Reef V 2014 acrylic on linen 82 x 82 cm
I recently spent some time in Fiji, trekking in the forest and hills, and wandering along the coast. Many of the people I met lived directly from the land and the sea: gardening, hunting, gathering and fishing.
I became intrigued by the lagoon environment near the village I stayed in. The folks there lived as part of an environment, not on top of it as we do here in Australia. Their lives were far from idyllic, in case you’re thinking I’d had one too many kava bowls, but they were certainly more integrated into their surroundings: connected to the pigs and tavioka in the forest, to the fish and coconuts on the coast and to everyone in the village, and the neighbouring villages.
The calm water of the lagoon contrasted with the distant booming of the surf on the reef several hundred metres away. The vast and powerful South Pacific reduced to a thin sliver of horizon. I made sketches, standing waist-deep in the water, fish nibbling my legs. On the days when it rained, the world turned silver and grey. I found that I would often lose my balance as the horizon was so faint that the sky and sea seemed to merge into one. I was a landscape painter in a landscape with almost nothing in it. What to do?