Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Beef Australia. The all-in country affair where if you’re not wearing an ‘Akubra’, you’ll find yourself feeling a little left out. This national event attracts a range of international guests in addition to the 100,000 Aussies that flock from every corner of our Great Southern Land to be a part of this truly unique experience. Everything you could ever possibly want to know, to see, and to learn about beef and the cattle industry happens during this week. It’s a time where political dignitaries mix directly with farmers, local families learn from international chefs and fast-paced city slickers mingle with the laid-back country folk. Not to mention being able to buy a bit of Aussie art *wink wink*.
As a country girl at heart, this event represents the true essence of who I am – The Bull Artist, and my long-term fascination and admiration for the grand beasts that have shaped the very foundation of my work. The bulls themselves.
Beef 2021 will mark my fourth and final year showcasing my pieces to a live audience of this scale since doing my first exhibition in 2012. In years gone by, I’ve also featured some of the cattle industry's greatest contributors in Graeme Acton and Bill Geddes, but as my swan song to this event, I’ve decided it simply must be a bull. And a special Droughtmaster bull at that, "Huntly Title".
Until 2019, Huntly Title was a member of the Huntly Droughtmaster family, a 3rd generation run stud by the Barton family with over 50 years of breeding history between them.
In the 1950’s, Huntly founder Ted Barton invested in a Braham bull, after having an initial suggestive conversation with Dr. Flora Griffin. A crossbreed was then created with their existing herd of Shorthorn cattle. The combination of Brahman and Shorthorn proved to be a perfect match for our harsh Australian climate and along with son Peter Barton, they pursued this breeding program indefinitely forming Huntly Droughtmaster Stud 23.
Fast forward to today where Ted Barton’s grandson, Sam Barton and wife Jane now run Huntly Droughtmasters at their new property Struan, which is based in Comet, Central Queensland. It was under their guardianship that I first encountered their impressive prize-winning bull Huntly Title. With over a year in the making, Huntly Title was finally completed earlier this year and I’ve had the below accompanying video put together to show off a little ‘behind the scenes’ on just how this glorious gentle giant came to be immortalized in painted form. (Video at end of BLOG)
As with all my ‘Hero’ pieces, Mr. Title was created using The Bull Artist's signature style of painted acrylic on kangaroo hide. The hide provides the perfect textural foundation for the many layers of applied paint that form the authentic cattle ‘skin’ look. Countless hours are spent harnessing every little detail. The eyes, the nose, the many, many skin folds – to capture a bull’s true strength and captivating presence - no detail can be spared. Needless to say, when I’m in ‘full bull mode’ life outside my studio ceases to exist, only allowing time to come up for air and water, perhaps a nap and to let husband dearest Ralph know I’m still here.
So, whether I get to see you in person at Beef or have you along for the ‘online ride’, thank you for being a reader, an art lover, a farming enthusiast, friend, or family member, and supporting my journey at Beef over the last 9 years. It’s been a real honour and a privilege!
Signing off, The Bull Artist…