There is no rhyme or reason to this design – it came to me one afternoon on my way home from work, when my path at the causeway was blocked by a large water buffalo. I’d been trying to decide what to do with a buffalo – suddenly the idea arrived and demanded to be executed immediately. A deep bow to both the feral water buffalo and Andy Warho and, a nod to the NT News, Bovine Monroe is simply for fun.
Do cowdroids dream of clockwork buffalo?
This is my first attempt at a steampunk design. I’d been wanting to do one for a long time, but I wanted it to be distinctly Australian. A customer at my market stall one day once told me it was ‘the most Northern Territory design she’d ever seen’. Happy.
The name, of course is a riff on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the Philip K Dick novel that is the basis of the cult favourite film Bladerunner.
little ol’ cricket bugs on fire
We moved out to Darwin River early in the dry season and our house had no back doors and was missing a wall in the lounge room. The insects streamed in. The bush caught fire all around us as we now know it does every year and the house was suddenly full of black jumping critters. It was as if they had ridden in on the fire.
Green Ant March/Black Ant Invasion
Green ants build nests in trees and swarm over you when you brush past their tree. And they’re not above biting. And yet, most Territorians seem to have a deep affection for this busy creature.
Black ants don’t seem to invoke the same kind of appreciation. You just want them to stay away from you and your picnic.
Green tree frog
Green tree frogs sing rousing choruses in the rain, so loud at times you can hardly hear yourself speak. But that’s ok with me.
Striped rocket frog
Striped rocket frogs with their pointy noses sit on lily leaves. They eggs in our lily pond and the dragonflies come to visit.
The blue-winged kookaburra is the Top End’s version of this iconic bird. Like most Territorians, it’s a non-conformist and its laugh sounds nothing like its southern cousins. I had no idea what kind of bird might be making such a raucous ruckus in the bush when we first moved to our rural property. I imagined some enormous curious creature and was astounded to discover the source of the sound. (You can hear it here.)
Brightly coloured dragonflies and damselflies hover over water, whether it’s bright blue or muddy brown. I designed this print to be lino printed and I hope one day that I can handprint some.
Lilies are omnipresent in lagoons and billabongs across the Top End, making these places even more beautiful. Dragonflies, frogs and turtles can be found in abundance perched on lily pads or wending through long stalks beneath the water. Largely inspired by the lilies that run along the front of the dingo enclosure at the Territory Wildlife Park, the lilies in this design sometimes hide little pig nose turtles, while dragonflies hover and land between the flowers.
I was rather taken with these little fish in the aquarium at the Territory Wildlife Park. They live in freshwater streams and swamps in northern areas of Australia and in New Guinea.
just a fish
This design languished on my hard drive for some time before resolving in a riot of blues.
Just for fun.
Yanos the octopus
I was set the challenge of working a Minoan octopus into a repeat pattern, and I wasn’t going to let it beat me!
Full Metal Seahorse
Full Metal Seahorse, my second foray into steampunk, is an ode to Southern Yorke Peninsula, home to seahorses, leafy seadragons and many an historic shipwreck. It is also a hat tip to a fearless sailor I have met who traverses the globe with a compass and a sextant.
This design was done back in around 2020 but the wiggly background waves are based on a design I carved into a lino block in the early 1990’s. The block has disappeared but fortunately I had a piece of handprinted fabric that I could recreate it from.
Inside my skin
Noses pressed against the glass at the Territory Wildlife Park aquarium, I have joined unknown children, more than once, gazing at the enormous crocodile suspended in his tank. The rough skin intrigued me, mountain ranges of tough leathery hide, irregular and strange. As I began to draw, semi-abstract shapes emerged, the topography of a skin I do not wish to climb into!
Just because they’re freshies, don’t think their bite won’t hurt!
Geckos hang upside down off the ceiling. They shuffle through the leaves, scuttle quickly over open ground. They live in trees and on windowsills, under my sewing room bench and I even found one hiding in my market gear early one Saturday morning – a long way from home. I hope he/she is coping ok with the move to town..
This design is based on a painting I did while living in Central Australia.
Mr Frilly Dandy
He really is a dandy, that Mr Frilly, with his big ruffle. How could I not do a steampunk design based on this funny lizard in his Sunday best?
I’m lucky enough to see them sometimes, driving home. They’ll often lie flat and pretend to be dead. If provoked they can raise their frill. Most times though, they just bolt up a tree out of reach.
Northern Spotted Quoll
The Northern Spotted Quolls are endangered and are now absent from much of their former range. Cats, dingoes and foxes are mostly to blame. The males only live for a single year and the oldest known female reached the grand old age of three.
They are small, and cute, and it was a delight to meet one up close at the Territory Wildlife Park.
The Upside Down
Black flying foxes
Flying foxes and bats are champions of biodiversity, spreading seeds far and wide and fertilising as they go. They chatter and carry on and their poo smells funny but I think they’re adorable.