Retires as a part-time wilderness walking guide
Begins to paint more freely in the landscape
Exhibition: The House of the Stare, Utopia Art Sydney
Rediscovers Garie Beach Youth Hostel in the Royal National Park, Sydney
Explores landscape with artist friends, Julie Harris and Euan MacLeod, walking, talking and painting
Visits Yarramie in the Hunter Valley and sees corrugated iron shed as possible bush studio
Walking and painting at Garie Beach
Visits and paints at Badja, a very high cold wet valley in the Great Dividing Range east of Cooma
Returns to Yarramie (October) and paints a large number of gouaches. Fuelled by this experience returns to the Sydney studio on Parramatta Road and completes a large body of oils
Exhibition: Gone Bush, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre (group show of works from Garie Beach with Euan MacLeod and Julie Harris)
Exhibition: Gully, Utopia Art Sydney (paintings from Hunter Valley at Yarramie)
Finishes part-time art teaching to become a full-time painter
Gully exhibited Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Finalist also in Archibald and Sulman Prizes, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Invited artist-in-residence at Bundanon. In six weeks produced five major paintings and over 60 gouaches
Travels to Kerala, India
Realises that to go further into painting the landscape, he needs to live in it.
Visits Myall Lakes and paints a series of gouaches
Exhibition: Paintings from Bundanon, Utopia Art Sydney
C H Crossing the Shoalhaven exhibited Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Paints first Chinese (concertina) artist book
Second residency at Bundanon
Purchases house in Braidwood (October) and moves from Sydney to Braidwood in December
Rents old Coach House around the corner as a temporary studio
Begins extensive exploration of the Braidwood area: the Shoalhaven at Bombay and Mt. Gillamatong, another distinctive landmark
The Road to Bundanon exhibited at Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales. Also finalist in Archibald Prize
Exhibition: Paintings from Tallaganda, Utopia Art Sydney
Establishes a bush ‘studio’ under the trees on a hill at Bedervale. Works there for many months
The Dry Dam, Bedervale exhibited Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Begins building a new studio at the rear of the property in Braidwood
Exhibition: Dry Land Paintings, Utopia Art Sydney
Exhibition: Friends and Neighbours, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, continues collaboration with Harris and MacLeod
Exhibition: Gullies, Roads, Dry Lands and Forests, Utopia Art Sydney
Exhibition: Moist, National Gallery of Australia and touring
New studio completed with 15 metre long painting wall, enabling the painting of large narratives
Begins exploring and painting at Tantulean Creek, a narrow deep valley of small, cleared flats surrounded by steep forested ridges: more like Yarramie and very different to the open granite plateau of Braidwood
Participates in ABC filming for ‘Painting Australia’ program, featuring the Shoalhaven at Bombay
Exhibition: Truth and Likeness, National Portrait Gallery of Australia
Exhibition: View of Maitland from the Riverbank, Maitland Regional Art Gallery
Mother dies in June
Closes studio at 50 Parramatta Road, Sydney after more than 20 years occupancy
Dry Land Gully exhibited Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Screening of the series ‘Painting Australia’ on ABC Television
Visits Lake Mungo and was very struck by the ancient fossilised landscape
Travels to Europe and spends several days in Sansepulcro viewing Piero della Francesca’s The Resurrection
Exhibition: Working in the Landscape, Utopia Art Sydney
Piero della Francesca’s The Resurrection stimulates thinking about images of transformation cycles providing the basis for several bodies of work focussing on gates, fences; places of transition
Friend and moral philosopher Val Plumwood dies
S H Ervin Gallery survey exhibition, Journey through Landscape, provides an opportunity to see in one place the combined results of several years work on a number of related themes
Interviewed by Steve Lopes for article in Artist Profile magazine
Travels to Western Australia: Perth and Fremantle
Exhibition: Gateless Gate, Utopia Art Sydney
Artist Profile #6 published with JRW on the cover
Art Gallery of New South Wales purchases large work, A road a gate and a forest (from the Gateless Gate exhibition)
Presents to the House of Representatives Standing Committee regarding the Artist Resale Royalty legislation, the same day that the massive fires swept through Victoria
La Nina exhibited in the Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Visits historic outlaying property, Durham Hall. At the back of the old house, there are the remains of the original wattle and daub shack that was the first building erected c.1830s. In subsequent years, it was extended and converted into a large shed, held up and overgrown by an ancient wisteria vine. “Wandering around in the interior of the shed in the filtered greenish light I was struck by the piles of old tools, bottles and boxes covered in dust and grease and the fact that many of the tools’ usages were no longer comprehensible: a strange interior human landscape of visible metaphor for memory and history.”
Winner of the Eutick Still Life Award for Brush Fetish at the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery
Visits Mildura and Hattah Lakes in Victoria, the places where sculptor John Davis had found his subject. The drought had broken and the lakes were full of water and bird life
Visits Adelaide, McLaren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia
Exhibition: The Shed, Utopia Art Sydney
Visits Barmah on the mighty Murray River, the inspiration for Sidney Nolan’s major Riverbend works
Included in ‘Up Close and Personal: works from the collection of Dr Peter Elliott AM’, S. H. Ervin Gallery
Survey exhibition of works on paper: Space & Time: 10 Years in the Landscape, Maitland Regional Art Gallery
Many visits to the Fred Williams retrospective, National Gallery of Australia. Also attended forte-pianist Geoffrey Lancaster’s talk about the similarities between Haydn’s music and Fred Williams’s compositional structures. Setting the germ of an idea for a body of work that would become Winter in the Fire Forest
Exhibition: Site, Utopia Art Sydney
Group exhibition: Big Scope: painting and place, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery
Video interview with Allens Arthur Robinson curator in the studio
Exhibition: Winter in the Fire Forest, Utopia Art Sydney
Two concertina drawing books purchased by State Library of New South Wales
Intense fire emergency in early January in southern New South Wales. ‘Fire’ very much on the mind.
March 9: marries long-term partner
Invited to work on a property called Doughboy Hill, results of which will be exhibited as next major solo show
Visits Orange Regional Gallery in preparation for terroir big land pictures survey exhibition in March-April 2014 .
An unseasonably wet and warm autumn – very green
Much loved Orange Regional Gallery Director Alan Sisley died unexpectedly in February
Hectic March: opening of terroir big land pictures 15 March, dedicated to the memory of Alan Sisley, at Orange Regional Gallery followed by opening of new works ‘the end of all our exploring’ at Utopia Art Sydney 22 March; both exhibition ran to 27 and 26 April respectively
Preparing for two upcoming exhibitions: solo show, John R Walker: Site at Moree Regional Gallery from 4 October to 14 November and Drawing Out: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 21 November 2014 to 26 January 2015.
Welcomed in the New Year in Hoi An, Vietnam
Group exhibition: Chroma: The Jim Cobb Gift @ Orange Regional Gallery
Major solo exhibition: Here I give thanks… at The Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, curated by Glenn Barkley and opened by Andrew Sayers
Wynne Prize finalist at Art Gallery of New South Wales. Awarded Highly Commended
Group exhibition: Country and Western: Landscape re-imagined 1988-2013 @ Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville 24 July – 20 September. Coming to S H Ervin Gallery, @ National Trust Observatory Hill, Sydney 30 October to 6 December 2015.
Salon des Refuses @ S H Ervin Gallery
One month – end September to October – trip to South Australia, staying in Burra and Flinders Ranges. Particularly inspired by Red Banks Conservation Park near Burra and ‘Oratunga’ country in the Flinders Ranges. Major flooding of the Murray, Darling and Murrumbidgee river systems.
Working towards a solo show at the new Utopia Art Sydney premises; first since 2014.
‘Hay Plains’ opened on 5 August.
Returned to South Australia, via Stefano’s @ Mildura, briefly visiting Burra, staying one week at Oratunga near Blinman and then Adelaide to check out Art Gallery of South Australia’s gallery space for the Adelaide Biennial which will open 2 March 2018. Country very dry, almost no grass in Flinders, however, Burra and further south looked green and glorious.
Magnum opus, Burra Oratunga Suite, in the Adelaide Biennial ‘Divided Worlds’ at Art Gallery of South Australia from 3 March to 3 June. Off to Kyoto – first visit – surrounded by great food, gardens and shrines. Loved it. Back up to Sydney for solo exhibition, Pictures of Time Beneath, at Utopia Art Sydney opening Saturday 7 April and then back to Adelaide and Burra, SA, on Friday 13 April for a works on paper exhibition at Burra Regional Art Gallery and artist talk about the genesis of Burra Oratunga Suite work in the Adelaide Biennial. Wynne Prize finalist with West of Wilcannia II, at AGNSW from 12 May to 9 September.
July: National Gallery of Australia acquires, Six Days in Bundanon and I Give Thanks to Boyd 2001, virtually 17 years to the day that I painted it!
I’ve paid a number of visits to the Borenore region, outside Orange, staying on a farm close to the Borenore Kast reserve. And have visited Yuranigh’s grave near Molong. Yuranigh’s grave is a remarkable, possibly unique, combination of a grove of indigenous marked memorial trees and a marble gravestone for the indigenous man called Yuranigh.
A passage from Roger McDonald’s A Tree in Changing in Light has acted like a catalyst for my current work:
“We wrote philosophies, built faiths and took every kind of comfort from trees. They gave language to our existence as we put down roots, stretched our limbs, budded in infancy and were felled in old age. They were mute companions to our lives and worshiped beyond ourselves as the better part of balance and aspiration. They offered steadiness and long patience even as we failed in those. They were meeting points and sites of rough justice. They gave the idea and supplied the material for shelter. They offered an image of completion, which was an illusion, but it was enough. Theirs was a whisper in the wind to the human ear both tragic and hopeful. Civilisation grew from exploiting, destroying, venerating and looking back on them. Trees led us to ourselves and we stood against them trunk to trunk, arms upon branches, our thoughts tangled in the stars.
Because a tree bloomed seasonally we felt its body like our own. A tree stood still yet suffered change. A tree growing old grew down into itself. Trees could not heal wounds, only cover them up. Trees were magnificent survivors. Trees got used. Trees behaved erratically under stress. Trees strove to fulfill an ideal shape but were twisted out of it by pressures of existence.”
This year started with the fires which burnt all around us and so much of the east coast of Australia. It was a tough time. I have written in detail under NEWS. After a brief lull (which includes floods), COVID19 descended in early March and we have spent 10 weeks in isolation – not too hard to do in Braidwood. My exhibition, Fireground, opened on 4 July at Utopia Art Sydney 983 Bourke St, Waterloo Sydney 2017. Fireground #2 (for Matty H) 2019 was a finalist in the Wynne Prize, AGNSW.
Having re-read Eric Rolls A Million Wild Acres, we toured from Orange to the Warrumbungles, through the Pilliga and onto Mt Kaputur. Pilliga is magical, and we returned to Borenore near Orange, visiting Yuranigh’s grave.
Visited Badja in the new year, travelling through burnt-out, stark country, some areas beginning to regenerate. Four major works – Hollow Tree 2001, Memorial Grove 2018, Fireground #1 (for Bruce R) 2019 and Fireground #5 (rebirth) 2019 – included in Tree of Life exhibition at S H Ervin Gallery, Sydney. Travelled to South Australia during May to give a painting workshop at Pitcairn Station, organised by Burra Regional Art Gallery, and then returning to Oratunga, Flinders Ranges for more painting and walking. Several visits to Badja (very wet) as the COVID lockdowns increased, and returned briefly to the south coast. Memorial 2018, from the Memorial Grove series, included in the Salon des Refuses at S H Ervin Gallery.
The 2021 trip to South Australia – Pitcairn Station, near Nakara and Oratunga Station, northern Flinders Ranges – erupted in a burst of painting activity resulting in Deep Time Paintings in June at Utopia Art Sydney. Major work, Eagle Spirit, Vathiwarta 2021 was hung in the Wynne Prize and garnered terrific responses. Visited Oratunga Station, Flinders Ranges twice, the visit in October being so wet, it was almost impossible to bush walk. Visited Kristian Coulthard of Wadnayura to discuss our joint participation in a forthcoming exhibition at Samstag Museum of Art in Adelaide in May 2024.