Back to Back Issues Page
Perspectives, Issue #022- Christmas Thoughts
December 08, 2011

"Perspectives" - Christmas Thoughts

Low Isles, late November 2011

What better place to start writing to you than from the shady verandah of the caretaker’s residence on beautiful Low Island near Port Douglas in North Queensland?

This newsletter might proceed rather slowly as I am easily distracted by the sights and sounds around me. I look up to gaze on the surrounding ocean, a dozen or so tourists snorkelling happily in the coral lagoon, several yachts sitting quietly, anchored for the night, their hulls bright white against the turquoise sea.

The song of the incoming tide as it pushes small waves up the beach then retreats with its tinkling, ‘whooshy’ music as shells, coral and coarse sand move back and forth, is soothing. Constantly in the background is the ‘coo-coo’ soft and hypnotic call of the Torres Strait pigeons conversing from nests of sticks precariously built in the branches of, now leafy, beach almonds.

Further away is Woody Island, the other part of Low Isles, a dark smudge of mangroves giving sanctuary to many tens of thousands of Torres Strait (Imperial Pied) Pigeons and whirling terns, nesting in sheltering roots.

Low Isles was the subject of a major exhibition four years ago, the result of visits made by a group of artists who came to train as volunteer caretakers, to observe the annual coral spawning and to gather information for their art-work.

That exhibition, "Low Isles, a Fragile Sanctuary", was the beginning of the annual Go Troppo Arts Festival, unfortunately not held this year because of an acute shortage of funds.

Great Barrier Reef Sentinel

My first visit to the island was with artist, Tania Heben. I remember the strange feeling of being the only people on the island at night and our panic when the generator chose to ‘play up’. Once a phone call to caretaker Steve, holidaying on the mainland, gave us the solution to put more load on it, all was well. These days the island runs almost exclusively on solar power – surely the best solution for a sun-drenched speck in the ocean!

The island is a strategic weather station and the home of the oldest lighthouse on the North Queensland coast. Now fully automated, until fairly recent times the kerosene light was kept burning brightly by resident lighthouse keepers who worked in shifts day and night to maintain this essential service to passing ships using the busy shipping lane through the Great Barrier Reef.

Trained volunteers are currently rostered to care of the island while the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority searches for a new, permanent caretaker.

...continued Early December 2011


As always there is an on-going programme of interesting exhibitions happening all along the tropical coast. Check this for what artists themselves are telling us.

The Cairns Regional Gallery is currently showing its annual fundraiser The Postcard Show. Drop in and place a bid in this silent auction if you are in the area.

Painter and printmaker, Christine Eyres’ latest show, “Reaching Port” opens at Vivo Restaurant Art Room in Palm Cove on December 16 and continues until March. This sounds like a good opportunity to enjoy a spot of lunch in beautiful surroundings over the next few weeks after you have viewed the exhibition!

Port Douglas Artists

Port Douglas Artists are scattered to the four winds at present with Terry back at his gallery in Robe, South Australia, Marie at their gallery in Nelson, New Zealand and Michael in Tasmania for a small break. I am ‘keeping the fires burning’ by going in to the studio most mornings to work on a collection of fabrics and scarves which will form part of an exhibition with Michael in January.

But, as most artists will tell you, it’s difficult to ‘earn a quid’ in these days of belt tightening and buyers are few and far between. People have to eat and pay for petrol but they can manage without buying artwork. The problem is that artists are driven to create – so we have an oversupply situation.

Some are discounting prices (I think I shall out up a sign this morning saying “Make an offer” but then, if there is nobody to read it that’s a bit pointless!).

But others are using their huge knowledge of art matters to write e- books and make DVDs about aspects of art making, reaching an eager ‘niche’ market.

Online Drawing and Painting Courses

One person who has been helping artists to organize their material, make videos and promote courses is Chris Elmore. Chris lives in Southern Queensland and has experience in areas that are often foreign to artists. He offers a variety of drawing and painting courses from several artists and includes free samples of most.

Did any of you try the Online Painting course by Richard Robinson? I think it is fabulous and I learnt a lot. Perhaps some of you have purchased Kerry’s Easy Sketching book as I know that it has been selling extremely well. Happy practising!

By the way if anyone is thinking of purchasing the Site Build It course on making your own website business, hold off for a few weeks as there is a ‘two for one’ special coming up soon! Their price hasn’t gone up at all in all the years that I have been associated with them – in fact its value has increased remarkably as they keep adding benefits so often that I can hardly keep up with them!

Your Pages - A Reminder

These pages, built especially for you, appear to be very popular, especially amongst artists and galleries wishing to publicise coming exhibitions and shows.

It’s free and you are very welcome to use any of the sections to show off recent artwork, write an article, share your painting tips, photographs or even haikus etc. You may comment on others’ contributions, thus building a strong on-line arts community. International artists welcome!

A Sad Note

The Port Douglas arts community was very sad indeed to learn of the death in late September of Diane Cilento , whose property, Karnak Playhouse, has been bequeathed to the state. Hopefully, the gift will be accepted, thus ensuring that Diane’s spirit and energy will live on in the place that she loved.

Finally, very happy Christmas and holiday period wishes to you all.


Art in Tropical Australia home page.

Back to Back Issues Page