The first person to call me a raconteur was a South African bloke I worked for and I just assumed he was taking the piss out of me in Afrikaans. It took me a while to learn the meaning of that word and to accept that story-telling was my calling.
I grew up in the wide-street wheat-belt towns on the edge of the Western Australian desert and, thinking back, enjoyed a level of freedom that would have most modern parents sending out a search party. One time in Kojonup, aged 11, my mate Tim and I saddled up a couple of horses for an overnight camp and slung on a pair of .22 rifles. As we rode out the gate his dad called out ‘don’t load those guns until you are gonna shoot them boys’. That was over-parenting, in the ’70’s, in the Aussie bush.
My high school mates from Katanning are all hilarious yarn-spinners and when we are all gathered I am most certainly on the bottom of the pecking order when the banter is flying; but I am the one who writes it all down.
Accepting myself as a writer has been a life-long process. Working with the people at Penguin on Shadow Warrior was a great education and also a confirmation that this was something I should carry on with. Now it’s just something that I do. It’s no different to brushing my teeth or having a cuppa in the morning.
While I can concede that underneath the sport-obsessed footy-playing boofhead exterior of my youth there lay a dormant talent to write. I can’t say the same with photography. Every bit of ability I’ve gained there has been hard earned. But I’m always amazed at the power of a single, beautiful image and get a thrill when I make one.
Looking back over my pictures and stories from the past few years, I can see two themes.
One theme is the power of nature to make us whole. Industrialization has given us amnesia. In my professional life I’ve seen the power of the healing process when you reconnect someone with their natural abilities and it seems that nature contains a subliminal code for this. You can only bullshit your own nature for so long and as humans on mother earth, we’ll ignore that code at our peril.
Related to this is the idea of ordinary inspiration. Sharp-suited, big-smiling, self-help gurus have always left me a bit cold. When I’ve been on the bones of my arse and really struggling, I’ve looked to the example of real people who’ve come from the other side of advantage to make a life of their own design.
So this page is where I do my art. Using pictures and words to tell stories that I hope will do some good.