On Norfolk Island the ocean will always be a defining part of island life. Generations of islanders’ daily lives have been determined by the ebb and flow of the ocean here, and it has truly become a part of who they are. They have the salt water in their blood.
Norfolk Island artist Tracey Yager can count amongst her ancestors the Bounty Mutineer Mathew Quintal, and more recently her great-grandfather, who first encountered Norfolk working as a carpenter on a whaling ship. He was so entranced by a local girl he jumped ship and married her.
Tracey has a long-held passion for the sea and wooden boats. In 2015 after exhibiting her watercolours at The Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart Tasmania, Tracey was invited to join The Australian Society of Marine Artists as an exhibiting member, an honour for an artist whose career has been so inextricably intertwined with the sea.
Growing up on Norfolk and later working overseas as a graphic artist, Tracey landed in Noosa in 1991, where wooden boats moored on the Noosa River soon drew her attention. “Actually, it was painting those boats that I began to feel like I was getting a handle on painting water, and I remember one day when it just clicked over, and I knew how to paint it from then on”.
Years later a decision to move back to Norfolk Island with her partner in 1997 saw her opening Gallery Guava and in 2002 completing the artwork ‘Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama’, a 50 metre circular painting depicting the events leading to the settling of Norfolk Island via the Bounty Mutiny.
Creating the artwork with fellow artist Sue Draper involved 2 years of research and painting, including visits to the Maritime Museum in Sydney and documentation of the replica Bounty which was then moored in Sydney Harbour. Understandably, within its impressive 180 m² of painting there’s a lot of ocean and, a full two to three months of the time it took to paint the cyclorama were spent just painting water.
“As well as the ships, we needed to be able to paint the ocean in all sorts of atmospheric conditions, so for instance, in the scene where the Bounty is rounding Cape Horn, I sat down at Lone Pine in the middle of a winter storm documenting the ocean – oh it was
wild out there!’”.
Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama has been widely considered Norfolk’s premier attraction since opening its doors 20 years ago, and continues to invoke the same feelings of awe to its visitors as it did all those years ago. It is a world-class, 360 degree celebration of the story of the Bounty mutineers, told with the perfect proportions of artistry, elegance and drama.
Tracey’s connection with the ocean has remained a predominant feature and inspiration for her work. Her involvement with the Australian Society of Marine Artists stepped up another level recently. She was fortunate to join a group of the Society’s artists on board ‘The Lady Nelson’ tall ship for an artist’s in residency sailing voyage. 10 artists were selected for a 3 day voyage out of Hobart where they would capture inspiring images in sketches and photographs to create artworks for the 2023 Austrailian Wooden Boat Festival in February. An added bonus to the trip was that they were involved in the day-to-day workings of the ship, learning the ropes and getting to experience real life on board a classic tall ship.
Tracey recalls, “a truly memorable trip, 3 days of sailing in all weather conditions (including hail!!) along with 9 talented artists and 8 friendly crew. The experience of living out on the water is one I’ll never forget and has left me wanting more. I loved discovering how a tall ship really
For more information on Gallery Guava and Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama please visit:
To view Tracey Yager’s website please visit:
Image Credit: ‘Sea Mist’ – Watercolour by Tracey Yager. © Copyright Tracey Yager – reproduced with permission
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in Discover Norfolk, Volume 01 Issue 01, 2017. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.