Friendship in charcoal
If there is one painting in the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize that will resonate with many people in this community, it’s Martyn Fox’s portrait of the late and much loved Geoff Moxham.
Geoff, a long-time environmental campaigner, sadly died in an accident at his Terania Creek property last August in the midst of building a biochar kiln for his community. Geoff was a great believer in the power of biochar – the process of turning carbon based materials into charcoal, capturing carbon from the atmosphere and leaving you with a product that can be used as a fertiliser or fuel.
It was a great passion of Geoff’s so when Martyn decided he wanted to create a portrait of him, there was only one medium he was ever going to use.
“I went to a personal development workshop and woke up on the first morning writing furiously about Geoff,” Martyn said. “I knew I could draw him and I knew it needed to be in charcoal. It just felt right.”
Geoff and Martyn became friends through the home schooling network and had planned a homeschooling playdate with Martyn’s son Jasper, but it was a meeting which sadly never took place as Geoff died.
Instead, Martyn went to the place where Geoff passed away and cut a chunk of wood from a massive old dead red gum which he then made into biochar. He said he found the whole process cathartic.
“I then used it (the biochar), combined with artists’ charcoal, to draw Geoff’s portrait,” he said. “The process of burning this wood with my son, from a tree on Geoff’s property, and then drawing him felt like we were completing that appointment. It was a very healing experience.”
Geoff’s website, www.bodgershovel.com, is being maintained by his brother Jay, and has extensive notes and videos on his work.
For more information on the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize and to see a full list of finalists, see pages 30 and 31.