Two-Moon Valley


The significance of the didgeridoo as an earth totem is profound in Aboriginal culture. Surely this instrument, if any, could call into life the resonant whispers of a sacred spring. The portrait is of the virtuoso player Steven Cragg.


On the festival circuit during the 1990s, the didgeridoo was played and hawked by everyone and their dog. Mostly this was to the detriment of a ‘roots’ fascination with the pure Aboriginal creation, but there were exceptions. Steven Cragg was one of them, a serious devotee and virtuoso player, and I sat at his feet for a few good sessions at Reading’s Womad and Bristol’s Ashton Court festivals during that decade.

His solo playing was augmented by amplification and electronic delay effects creating a haunting accompaniment. For hours afterwards my thorax continued to resonate from the sub-sonics; it didn’t take long for a painting to materialise in my mind.

I wanted to express the totem power of the Didgeridoo; the elemental ability to key in to core earth resonances. Resonance was the key – and a standing wave on water would do beautifully – so the Druid sacred spring came into being.

The landscape appeared on a walk in the woods around Swiss valley Clevedon; the anthropomorphic rocks, the vertiginous drop and those long spindly pine trees just demanded to be painted.

The title ‘Two Moon Valley’ is from Jack London (one of my kindred spirits). I think it was the name of his ill-fated ranch.

The painting was done very quickly; first drawn directly with a freehand brush and only a scrappy sketch for layout.

Height: 58"
Width: 46"
Medium: Oil On Canvas
Year: 1992