I am now at the halfway point of my artist residency at Cossack historic town, and I dare say that I’ll remember these last couple of weeks for the rest of my days.

Karijini Road Trip 7th of July

After trekking around Karijini for a week with my little family then a short stay in Karratha, we had a great opportunity to soak up the unique landscape, we were blown away by the ever changing colours and shapes of the land as you hit the long dirt roads.
It was amazing to have shared this part of this trip with my wife (Ellen) and daughter (Poppy) as Ellen and I have been wanting to get to see the Pilbara since we first met over 12 years ago.

Cossack Residency 15th of July

When the residency started, I had to send my girls home to Perth, had a quick meeting with City of Karratha, grabbed some provisions and then it was straight to Cossack.
That short drive from Karratha to Cossack felt electric, I was absorbing every detail on the way with anticipation and excitement.
When I arrived, I already had felt so welcomed by everyone here and even though the place was a buzz in preparation for the big show, it was still so very quiet and peaceful.
I settled in very quickly and was very eager to find my artistic direction for the stay. I’ll admit that I am a bit of a nester when it comes to my studio space, so I spent some time getting everything set up.
The one thing I did find very challenging was the overwhelming amount of inspiration I had gained from the area and our road trip, I actually found myself getting clouded and overthinking the preconception of the works.
I decided to let go and and seek it out organically while enjoying the next few days. I was then joined by my Father in law (Mack) at Cossack, who has an extensive knowledge of the area specialising in shipwrecks. We spent some days on little road trips and checking out the sites. This had helped free up my mind and gain much more clarity, if there is one thing I have learned from Mack it is to sit back for a moment, observe and not fight the situation.

Burrup Tour 19th of July

The City of Karratha had organised for me to attend the Burrup rock art tour with Clinton Walker of Ngurrangga tours, a very down to earth and knowledgeable local man!
I got to spend the morning with the Judges (Stotmie Mills, Jane King and Dr Sam Leach) learning so much about the rock art, land and rich culture/history of the Ngarluma people.
To witness these ancient archives illustrated through the red rock terrain was truly breathtaking. You feel a great sense of connection to look upon the data base of information that links us to this precious history that tends to predate beyond our comprehension. I had taken so much more inspiration with me from that place, but still decided to play with some ideas for the next couple of days

The Big Night 20th of July

It was time to kick back and get ready for the big night. Crews were coming from everywhere getting all the gear sorted for the opening, I decided it was best to keep out of everyone’s way and chill out for the day. I knew things would get a little hectic for me in the next few weeks, also I started to feel a little unwell and was losing my voice, so best to rest up while I can.

As the sun drifted away, the crowds began to arrive, being greeted by the beautifully curated late afternoon setting. I couldn’t believe the amount of people attending and the transformation of the little quiet ghost town, into hive of ambient artistic energy, with so many artists, supporters and sponsors attending from all around.

As the winning announcements were unfolding I was very surprised to hear my named get announced for a highly commended award in the works on paper category, this was such an honour to receive this and I was also thrilled to find out later that my work had been purchased. Seeing the sales desk get flooded with enthusiastic buyers was a real treat to witness, it is very heart warming to see so many people keen to support the arts. I would like to congratulate everyone for a very successful night!

Before we knew it, the town had vacated like clock work, and as quickly as it all began it was back to its quiet old self, it was a wonderful way to reflect on an amazing night.

Family Day 21st of July

I thought the opening night was busy... then comes family day!
The amount of people coming to enjoy festivities seemed endless, there was loads of activities, entertainment and great food vans,
My day was full up with community drawing workshops and was great to meet so many local talented people. But by this time I had completely lost my voice.

Mack flew back to Perth and I managed to make it through the day mostly on miming instructions, I was very great full grateful for everyone’s patience, they were all so very understanding.

After the classes finished up I had developed an uncontrollable cough and needed to rest.

The Changing Wind 22nd of July

This is a day I’ll never forget. After being completely immersed in the beauty, life and colour of the Pilbara, I was about to experience the other side of the coin, that most us tourists won’t experience while passing through.

As the night approached I started to have a little bit of trouble breathing with this uncontrollable cough, I decided to make some calls to find that my best option was to pop into the local hospital, as all the medical clinics were closed or fully booked for the next few days.

The local nurses were great and took good care of me but the one thing about this hospital is that there is no Doctor on site. That was hard for a city boy like me to comprehend, you through throw a stone in Freo and you’ll most likely hit a doctor. They managed to get a hold of a Doc based in Sydney to chat over the phone, they put me on steroids, sorted me out with a puffer and I was good to go. They had me to pop into Karratha Health Campus for X-rays the next morning just to check everything was ok with my lungs, thankfully all was good.

I was in no real danger and everything improved shortly after taking the meds, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about how remote this place is and how alone you could feel if you’re in trouble, although so mesmerisingly beautiful, this place can be harsh landscape claiming the unfortunate.

As I started to grasp this state of mind, I felt a strong direction for my series of works and am now compelled to draw inspiration from the frailty of my remote surroundings.

When I walk around exploring and observing this precious place, I can’t help but feel a deep sorrow that has seeped into the land and it can leave you feeling a sense of vulnerability.
There is loss and loneliness hiding in among the vibrant colour schemes and I will endeavour to embrace these emotions in this body of work, in hope that my efforts and acknowledgment could offer some healing, as I feel we all do when we develop a better understanding for these delicate issues.


Now with this strong direction in mind, I am in full production mode, I am drawing away in the studio most days from 10am to 3pm, so please feel free to pop in to see my progress and also check out the stunning artwork in this years Cossack Art Awards.

I would love to thank the City of Karratha, Rio Tinto WA and the Cossack Art awards for this life changing opportunity

Ross Potter