Grass Tree and Banksia – Lismore

The lockdown earlier this year took the wind out of everyone’s sails but wherever there is a problem, there is also an opportunity. Northern Rivers artists Philippa Nilant and Sky Haughton underwent a creative journey during the period when many other opportunities were restricted, which led to an investigation into the burnt grass trees of Nightcap National Park and the bushfire affected coastal banksias of the Clarence Valley. They were inspired to paint and the resulting exhibition will have its opening night at the Serpentine Community Gallery in Lismore on Friday and continue until Tuesday, October 20.

“This body of work captures the unique and rugged nature of these two iconic species, the grass tree and banksia,” the artists write in the exhibition notes.

“This collection of paintings presents their story of survival and is a glimpse into a landscape touched by fire.

“We started painting again during lockdown. After years of focusing on other things, finally there was space to think about what we wanted to do with our time.”

In the Nightcap National Park, much of the subtropical pocket is still struggling to recover but Phillipa and Sky found the grass trees along top of the ridge are thriving, with new shoots and hundreds of babies emerging from the ground.

They then took their paints and boards on a camping trip to Yuraygir National Park in the Clarence Valley where last year fire burnt 8530 hectares. They were inspired to paint the coastal banksias, which had been declining in numbers, possibly because of the absence of fires for many years.

“Though we’ve both used different mediums to explore our subjects, over time we recognised many similarities between our works and that subconsciously, we are heavily influenced by each other,” they write.

“To capture the unique and rugged nature of these two iconic species, the grass tree and banksia, is a real challenge and this collection of paintings shows our efforts to present their story and to glimpse a landscape touched by fire.”

When: Friday, October 9 to Tuesday, October 20, 10am-4pm

Where: Serpentine Community Gallery, 17 Bridge Street, North Lismore

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