Out of the Earth Ochre paintings from various regions of Australia

25 AM 7443/10
Leigh Oates Wattle Grubs 2010
Natural ochre & acrylic on Galicia linen
1230 x 1605mm

When I was a young boy I would spend a lot of time with my grandfather. He was a keen fisherman and he would search for wattle grubs to use as bait. He taught me what trees to look for when searching for grubs and what signs to look for around the trees. Any tree with frass (excrement that the grub passes when burrowing into the tree) at the base was worth looking at because this was the sign that a grub had entered the tree. The size of the grub and how far it has traveled into the tree depended on the time of year. I have shown my two sons how to find wattle grubs. Now they can pass this onto their children. This painting is a representation of the wattle grubs journey through life. The wattle grub eggs are laid on the outside of the selected tree; the eggs are represented by the white dots in the painting. From there after they hatch they burrow into the trees flesh, this is represented by the yellow ochre dots. When the grubs eat their way through the trees flesh they excrete frass which is dropped at the base of the tree. This is represented by the brown ochre dots surrounding the trees flesh. The Black Cockatoo feed on the wattle grub and this is another sign of how to find the right tree. The grubs are connected in the painting; this shows that there can be more than one grub in a tree, especially large trees. The red centre of the painting is the heart of the tree and this is surrounded by the growth rings. Under the black background the wattle seeds can be seen as the pods rot into the ground and the seeds germinate to start the cycle again.

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