Recently I’ve been travelling around south-east NSW and elsewhere, photographing, writing and generally absorbing the real-world colours and textures of Eucalyptus trees.

A number of artistic threads have come together to initiate this artistic adventure. Firstly, Four Winds have commissioned a new work to be premiered in their 2018 Easter Festival. The performance will be in their extraordinary outdoor Sound Shell near Bermagui in south east NSW. A tree-inspired work then is a no-brainer, and continues my own long-term exploration of textures, patterns, movement and light in nature.

Damian Barbeler Composer Damian Barbeler. Photo © Patrick Boland

This year also happens to be the 20-year anniversary of Murray Bail’s Franklin Award-winning novel Eucalyptus. The book is famous for the virtuosic way Murray threads names and characteristics of Eucalypts through the love story: variously as metaphors for characters or as symbols of Australian identity and so forth. And so my new work is also a tribute to, and a revisiting of Eucalyptus.
I can still remember my reaction to the book when I read it in 1998. I, probably like many of us, had a fairly generic preconception of this iconic Australian tree: the...