to the Regeneration exhibition is a series of scruffy, wobbly cartoons I created shortly after the 2019 fire. They were a direct and honest expression of my reaction to the fire, and how I was trying to make sense of what had happened, and stay positive afterwards. The simple, square format was designed for sharing on social media, as my intent was to reach others impacted by the bushfires. Those fires that had already occurred, and those that continued to burn around the country during that spring and summer.
From my earliest memory I was fascinated with nature, more than anything else. Once I realized the environment was in trouble, this kindled a powerful motivation to work actively in conservation. Science was the path I chose to do this. A PhD in ecology was followed by 13 years working for state government environmental agencies. Recently I’ve come to the realization that facts alone aren’t very effective in changing human behavior (and conservation is primarily about changing human behavior). Because of this, I’ve become more interested in other ways to engage people in nature, and to awaken concern for the environment. Science is the best way of improving our rational understanding of nature. But perhaps we have forgotten why people like nature in the first place. And what makes them want to conserve it. So in my writing and art I am letting my creative, artistic side, accompany my scientific brain, in an exploration of all that is fascinating about nature. I hope you enjoy it.
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