The Devil's head rests on a riverbank rock.
A precipitous path winds down the face of honeycombed cliffs. Unseen marsupials and mysterious serpents have left tracks in the sand where flesh-eating beasts retire to their lairs. Cockatoos the colour of death perch in dry branches. Through a break in the forest canopy far below you catch a glimpse of water.
The rock wall to your left is eroded and crumbling. For millennia onslaughts of water and wind have weathered the soft, golden sandstone into extravagant caverns and hollows, creating a fantastic place of wonder. Shapes shift with the shadows, becoming faces, giant figures, impossible animals.
|Nature Walk - oil on canvas 91 cm x 122 cm|
When you reach the valley floor it is cool and dark, a tangle of moss-covered boulders, fallen trees, hip-high ferns and trailing lichen, rotting logs, earth-stars and unfamiliar fungi. This is the Bluff River Gorge. Supernatural creatures, spirits of tree and river and rock, haunt this place.
I laid out my canvas on All Hallows Eve, when ancient beings emerge to commune with the owls and microbats and Tasmanian devils, and painted a picture of what I may have seen.
And the Devil's head? I found the little polished ivory skull once as I was crossing the river. After admiring it, I placed it back among the rocks in its bed of soft green moss. On my next visit, months later, skull and moss were gone, washed away in the winter floods.
*High quality limited edition prints of this painting may be ordered from Nolan Art Gallery, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart https://www.nolanart.com.au/