Dragons and Damsels by Graeme Buckley


Dragonflies and Damselflies (Family Odonta) have held a fascination for me since I was a child. Their bright colours and connection with water proved an irresistible lure as I struggled to come to terms with my first SLR camera. Then I learned to paint. For years I concentrated on the subject that had been the primary motif of artists in most ages and cultures except where expressly forbidden by religious decree, the human figure. My style was modernism, the style of my times, the twentieth century.

My painting has been changing lately. The pictures are getting smaller and the mark-making more constrained. I’m afraid I am beginning to conform. I have got old, even as modernism has got old. Picasso’s les Demoiselles d’ Avignon is a hundred and ten years old this year. Even de Kooning’s Woman is a respectable sixty five years old. The shock of the new has been replaced by the shock of the geriatric. It is hard to maintain the angst in the face of Victorian mediocrity.

When I was young there was a standing joke “Welcome to Queensland. Please set your watches back fifty years.” We’ve regressed from there, or at the very least not progressed. Coal power is still seen as the way of the future, and a V8 race is Townsville’s signature event. We don’t know where we’re going, we might be going nowhere, or to hell in a hand-basket, but burning fossil fuel is sure to get us there faster.

I have been involved with Creekwatch for the past two years. Visiting the local creeks every week put me back in touch with Dragonflies and reignited my interest in these colourful insects. I started doing small paintings as exercises and soon had an exhibition ready.

Unlike many of my earlier exhibitions, Dragons and Damsels has no political agenda. I am not trying to make a statement or force anyone to think. They are pretty pictures, domestic in scale, and should not offend anyone.

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The three wise men

artists Graeme Buckley, Vincent Bray and Alan Valentine at Gallery 48


Three of Townsville’s noteworthy artists at the opening of Graeme’s exhibition, Dragons and Damsels, which is on at Gallery 48, 2/48 The Strand, Townsville until June 30.  Gallery 48 is open Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and at other times by appointment.

Pictured from right to left: Graeme Buckley, Vincent Bray, Alan Valentine

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The Groovin Grub waits to takes flight

The groovin’ grub is dressed in red.

The groovin’ grub is out of this world.

The groovin grub waiting to be lifted to the roof of the tent

The groovin grub waiting to be lifted to the roof of the tent

The 10 metre caterpillar that I was paid to facilitate the creation of by Umbrella Studios and which was funded by the Groovin the Moo festival waits to be lifted to just under the roof of the tent. Eighty people worked on the creation of this mighty grub and it took over 600 hours. It is made from chicken wire and papier mache. It was transported in three pieces in a removal van and then joined together on site. It took a 10 hour day and a lot of people power to move, join and then suspend her.

We all hold our breath as the grub starts to rise.

The grooving grub is loaded into the removal van.




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The Groovin’ Grub

A group working on a papier mache caterpillar

The Groovin’ caterpillar takes shape

Umbrella Studio Inc has hired me to facilitate the building of a 10 metre papier-mache and chicken wire caterpillar for the Groovin’ the Moo festival next month. Dozens of people have participated in the building process.

One important aspect of a project like this is the community interaction that happens. It’s fascinating to listen to the wide range of conversations occurring as people glue bits of paper to the chicken wire base. Many of them have never been involved in a community art project. We’ve had participants of all ages, from young children to retirees, taking part.

This week, after attending seven Saturday afternoon sessions some of the group finally got a chance to start painting. Because we wanted this to be a fun project, we haven’t set any limitations on what the group can paint. So far, there’s a screaming caterpillar, various insects, and a flower, among other things.

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Past in the Present

A photo and painting of Ross Cr as seen from Palmer St

Looking from Palmer St across Ross Ck

My work and the accompanying photo at the Townsville T150 Anniversary Celebrations Past in the Present which is on at the Sylvia Ditchburn Fine Art Gallery until 2nd October. This is an exhibition of heritage photos and current paintings of Townsville scenes.

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Roving Artists at Cotters Market

Roving artist Bulletin 30 May 2016Today, Prudence Terry and I made page 10 of the Townsville Bulletin. We are among several artists employed as roving artists by Townsville City Council’s gallery services as part of their promotion for the Glencore Percival Portrait Painting Prize at Perc Tucker Regional Art Gallery and the DUO Magazine Percival Photographic Portrait Prize at Pinnacles Art Gallery. In this picture, we’ve been hired to draw free portrait sketches at Cotters Market.

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Graeme’s third novel, Jailbait, is now available at amazon.com. To find out more about the book and to read the chapter go to his blog site at Graeme Buckley Author Blog

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Last days to see our exhibition

Our exhibition, Benthos Illumination, is coming down on Monday, 10th April. Sunday is your last chance to see it and the other two excellent exhibitions accompanying ours, Tribal Odyssey and Fragments of Moments, so I urge you to visit Umbrella  StudioSponge-Garden_web this week, if you haven’t already been. Graeme and I would like to send a big thank you to the special people who purchased our work.

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Waterlily, Tyto

Now that the frantic preparation to get our exhibition, Benthos Illuminated, hung at Umbrella Studios is over and we have time to ourselves at last, we went with a friend to Tyto Wetlands in Ingham. I took this photo, which was a happy accident, but needless to say, I am fairly pleased with it.


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Benthos Illumination

Hope you can make it along.benthos invite

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