Trish Neil

Living and working on the Central Coast, NSW.

Generational forgetting

I was listening to a BBC podcast the other day; Sophie Lake from VINE (Values In Nature and the Environment was talking about her theory of ‘generational amnesia’, whereby each generation “re-calibrates” environmental diversity according to their own childhood experiences. It really resonated with me, the way it does when your own private musings are put forward publicly by someone else. I have been thinking exactly this; that each generation learns the natural world as it is when they are children, and this becomes the benchmark by which they measure change. I remember when we first came here in 1978. Giant green tree frogs were constant visitors; every evening we could hear the ‘plop’ as they landed wetly on the deck, they were so placid, you could pick them up and they would nestle comfortably in the palm of your hand, quite filling it up. And their smaller relatives, about 2 -3 cms long, which loved to sit on the windows in the most elegant frog shapes, catching the insects drawn to the light. There would be at least half a dozen of those at any one time. Now the only green tree frogs left around here are the tiny ones that hide in the trees; the only time you are aware of them is when they call just before it rains. The giant tree frogs disappeared when our children were quite small; there is a photo below of one being introduced to our 18mnth old first child, but to the now adult children their absence is ‘normal’. Similarly – where have all the butterflies gone? – the brilliant black and white and red swallowtail butterflies, and the blue triangle butterflies, and a myriad complex patterned moths; a long-necked swamp tortoise is rare now when it used to be not uncommon. Generation by generation our countryside is depleted, and as a society we are scarcely aware of it. People shift their feet uncomfortably if you mention it even casually. They don’t want to be reminded.


Easter Scribble (for the last time I promise!)


I can’t leave this alone, it seems. Does this help? A foolish looking creature, a little crazed, definitely suffering; but then the series is called “Fools and Innocents”, so it fits. I will make a new page of the series as soon as I find the time, and they may (hopefully) make sense as a group.

Scribble #3

Proposal: that there are evanescent personae/archetypes which appear fleetingly in unexpected places, such as the in the curious markings of certain insects in particular species of tree, or in the twisted forms of tree trunks, or in half-caught glimpses and dream states. If you are careful, observant, introspective, you may, on a good day, catch these characters as they manifest.


Rock Platform with bonsai like trees


Rock Platform 1

I was wandering through the bush near where I live, looking at some aboriginal rock carvings, and came across these wonderful rock platforms. I lay down on the rock to take the first picture; the tea trees growing here are so stunted they are natural bonsais. The whole scene conveys that a lovely air of unreality that you get on your own in the bush. Well, not quite unreality, more being totally removed from everyday reality, of being in deep time rather than shallow, rushed time.

The recent rain brings the rocks alive with colour; these little runnels of water make the most beautiful abstract shapes.


Easter scribble modified.

I am wondering if other people see what I see in these scribbly bark images. It’s a matter of perception, of figure/ground differentiation; what seems figurative to me is perhaps an abstract and meaningless mess of lines to many others.
Maybe I can make it clearer like this:
This is the image:


And this is the image again. I have darkened all the ‘background’ areas, and emphasized the left ‘eye’.


Does that make it clearer? Can you see the connection with Easter? It is a peculiarity of perception that once your brain has ‘seen’ something which makes sense to it in an otherwise random pattern, especially a face, you keep seeing only that face and it looks really obvious to you – but not necessarily to anyone else. I would love some feedback on this.

Easter Scribble

Funny the things you see in a tree.

Enjoying the work of Joan Fontcuberta

 I am fascinated with the work of Joan Fontcuberta. He constantly questions our acceptance of the photograph because of its appearance of reality – yes I know everyone is aware of fakes, of  photoshopped models, etc etc, but we still tend to give  credence to photographic evidence despite that. That is to me the interesting thing about digital  post production work, that you can, as it were, paint with reality (or the appearance of it). Like this lovely creature from his Fauna series …..

His work is so alive with humour; he says, “I believe in the artist transmitting joy.” Not so much of the suffering artist here!  If you don’t know his work, I recommend the adventure. His more recent work on ‘Landscapes without memory’ is also quite beguiling. These links are just the top of the Google list, but a start.

Scribble # 2

This was one of the first of this style that I did, and is why I chose the name Fools and Innocents – he just looks like an innocent, a fool, or a clown.


Scribble for today

Scribbly bark  scribbles are the ultimate Rorschach Test of the bush! (For those unfortunates without ready access to the Australian bush, there are tiny insects which burrow under the bark of the Scribbly Gum eucalypts and leave these wonderful patterns. Each year the tree sheds most of its outer bark and reveals a new set of scribbles. Infinite variety!)  With a little help from photoshop to emphasise what I see and produce something which looks rather like an etching, here is the first of a selection of Scribbles.


So it’s not just me …

“The sandstone is the bone and root of the coast. On top of the cliff, the soil is thin and the scrub sparse. there are banksia bushes, with their sawtooth-edged leaves and dried seed cones like multiple, jabbering mouths. Against this austere grey-green, the occasional red or blue scribble of a flower looks startling. But further back to the west, the sandstone ledges slip down into the harbor, separating it into scores of inlets. In 1788 these sheltered coves were densely wooded. The largest trees were eucalypts: red gums, angophoras, scribbly gums and a dozen others. Until the late eighteenth century no European had ever seen a eucalypt, and very strange they must have looked, with their strings of hanging, half-shed bark, their smooth wrinkling joints (like armpits, elbows or crotches), their fluent gesticulations and haze of perennial foliage.”  Robert Hughes, in ‘The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding.


Or, to put it another way ………. “Someone should put underpants on those trees…” John Turier, sculptor.  (


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