It has taken weeks to dry out my clothes, painting materials, sleeping gear + entire car following the wettest painting session I’ve ever undertaken, in NSW’s Wollongong + surrounds. But the fun I had by far eclipsed the drenching I endured. The Illawarra region is utterly beautiful, full of fascinating places natural + industrial, + filled with wonderful warm folk with whom I shared many good times.
On arrival, I watched stormclouds loom, + quickly hunted around town for some suitable places to make quick paintings:
The rain started to fall as I finished my last throwie. Over the following couple of days I watched the downpour from an enormous empty warehouse, generously loaned to me by artist Poncho Army, where I could paint some panels for Wollongong in comfort. The rain wasn’t going to beat me.
I also painted a mural at The Little Prince, a super local cafe/bar/restaurant which was deceptively quiet during the day, then overflowing with fun folk in the evenings.
After nearly a week of constant torrential downpour, complete with dam-bursts, rock-falls, closed roads + widespread flooding (I was unlucky enough to visit during a weather inversion, where the rain was trapped in the region, circling around + around, unable to dissipate), I decided to try to drive above the clouds, up into the Highlands, to escape the soggy weather. I was so glad that I did…
A few years ago I had read about an enormous abandoned factory high up in the NSW mountains; while trying to escape the rain I was lucky enough to find the property, in the centre of a large field, ringed by forest, solemnly overlooking the townsfolk who went about their business oblivious to its dark, looming presence. And the rain had stopped.
I would have liked to have stayed longer, but local security was enthusiastic + tenacious, so I returned to the sodden township at the base of the mountains, thankful to have had a break from rainfall for a few hours at least.
The ‘Bread and Butter’ art event scheduled towards the end of my Wollongong week event gave me a superfun chance to talk alongside Ears, Apeseven + Poncho Army about my art career, + also live paint with Apeseven + Poncho Army throughout the day. It was a fun, social way to wrap up my time in the region.
On my last morning in Wollongong, I awoke to silence: no drumming of rain on the roof, it had finally ceased! I emerged from the house + was met with brilliant blue skies + warm sunshine, the region’s parting gift to me. I had been wanting to use a nearby piece of hard rubbish as a canvas for a portrait of Ludwig, the beautiful Boxer who had (along with his owners) welcomed me into his home, but until now the rain had prevented me. Very quickly, I scrawled his lovely face on the table, + left his happy family for a quick explore of the region before heading home.
I found an incredibly beautiful installation in nearby Port Kembla; on a clifftop overlooking a thundering ocean sat an army of stark white pyramids. They were not accompanied by any signage or explanation, + while I imagined a variety of celestial or otherwordly purposes, I later discovered that they were tank barriers, placed in the shallows to prevent tanks coming ashore during World War II. Practical in origin, but no less magical in effect.
While driving to a nearby lookout on the road home, I came across a burned-out car, the smell of freshly charred rubber + plastic still lingering in the calm morning air. After a quick painting I drove away, planning to return shortly + take a photo with the car in the full sun; instead, with incredibly good/bad timing, I returned 20 minutes later to the sight of the car being towed!
It was a fantastic week, + I am excited at the prospect of returning to the region later in the year.
A huge thank you to Poncho Army, for organising Bread and Butter, inviting me to the region, offering me your super warehouse/workshop space, + welcoming me into your wonderful home. I look forward to seeing you again soon.