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Artist Dale Marsh Continues to be Inspired by Bribie’s Essence

Posted: 10am 21 Nov 2019

Artist Dale Marsh has featured Bribie in thousands of paintings since he was a boy. Here, he shares his story …

My connection with Bribie began in 1945 on my first trip to the island, when I was five years old.

That was just after the war and there were lots of gun in-placements, sandbagged places shored up for the soldiers to fight the invasions that they expected to happen.

My aunt owned a little old house in Rickman Pde behind the dunes at Woorim. It was a lovely old place – there was no electricity, no water, we operated with candles and lamps and we pumped water up from underground and used the tanks.

My aunt always encouraged me as an artist. I would take my watercolours to Bribie. The aunt and I would go off on the bicycles up to the fourth lagoon riding along the beach. She would go and catch worms and then start fishing, so we’d have something for lunch, and I’d go off and find a subject to paint.

I’d paint mainly the water, the waves coming in and the trees and the grass and the scrubby bush behind the dunes. You can see it reflected in Ian Fairweather’s work too … the rhythm, the flow of the paintings reflect the nature of the Bribie bush.

I was living in Warrandyte (Victoria) in an art community, and I always wanted to come back to Queensland, especially to Bribie because that was my sacred space.

I brought the family up in 1981, two boys and my wife, and I bought a little house at Bribie in Sparrow St and a studio in Lyrebird Lane.

It was called La Grenouillère after the title of a painting by Renoir. It means the frog pond and it did have a little pond.

David Goode appeared at my studio door one morning and he said I’ve got a project for you. He said I’m head of the chamber of commerce and we want a Bribie mural and we want it where that billboard is.

It took me and sign-writer Dig Mahr about three months. It was all voluntary, we didn’t get paid for it or anything. But we worked on it steadily, day after day.

It was there for about eight years but it was facing the western sun. Eventually it peeled off in places and had to be removed.

Then they said to me, ‘Well, what are you going to do now?’ and I said, ‘I’ll do a painting and you photograph it and turn it into a poster on vinyl and then just put it up’.

It too has now faded and the Bribie community is debating what to replace it with.

I’d prefer to do a new one. I’ve done three or four different ideas just in small paintings – studies – and I’ve done the beach and the shallows up at White Patch, but the essence of Bribie to me is in the dunes. I’m working on a design of figures running in front of the dunes, not running down the dunes, on the beach with the dunes behind them. It’s coming along quite well.

We go up to Bribie five or six times a year and we have fish and chips on the beach and walk around. I like to walk behind the dunes and remember … it all smells the same.

There’s been a lot of change but you’ve got to accept that. It’s bound to change. It won’t stay the same. The smells behind the dunes and the smell of the sea … it’s all still there.

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