Dry tropics kid

artwork by I. Giardina

Being in the dry tropical zone

My early childhood art influences, that would later effect my early adult explorations, were on a rural property in the dry tropics of Far North Queensland. The period of 1967 to 1970 were the years of solo explorations on Trinacria farm.

Rollingstone farm
Trinacria farm Rollingston 1968 FNQ.

Although isolated, my parents visited artist friends. Bruno and Lorraine with their son Barron, from time to time were the outreach for a newly migrant family. Bruno was a Austrian born portraitist painter who first gave me a painterly sense of place as a form of rural humanism. Their dwelling situated on the periphery of the modernising region of Townsville where homeowner builders’ made do with minimal services. I recalled the timber thunder box, Dunny, the bungalow make shift shelter with the ‘new house being built very gradually’, the yard full of building material, old bomb cars, the classic laundry tub, and animated conversations between papa and Bruno into the night. Thorny trees (Chinese apple) were all over. The dry tropics kid explored the region finding this edge of urban development uninteresting compared to his usual abode. So between Townsville and Rollingstone I began to develop an early appreciation for the Australian dry tropical zone. Its pleasant tropical winters merged into a windy season of dry winds, then the build up to a wet season that gave way to a gentle freshness of scents wafting in through the trees.

Dry tropics kid explores timber.

It is seeing the dry tropical country with a child’s eye, uninhibited by visions of the pioneer agriculturist, that I wondered in solitude. Often mesmerised by the the interlocking timber created by the myriad of grottoes, I would seek out path to the centre of the windrow that spanned many times my body length. There was definitely no omniscent parenting in those libertarian days. My papa would call me over now and then to check my whereabouts but apart from that I was left to contemplate the nature world from the perspective of innocence.

Philosophical renderings of nature.

It was a way of seeing colour and form. This is a divergence from what might be the standard modernising sociologically driven Kantian categorical imperative. The sense of place possibly captivated a child’s initial philosophical enquiries, and then catapulted them into perpetuity. It was by circumstance that top down learning systems were replaced with a interdependent approach. The environment of the dry tropical climate permeated my being as a phenomenological constant. I began to develop an internal sociological model that included the natural world as an anthropomorphic other. This was then transformed into colour fields and sounds when I moved to the wet tropics of Australia.

Dirt tracks, gullies and the sands of time.

Time was not of past present and future as in the flow of time theory, but more akin to immersive interludes of the before and after sequential theory of time. The sort of time were it seems to stand still variety. I’d find myself somewhere up a gully exploring coloured sand for hours. A distant voice echoed as a gazed back through the shimmering gold green leaves. I became aware of this as social marker of time rather than clock time.