I asked Zom, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and then moved to the rainforest in Australia, to tell us about what it’s like to live and paint in a place so exotic. I love what she has to say about the rainforest she now calls home.
I heard a loud slithering sound while I was working in my studio yesterday. I stopped painting and looked out the window. I saw nothing unusual. My studio is above the ground so I walked down the steps and looked underneath the floor into the shadows. Still nothing. I was probably too late.
Living in the Australian rainforest I have come to recognize the thud of the wallaby’s jump, the crunch the monitor lizard makes as it walks through the undergrowth, the rustling of the bush turkey, but slithering can only be a snake – it sounded like a big one. Which here in the rainforest means over 6 foot long. We have a lot of snakes in Australia and quite a few are deadly.
I am probably in no danger in the studio but will need to stay alert on the 20 yard walk back to the house. Snakes often hide in the bit of junk that has piled up behind the shed.
It is an interesting time of year in the subtropics of Australia where I live and work. It is mid-spring and both animals and people are on edge. The spring here is not the gentle introduction to summer that I grew up with in the northwest corner of the U.S. Here it is a violent time when cold days jump to hot and back again. It is storm season with thunder and lightning and hail big enough to seriously hurt you.
The wild animals that are part of the subtropical forest where we live are hungry and easily angered this time of year. Snakes that will slide away later in summer, this time of year are ready for a fight.
But I was more intrigued than scared. It is exciting to live so close with the animals and it is also a great privilege. The wallabies will eat your garden, the birds will wake you at 4am, the spiders can be as large as the palm of your hand, the snakes might poison you and the sharks might eat you, the ants will both bite and sting, and the leeches and ticks are probably better not mentioned.
But while I only hear the occasional human noise, I can always hear a bird calling. Everywhere I go is full of abundant life. Every foot of ground contains tiny living beings – there are so many varieties of beetles that I often see one I have never seen before. Tiny micro bats sleep above my studio door and I watch a family of wallabies every morning in our front yard. Echidnas and monitor lizards stop by. The animals are my company and constant companions. There is always something exciting to watch, whether giant black cockatoos ripping the bark off trees or a team of ants pulling apart a moth. Drama, love and death all in my front yard.
I love this! While I have absolutely no desire to share my yard with huge, poisonous snakes, it would be amazing to have so many kinds of beings to photograph and sketch from life. You can read more about Zom’s life and work here on her blog, and you can see more of her work there and on her website.
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