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23 January 2017


My exhibition Excursions and Adventures at Freehand Gallery has proved so popular the gallery is keeping it up for another week. They're open every day until next Sunday, 29th January 2017, so you haven't missed your chance to see this painting before it goes off to its new home:

Bandwagon; 77 cm x 102 cm; oil on canvas
And you can admire this one (it's still available):

Eyes Of The Forest 76 cm x 60 cm oil on canvas  

Freehand Gallery, 212 Elizabeth St., Hobart, Tasmania
open daily. Exhibition finishes close of business Sunday 29 January 2017

gallery website:

Interview with the Artist

 "Elizabeth Barsham paints incredible scenes combining familiar Tasmanian landscapes with parades of fantastical creatures. ABC Producer Joel Rheinberger asked her when she first put brush to paper"


14 January 2017

Excursions and Adventures 

Friday 13th – the only date to open an exhibition of new Tasmanian Gothic paintings.
I'm pleased to say the evening went very well; lots of friendly people and some nice red dots

Exhibition title: Excursions and Adventures
Many thanks to Comrad Xero, musician, songwriter and all-round talented person, in this instance an apparently disembodied voice emanating from beneath a dark veil, who spoke at the opening.

Several people have asked for a transcript and the author has kindly sent me a copy. Here it is.


When I think of Gothic, I think of those structures put up by late Middle Age builders - stone by stone. They enclosed a space yet to become sacred - reaching for a better Eternity. Here are dark and mysterious recesses. Here are Crypts. Here, the underworld of these spaces hold their own significance. These spaces are transformative - all sort of creatures live here.

When I think of Gothic, I think of Percy B. Shelly and his crowd, sitting around a fire telling horrifying tales of ‘different possibilities’ - of resurrections. Hearts beating in anticipation of the coming next word - how will it drop? Conjuring visions that could lift you or slam you down.
I think of Percy Shelley facing off with the gale force winds of Italian beaches….

Oh, wild west wind,
thou breath of autumns’ being,
thou from whose unseen presence
the leaves, dead are driven,
like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing”
(Ode to the West Wind)

When I think of Gothic I think of Germany, of Caspar David Friedrich standing on that precipice, looking down into a sea of mist, fog and cloud - alone - high in the mountains - a solitary figure.

I think of early film noir - the silent film - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari where duality between the bright and dark sides of our nature is played. Where the sets and the lighting exaggerated the ‘chiaroscuro’ technique of the Mannerist period of art … adding ‘the unseen’ as an element.

I think of The Tale of Ruby Rose a film based on a Tasmanian story told by an old woman - Mrs. Miles of Mole Creek Valley. It is a tragic dark tale of a young woman living alone in a hut in the Highlands, waiting for her husband to come back - but he has died. She waited alone for four years. Four long years, alone, in this wilderness. The character Ruby, begins to create her own world, it comes out of her interaction with the landscape and its flora and fauna. She fears the night - ‘darkness is following me.’ She layers flour on her face to resist it.

All these artists, these builders, these film-makers, these writers create spaces for us to inhabit. Spaces where we find shelter from the mundanity of Consume - Work - Die.

When I think of Gothic, I think of musicians who take us there in an instant. The organist of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, one Ash Wednesday evening - who played the dirgiest music that filled that great stone enclosure with swirling sound leaving me in anticipation as if on a ledge - a precipice.
I think of music of bands like ‘Dead can Dance’ - ‘SPK’ - ‘The Sisters of Mercy' . . . 

Hey, now, hey now now now….sing this corrosion to me . . .

When I think of Gothic, I am slammed in the face with the spookiness that inhabits the Tasmanian Landscape. You may take a trip up Kunyani on a beautiful day, breathe in the cold sweet fresh air, stand there like Caspar David Friedrich - and take in the vista of human existence below. You may see Sisyphus coming up towards the summit, you may certainly feel that you have reached the realm of the Gods - but then, decide to go for a stroll from Thark Ridge to Devils Throne and never be seen again!

That dark blue of spaces, that jagged rock landscape, the hostility of a burnt out pine forest, where nothing grows there again naturally.

The isolation of the lonely places that shaped peoples' lives in the past and still continues to shape ours. Here, ironically, on this heart shaped Island a dark, eerie, cold and bracing history, climate and landscape, has infused our imaginations - and we do embrace that darkness, we know the clouds, the mists that hang heavy in the valleys, we know the colours of winter that pervade the recesses of the voids as we drive past them - we know spooky.

Elizabeth Barsham comes from this place,
this landscape,
this history,
this knowing.
Observing the details of this inheritance, Elizabeth creates unique works that interrogate the haunting and unusual aspects of this Landscape on this Island.

When I look at Elizabeth’s paintings, I feel like I have just woken up in a beautifully strange and a totally new world, where every detail, every object - needs to be investigated and rediscovered and where surprises flourish in abundance. Welcome to Tasmanian Gothic.

Written and delivered by Comrad Xero at the opening of
Excursions and Adventures”
an exhibition of paintings
by Elizabeth Barsham
Friday 13 January , 2017.
(World Goth Day) Exhibition ends 22 Jan.

10 November 2016

As Far Away as Possible

As you probably know, there was some sort of political event on the other side of the Pacific today. Definitely a day to avoid all forms of electronic media, so I headed for the most distant point I could think of.

Hobart is, of course, Australia's southernmost capital city.

If you drive about 130 kilometres south of Hobart you will come to 

From here you walk another ten kilometres or so to South Cape Bay and from there you can see the southernmost tip of Tasmania

South East Cape from South Cape Bay

There is no television nor radio. Absolutely no internet access or wifi; not even mobile phone coverage. A perfect escape. 

We had good weather – warm, but not too hot, and an easy walk through beautiful and varied terrain in congenial company. What more could you want?

Here are some photographs I took down there last year. Forget about politics and enjoy.  

Lion Rock - today's destination; we didn't climb Coal Bluff this time

view from Coal Bluff

South Cape Bay and South East Cape from Coal Bluff

South East Cape from Coal Bluff

03 November 2016


I've returned from the Big North Island, where walks in the ACT consisted of climbing steep hills covered with dry eucalypt forest. Today's walk couldn't have been more different: so nice to be back in the familiar surroundings of a Tasmanian rainforest. Of course, a problem with rainforests is – rain. Optimistically ignoring an unfavourable weather forecast we drove all the way in to the southern forests to the start of the Nevada Peak walk.

Actually, our intended destination was not Nevada Peak but the slightly closer, not so lofty Wetpants Peak, probably named by Tom Stevens of the Forestry Department who surveyed the area in the mid-twentieth century.
You can look up the reference here: - just type in the place name. And we didn't drive quite to the carpark, either:

I thought you might like to hear what  the stream beneath the washed-out bridge sounds like:


We had to walk the last half kilometre. 

To our surprise – and theirs – we encountered three snakes curled up together on the side of the road; surely it was not warm or sunny enough for snakes to be out? Of course, by the time I disentangled my camera they were retreating into holes between the rocks, but you can see bits of two of them.

Leaving the carpark, where our cars weren't. Sorry about the rainspot on the lens.

After a short walk on a waterlogged corduroy road we reached the beginning of the track proper.

Depending, of course, on your definition of "track".

morning tea

We began a climb where negotiating the stretches of mud, large pools of water and flowing streams that passed as a track was varied by scrambling over, crawling under and balancing on fallen logs in various sizes and stages of decay. With both hands occupied grabbing vegetation for support, photography was out of the question. Besides, as we gained altitude the weather became more and more inclement, with rain and an icy wind. Through the rain and low clouds we glimpsed snow on Nevada Peak.  

By the time we reached Woolleys Tarn we were tired, wet and cold and had had quite enough, thank you. There were traces of snow there, too.

This is Wetpants Peak. You can see a couple of waterfalls to the left of the picture.

Nobody evinced the slightest interest in climbing it. Even my camera was feeling the damp and refused to work any more. 

So we found a relatively sheltered spot in the forest among some impressive pandani and ate a soggy, hurried lunch before retracing our steps.

The end of a perfect day

and we didn't even GET to Wetpants Peak!

12 October 2016

A week in the ACT - Gibraltar Peak

Every Wednesday three of the ACT walking clubs have a combined walk; this week two Hobart Walking Club members went along as well.

The walk co-ordinator signs the book at Dalsetta car park in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve before we set out on a walk up the fire trail to Gibraltar Peak.

A bike path leads some of the way upward before we reach a steep fire trail. That's Gibraltar Peak there, right in the middle of the photo.

A feature of this walk is an extensive area of  Xanthorrhoea or grasstree. Lots of them flowering after a fire
We made a detour to Wallaby Rocks. There is no signpost, so you have to know where you're going. These rocks were used as shelters by the Ngunnawal people, and have special significance. A discreet notice by the first overhang welcomes visitors, and asks that we respect the site.

Suitably impressed, we trudged up to the top of the hill. There we rested for morning tea, with a nice view of the Brindabellas, before picking our way down a steep gravelly slope to the foot of the path up to Gibraltar Rocks.

At the beginning of the path a sign informs us that
Gibraltar Rocks is revered by Ngunnawal people as a sacred men's site – a place of teaching for the initiated and a site of cultural lore  . . .  Campfires would have been lit at Gibraltar Rocks to send a message to people entering Ngunnawal Country that the senior men were in residence and the teaching or lore was taking place.

 In 2012 a new track to Gibraltar Peak was opened. It includes these nice granite steps that lead you all the way up.

Brindabellas from the path up Gibraltar Peak
 There appears to have been some burning-off done in patches here and there. We encountered several burnt areas

This is the spot for a view

and this is the view.

Off there in the distance we could just make out the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station

There are still these rocks towering above us, waiting to be explored.

A narrow passage between them

– and this is what we just walked under!

the view from the other side is well worth it.
 Rocks explored and views admired, we descended by the new walking track. First we encountered this neat viewing platform.

A very nice, well-built track zig-zags downhill between boulders and rocky outcrops.

charred logs make a stark contrast with the light-coloured granite gravel

After a lunch-stop at the Mt Eliza saddle, where there is a nice circular picnic table, we had a short downhill walk into cleared land and back to our cars.

Another very pleasant walk - great scenery, easy (if slightly steep) walking, fine cool weather and congenial company. What more could a girl want?