Written and Posted On-line 4th April 2011
Hi Folks my name is Kim. For the past 6 years I have lived out in the middle of The Kimberley at Mt Hart. I am an artist, and I love painting, drawing and being creative more than anything in this world… So right now I would like to tell you a story about the history of my life as an artist. I also want to take you on a tour of the art I have created since I have lived here amongst the wilderness splendour at Mt Hart.
My story begins with a man named Angry Andersen – who was and still is an absolute Australian legend...
Angry Andersen photographed at the carbon tax rally by Brumbyy 02/04/2011
I met him when I was ten - when I won an art competition about children living on the streets with no family…no home. As part of this competition, we had to draw a picture about our interpretation about street kids. At the time there were 1000’s of kids I was competing against. As it turned out, I reached a draw with another girl my same age in the state competition. This meant we both won. First prize was lunch at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane with Angry Andersen, for both myself and my family…as well as $350. Back then, $350 was a lot of money for 10 year old!
So this little girl and her family ended up at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane eating a 5 course meal, in a 5 star hotel, with 5 star service. Angry Andersen sat next to me at lunch – As one of the guests of honour, I was separated from my family, who were seated at a different table. At my table, apart from Angry who had his own dress code, I was surrounded by a bunch of people dressed in fancy suits and ties. But, fortunately for me, Angry Andersen was sitting right next to me on my right hand side…Angry was not interested in what those dandily dressed blokes across the table had to say...In fact, he kind of ignored them. I was 10 years old and the only thing he was interested in was what I had to say; “What’s life like for you Kimberly? Tell me more about that picture you drew about street kids”
With the pleasantries out of the way, Angry got up and he spoke to us all. He spoke in front of all those bureaucrats, dandy folk and all without palm cards, without script – straight from his mind, straight from his heart. He talked from his soul that day.
Angry Andersen - Close up at the Carbon Rally
My recently passed Grand Mother was there with me and the family and I am so very thankful she was, for she confirmed my own 10 year old feelings of this great man, when afterwards she told me privately in no uncertain terms;
“That man stood up there with all his tattoos, his funny bald head and earrings, dressed the way he was and even though I don’t agree with the way he looked, all rugged, rough and the like…he spoke from his heart, and spoke the truth. What that man showed you today is one of the most important messages you will ever learn in your life.”
As a result; to this very day, I have nothing but respect for the man. It is that day, that moment in my life, that really sums up what being an “artist” means to me. For what I learned during those hours at The Hilton from Angry Andersen, has come to represent all which I stand for. That one single day when I was 10 years old changed my life forever; for that day instilled in me the belief in the principals of life I had been taught, and my belief to do good by others. It is these very beliefs and principals that I find I am now standing for 18 years later, against The Department of Environment and Conservation of Western Australia (DEC)…
For I see someone who deserves better…
I see someone who should be treated with the RESPECT and APPRECIATION he deserves.
Some of the artwork I have produced since I have been at Mt Hart are murals that are permanent and cannot be removed. So when we are obliged to leave Mt Hart, I don’t know what will happen to these works of art…perhaps they will be bulldozed, or painted over, eaten by termites, or simply forgotten about…But I hope the murals I leave behind will be retouched and preserved by those who care, who may come to work or live out here in the future.
These paintings are not from my imagination. They are not “romantic” visions. The images I have painted convey stories I have learned and researched from; The past - journal entries, photos and writings by those who have lived at Mt Hart before, The present…from Taffy and the people he knows in the local community, as well as my observations of the wildlife and country all around me on a daily basis.
So please follow me…I want to show you more…
Many of you who have stayed here over the years have bought prints of my artworks. And I hold all the compliments you gave me about my work very close to my heart. Some of you wanted to buy the originals but I told you;
“These paintings belong to this country, I painted them for this country…I could never sell them…”
And that still stands...
When I first came to Mt Hart I painted exactly what I saw…
The dingoes who loved us so unconditionally and were always there for us, Taffy and the surrounding bush land in all its glory…
Honey, Mt Matthew and a Boab tree (above)
Luca dingo – as a juvenile standing in the river in flood during the wet season(above)
I also started painting art documenting the history of the land from old journals, newspaper articles and novels written about Mt Hart...
Aboriginal Stockmen - Mt Hart 1970's(above)
Father and Son(above)
Now a lot of these paintings I gave to fellow staff members, tourists and even to pilots who came here on scenic flights…
Flying with two feet on the ground (above)
Some of these paintings have even ended up in the homes of people like John Garland, who have helped us out and appreciated all we have done here.
A professional artist from NSW came out about 15 months ago to stay with us for 3 nights and he said to me at the time after studying my artwork;
“Kim do you know why you are really here at Mt Hart?”
“No” I replied
“Because this country needs a translator” he said to me
And those words have really stuck with me since for they made sense. As time went by, Taffy asked me to complete some murals around the place. The first was a mural of finches and flycatchers in the dining room…A woman who stayed here took a photo of this mural and paid me the biggest compliment, upon her departure, when she asked of me if she could get a local artist she knew to copy my mural onto the wall of her home for her daughter’s wedding...
Then in the wet season of 2006 whilst the rains were thundering down I tackled the following historical, heritage project in the bar…
It contains the following paintings…
“Mt Hart Birdlife – 24 hour time lapse”
This section of the mural (photo above) which is in the bar shows how many species of birds use the same waterhole out here within a 24 hour time frame. A man was out here with his wife, who was an avid bird watcher. He was dying of cancer and only had 2 months left to live. Before he died all he wanted to do was travel the Kimberley so that is what they were doing. And he bought a print of this image and in the process told me how much this image meant to him. And what he said to me that day about my art, and my work, was really inspirational.
“Stumpy Frasers Homstead”(above)
This historical depiction (above)of Stumpy Fraser's homestead at Mt Hart which forms part of the mural in the bar was taken off original photos of the homestead site donated to us by Sam Lovell
“Mt Matthew Gorge Night vision - 24 hour time lapse”(above)
This painting also in the mural in the bar (above) shows Mt Matthew gorge at night time with all the wildlife that use this water hole over a 24 hour time period.
“Mt Hart pioneers” (above); Bill Chalmers and Felix Edgar (1914-1934), Stumpy Fraser (1935-1957), Charlie Telford (1960-1966), Peter Murray (1967-1977), Taffy Abbotts (1990-????)”
This part of the bar mural (above) depicts all the pioneers of Mt Hart since 1914. This image was also painted off original old photos taken of these individuals in history novels, old photos and newspaper articles;
"Harry the Stockman - 1950's (above)"
Now when some people look at this painting they think it is a picture of Taffy…but it is not. It is a painting of an aboriginal stockman living at Mt Hart during the 1970’s. I copied his image off of an old black and white newspaper clipping on Mt Hart when it was run by Thiess back in the 1970's (hence the black and white tones used). This stockman's name was "Harry". In the painting I made Harry's hat torn at the top, and I put a big ferocious looking bull behind him. And to tell you the truth…at the time I had no idea why I painted it. And then about 12 months later, a man came to stay with us. He had lived and worked out here at Mt Hart as a stockman at the same time as Harry during the 1970’s.
And he said to me;
“That’s Harry isn’t it?”
“…Yeah” I replied “It is…”
“You know what that painting means to me?”
“No….I’ve got no idea why I painted it…” I said
“Well, back when I was here as a stockmen working for Theiss”, he said “…and, we were out mustering cattle, on the back of mules. This big old bull was being really stubborn, and would not budge. Then he came straight at me. I just managed to pull the mule aside…just in time. In the process I fell off the mule and broke my arm. The bull swiveled and came back at me again, horns down low to the ground. But then Harry - the stockman in that painting you have done, jumped in front of me waving his hat at the bull. The bull charged towards Harry, skewering his hat on his horn, and then started to take off after Harry. Harry ran for his life, and dove into a sandy creek bed. The bull jumped right over the creek bed, over the top of Harry, onto the other side and kept going. It was a real close call. But you know what?…Harry saved my life that day.”
So there you go folks… and that story in its self sums up what being an artist living at Mt Hart really is all about…
The following picture sums up everything I have worked for and everything I am fighting for. It hangs on the wall in my bedroom. I have woken up to this image every morning for the past 6 years and fallen asleep to it every single night…Mt Hart is my home...
I painted this portrait of Taffy (as seen below), for Taffy, to show him how much I care…It hangs in the dining room…
"Hearts of Gold" (above)
The following picture really sums up what this country means to me…
"Golden Sunset" (above)
It was given to our friend from Switzerland Rolph who has flown out here every year, for the past 20 years, in his own plane and seen Mt Hart change and grow. Rolph calls Mt Hart his “second home”
I have done quite a few pictures for friends living in the local Kimberley community over the years. These two hang in Anne Koeyers sitting room at Drysdale river station. To me these two portraits sum up a way of life that is purely Australian outback.
“Brute in Blue - Joanna Koeyers and Nic” (above)
“Taffy and Luca at Sunset” (above)
Another one of the murals I have done I want to share with you now is titled “Eagle rock”. It is painted on a wall in the dining room. I can’t share with you the exact reason for this painting, for the story line is sacred from an indigenous perspective. My greatest hope is that this picture won’t be bulldozed or neglected...
Anyway folks this is just some of the paintings and murals I have done since being at Mt Hart. I hope they have helped give you a glimpse into my world, in all I stand for, and into what Mt Hart is really about