The Pilliga exhibition at Weswal Gallery

New exhibition opens 20 September at Weswal Gallery in Tamworth and continues until 15 October.


For more than 18 months, I have been exploring the Pilliga Scrub, trying to understand and connect with an incredibly diverse landscape that covers more than half a million wild acres.

My work is based on my observance, understanding and connection to the natural environment and usually evolves from painting the landscape that surrounds me and what I am familiar with. I only had a vague knowledge of the area of ironbark and cypress pine forests, national parks and conservation areas that combine to make up the area broadly known as ‘The Pilliga’. To create a new body of work, I set out to investigate this unfamiliar landscape to understand better what makes this place so special.

It began as a personal journey, looking back at my family history and the connection to the area around the Pilliga. Many years ago, my great-grandmother was interviewed about her young life growing up on the edge of the Pilliga Scrub at a little place called Cuttabri, located between Wee Waa and the township of Pilliga.  Born in 1901, she talked about her experiences as a young woman, born in a bark hut to an aboriginal mother; she spoke of floods, fires, bushrangers, wild horses, bush food and medicines, the people, and her life in the bush. I found it all so fascinating when I listened to the recordings many years later.

I have always been passionate about conservation and the environment. The recent approval of a coal seam gas project in the Pilliga and plans to drill 850 gas wells in this unusual semi-arid woodland deeply saddened me. This ancient and unique place teems with wildlife and is a biodiversity hotspot like no other. It feeds water into the Great Artesian Basin, an essential life support system for much of inland Australia.

I hope the paintings from the Pilliga series convey my joy in exploring the beauty and uniqueness of the forest – an ode to an incredible place that should be treasured and protected for generations to come.

Take a listen to an interview about the exhibition with ABC Radio – 
New England North West Breakfast with Kristy Reading
Broadcast Monday 25 September 2023

(Full broadcast > New England North West Breakfast – ABC listen )