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The Call of the Wild

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

A few weeks ago, on a mission to realise the fundraising potential of my series of 12 paintings that give voice to creatures affected by bushfire, I came upon an online support site for, and run by, wildlife carers. My attempts to connect with larger organisations had failed to translate so I figured I needed some frontline advice. I posted images of Giving Voice with my intention on the group’s Facebook page and the hearty, immediate response was so encouraging. The carers connected with the paintings like my own audience had and messages started flooding in.

The name Jodie Blackney kept coming up. Every recount about her response during myriad bushfires painted the picture of a woman who came to the rescue, providing carers with whatever medical and sustaining supplies had run out, as the daily toll of critically ill animals continued to overwhelm resources. Her actions and generosity (“she used her own money to buy bandages and formula”) saved the lives of countless animals. I remember I was researching this from my bed and the stories connected me deeply to someone I am still yet to meet. How Jodie was described contained all I needed to know that this woman is honour bound to do whatever it takes to ensure that creatures and carers get what they need.

So, from the tear soiled sheets, I searched for the organisation that Jodie had set up in response to the horrendous fires. An organisation called Bushfire Wildlife Rescue and Support. I sent her a message and her response, immediate and welcoming, was ‘let’s do this’.

Jodie explained how she looks after 100 wildlife carers around Australia who are in need of supplies and equipment. With a following of 5,000 people worldwide, I knew I’d found my match.

With 12 images in the series, Giving Voice, I considered producing a calendar, however it would have a limited lifespan and an expensive start-up cost. With limited funds due to COVID and little storage space it got me thinking about the giclee digital prints. They have always been my premium product, second only to the original works. Printed either on canvas or fine art watercolour paper, they can be ordered as required by Jodie then produced and dispatched by Scott, my printer, based in Brisbane.

I called Scott, who was recovering from a heart operation. Given the times, he was delighted to be a part of the wildlife rescue venture.

And so, this week I will be delivering all 12 paintings to Scott to be scanned and colour corrected in anticipation of orders.

I have been in regular contact with Jodie, almost daily. She has gotten to know my work and has seen the development of the letterboxes, and, as karma would have it, has shared them widely. As a consequence I am painting more letterboxes for wildlife carers at the moment than I could ever have imagined. Yesterday, Jodie commissioned me to paint one as a gift for Rae Harvey, a carer who lost everything in a bushfire, including all the animals she had in her care at the time. In spite of her catastrophic loss of life and home, Rae got back up, returned to her land and set up a wildlife shelter. Jodie and a lot of other people have been supporting Rae since the fires and Jodie felt ‘a letterbox would bring some colour back into her life’.

Jodie personifies human potential. Her example is life affirming and inspiring. Her example shines a light that leads the way to hope.

We will be launching Giving Voice as soon as Scott has them ready to print. It won’t be long. I am off to pack them up right now.

Then I will begin work on the next Wildlife Inc collection.

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