BRASSO (aka Neil Cash) is aN ARTIST, photographer and creative director based in Melbourne.
He really struggles with the awkwardness of writing in the third person.
AKA Neil Cash
To appreciate my work is to understand where it comes from. From early days of childhood, nature has always been a part of my life, from misty treks over the bleak and foreboding moorland of northern England to the vast open skies of Australia, where the nervous excitement of varying invisible rustles of dangerous mammals keeps you firmly on your toes.
One of the best ways to truly understand the vastness of Australia is from the sky. And I always ask for a window seat. That way I get to appreciate and study the patterns of the land from a birds eye view. My weekend life is to bundle the camera, sketchbook and dogs into the car and experience that same land from within, joining those two perspectives together.
I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful landscape in the Macedon Ranges, and have focused much of my recent work here, and more specifically, at Black Hill Reserve. My desire for the preservation of the devastation I encountered there has been the driving force behind the last 4 years of work, photographing, drawing, observing and often just being in the evolving landscape. Creating my interpretations of the incredible and humbling cycle of nature and it’s multiple and wonderful characters and personalities.
It’s another beautiful crisp morning and we’re headed to Black Hill for a walk. There’s the luring whiff of smoky bushfire in the air from back burning and the sun hides behind the haze, leaving the perfect temperature for some natural exercise.
I take the hardest route this morning. Clockwise around the north and east and then up to the summit off the south side. A double climb with the reward of ancient monoliths, blackened trees and panoramic views of the Macedon Ranges.
I rest at the top on one such rock and take in the vista offered by the gap in the trees. I guess you’d call it morning reflection time, except my eyes are racing, and I’m not reflecting, I’m creating. There is a myriad of shapes and textures to process, changing constantly as the light dances through the lightly swaying branches. I’ve sat here countless times and every day I see something I’ve previously missed. The dogs are on high alert. The prick of an ear and the crack of a twig sends our eyes simultaneously in a new direction.
I’m scouring a hundred mini landscapes for the signs of camouflaged creatures. I know they’re there, they know I’m here and I know I often stare right through them. They hide in full sight, and once we lock eyes, we both know this will be a short lived moment.
It’s those hidden creatures and characters I’m searching for, imagining and creating in my own work. They’re in the rocks, the trees and the spaces in between. And like the landscape they’re inspired by, often so well hidden that I don’t see them until the artwork is completed. They appear over time, sometimes over many views of those same marks, lines and shapes. And then they’re forever. Unable to be unseen. Locked in the vision and locked in the artwork.
It wasn’t always so easy to form such a special relationship with the rocks. Barely noticeable for so long. And then the fire. Unforgiving dry lightning strikes at the end of another hot and dry day, atop the summit, saw the landscape devoured in minutes by a raging fire. Contained through the night by the tireless fire crews, my trails through the morning aftermath will sit in my mind forever. Blackened trees, still smoking their wispy blue clouds, wildlife lain where fire prevented their escape. But visible through the hundreds of jet black columns were the blue skies and perfect white clouds of a new day. Audible were the optimistically haunting calls of the kookaburras. The ground was grey with deep layers of ash. And I had no idea what to feel. Awe, sadness, intrigue and excitement all passed through me.
What I wasn’t to know at that point was how much the bushfire would inform my vision. Selfish but true. I got to see the landscape stripped back to its barest bones. And then had the privilege of watching it regenerate. Watching those proud standing rocks beat their chests one last time and then gradually settle back into their surrounds of lush green vegetation. Once more hidden away until nature strikes again. The mobs of kangaroos and lone ranger wallabies all returned with minimal losses. Even the echidnas survived.
Nature is incredible and inspiring, I hope you enjoy my interpretations of it.
I'm always interested in new collaborations with fellow creatives and if you think you have a project in mind that we could work on, I'd love to hear from you.