Exmouth Aboriginal Art Solar Eclipse

My trip to Exmouth for the Solar Eclipse!

I am still on a huge high from the week that was the Total Solar Eclipse in Exmouth!! Just before midday on the 20th April Exmouth and surrounding areas went into total eclipse with partial eclipse experienced across Western Australia. It has been a big week for not only me but my family that came along for the ride. I have heavily relied on my family this week for support as I really put myself out there and sold my artwork at my very first market stall as part of the Dark Sky Festival in Exmouth. My family also took time out of their own busy lives to set up a stall for me in Onslow. It was a big week both mentally and physically with the set up each day and the nerves around sharing my work for the first time in a very public setting.

My Dad Larry and daughter Marlee accompanied me to Exmouth for the week. I had to keep stopping and reminding myself of how lucky I was to have these two with me. There would not be many (if any) opportunities for just the three of us to hang out and spend quality time together so this has been a really special time for the three of us. We spent our drive to Exmouth talking about Dad’s child hood and his years going through school in the lead up to his days playing in football in the WAFL. Dad was born in Tammin and at the age of 13 was given a scholarship to attend Guildford Grammar in Perth. He was one of only 4 Aboriginal boys at the time to go to the school. I have known some stories about Dad’s life growing up but I saw the 5-hour car ride as a good opportunity to ask lots of questions and really gain an understanding of his life in those earlier years. Since having kids myself, I really want to be able to share the stories and experiences my parents have had with them. It is really important to know where we have come from and to know that the work my parents put in over their own lives have allowed us to have the opportunities we have now. I am so grateful we had this one on one time to sit and really talk. I look forward to sharing more about my Dad’s story over the next few months.  

My Dad with his painting I made for him. 

The long talks on the drive down to Exmouth from my home in Karratha also helped ease my nerves as I was anxious in the lead up to this event. The weeks prior I became extremely hyper focused on being prepared… As per normal, I over thought every single little detail. Down to the seating arrangements for my camping chairs ha! How ridiculous. It was for the best though as being prepared put my nerves at ease. Putting myself out there with my artwork and my life in general has been hard in some ways but really empowering in other ways. Really put yourself out there and there is nothing left to hide - so this was it for me! Sharing things online is one thing, you have the safety of the computer screen but having it on full display for literally people all over the world to come and judge and critique was a scary thought!

On our arrival into Exmouth, we were expecting to see people in the thousands. We did arrive a couple of days early and although it was definitely busy, it wasn’t exactly apocalyptic like the media had led us to believe it would be… Seeing’s we bought enough food and supplies to last up an entire month, we didn’t really have much else to do once we set up our camp site.. So we found the closest pub for a drink and we did a cheers’ to spending the week of the solar eclipse together. Art and eclipse aside we wanted to make the most of our time together. We really did make the most of the time.. a lot of time.. every waking and sleeping minute together as we shared a small caravan. We also had some really hectic card games and competitive tetris tournaments (both of which my Dad was the champ).

The days following this nice quiet afternoon at the pub all kind of mash into one. Dragging my items down to the park to set up everyday and pack up every night was a lot. I could not have done this trip without them as much as I like to think I can do it all myself. If I was alone, I would have failed at the first hurdle of getting my gazebo off the roof of my car. Marlee and Dad have helped me so much this week and made this such a fun trip, I feel like the luckiest person to have them. They are two of the most genuine and generous people I know, I really am very lucky!

There are two things that I wanted to specifically include in this blog, neither of which I have mentioned yet. First being the actual main reason we were in Exmouth – The Solar Eclipse!! We couldn’t decide where to watch the eclipse, so I did what I normally do and over thought what to do, changed my mind 20 times, panicked and then at the last minute decided to not go anywhere and stay where we were at Federation Park. I didn’t really know what to expect from the eclipse, I knew the whole event would only last a couple of minutes. I was not prepared for how amazing it actually was! In the lead up to it, the atmosphere completely changed.. Marlee described it perfectly saying, it wasn’t dark like night time but dark like when you turn the dimmer down on the light.. It was a bit eery. Then finally, the time had come and the eclipse went into totality. It instantly went dark and there was a cold chill. The birds all flew out of the trees and I heard the crickets and other insects went mad. You didn’t need your glasses to look at the eclipse, you could stare straight at it and see the moon in front of the sun with the light and colours being thrown from around the edges. In real life, it actually looks just like what you see in the photos but 1000 times better. It was incredible!!! Even the DJ in the park playing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ on repeat for 4 hours could not get me down. It was seriously unreal, I would do it again anyday and if I give up my life to become a full time eclipse chaser, you know why.

This photograph of the eclipse in totality is from Ash Kara photography. Ash was set up next to me at the markets. Ash's images are amazing and this photo from under the water during the eclipse at Ningaloo is awesome (Ash has facebook and instagram too under Ash Kara Photography). 

The solar eclipse in totality in Exmouth next to my commemorative painting. 

Another major high from my week was my experiences meeting the hundreds of people I was lucky enough to speak to. Lucky and grateful are two themes that are prevalent in this blog however, there is no other way to say it. I feel so incredibly lucky and so grateful to meet the people I did!! I got to meet people from all over the world! I met people who are full time eclipse chasers (that I may see in Mexico next year haha!). I had people purchase my art from all over the world. I was at the post office in Exmouth yesterday sending some work to America. I had kids coming and using their pocket money to buy gifts for their family, I had people buying gifts for friends. I had people taking commemorative pieces home because they wanted to have something to remind them of this week. I heard stories of peoples travels around Australia. Due to my first blog about juggling my family/work/art and my struggles over the years with anxiety, I also got to have some very real and raw conversations with others about ‘normal’ life in general. I met a lovely lady who received one of my pieces as a 50th birthday present the week before, it was so lovely to speak with her. I met some amazing business owners who will hopefully very soon be stocking my products across stores in Perth. I also got to meet some awesome locals and I have left some of my work behind in some Exmouth stores and cafes - Let me know if you spot any! 😊 I also met other local businesses including two Aboriginal business’s Waagay Designs based in Karratha and Chaotic Craft based in Exmouth (you can find both on Facebook!). Every single person I met and spoke with were incredibly supportive and kind. Even people that may not have purchased anything always had beautiful and encouraging words which truly mean just as much.

Marlee's new earrings from Chaotic Craft in Exmouth.

If anything, I hope that sharing my own experiences, will encourage others to step out and do the same. Whether it be art or something else you love, if there is something that truly lights you up, go for it. Two years ago I would never have thought I would be half way through an Electrical Apprenticeship in a job I absolutely love let alone be selling my artwork that is now going to homes all over the world.

Lastly I have some HUGE thank you’s to make!! THANK YOU to my Mum and her amazing husband Chris for letting us borrow not only your car but your caravan that you only picked up the day before we left! THANK YOU for taking Tana Kickett Aboriginal Art on tour to Onslow where you were able to set up at the markets for me. Another big thank you to Ros and Dave who are family friends who travelled down to Onslow. My Mum is good at many things however, store front design probably isn’t her greatest of gift so Ros, I appreciate your help.

Mum and Ros's Onslow set up, which was a miracle after a VERY windy morning!

One more big thank you to my Dad Larry and my daughter Marlee. Thank you both for coming with me. Thank you for giving up your own time to run around after me. This was the first time we have been to Exmouth and not made it to the beach! A quick trip to the lighthouse on our last morning was good enough this time around.

The view from the Lighthouse - our one and only visit to the ocean for this trip! We will be back!

No thank you’s will ever be enough for everyone who has chipped in this week so I will say thank you in the only way I know how! Which is to reiterate it passively through this blog post..

I should also make a mention to coffee.. thank you coffee for getting me through.

Art is one thing but the eclipse itself and the people I got to meet made the entire experience amazing. Thank you for an incredible week Exmouth and to everyone who helped make my first market a success.

Coming home, I am looking forward to getting back to work and preparing for an upcoming shutdown that I am looking forward to. I am excited to spend the last few days of the school holidays with my kids and I am also looking forward to de-stressing in the only way I know how and that is to paint!


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