Mak­ing Dusty Art

Once dust set­tles, artist cre­ates in­cred­i­ble scenes

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

A SIX-WEEK build-up of dust, one paint­brush and three beers are all Peta Evans needs to cre­ate a work of art.

On the back of her dirty Toy­ota LandCruiser, the St Lawrence (south of Mackay, Queens­land) lo­cal can care­fully carve up in­cred­i­ble ru­ral scenes – like a cam­p­drafter com­ing around the first peg or ducks glid­ing on a wet­land.

What started as a bit of fun has de­vel­oped into an artis­tic ven­ture.

Peta now has thou­sands of fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia and is booked in to host a work­shop next year.

It takes about four to six weeks for Peta to get the per­fect build-up of dust on her back win­dow – she needs a special blend of dew and dirt to cre­ate the can­vas.

“My son Luke needs to catch the bus at Clairview and we have 10km of dust to get him there,” she said.

“So you have dust that’s on the win­dow, then in the morn­ing you have dew on the dust, then go­ing to the bus I get an­other fresh layer of dirt.

“Af­ter about four weeks you can’t see through it and it gets locked in. It’s thou­sands of lay­ers and be­comes much thicker.

“It gets to the stage where you can work the dust with your paint­brush. It gets lighter at a touch and if you work it, it gets darker.”

De­spite the tricky tex­ture, Peta cre­ates in­tri­cate and de­tailed de­signs, and sur­pris­ingly, she said it doesn’t take long.

“I gen­er­ally tell peo­ple it takes about three beers,” she said.

Peta re­alised her hid­den tal­ent thanks to a friend’s long-run­ning joke.

“I have a beau­ti­ful friend, Vivi­enne Cole­man, and when­ever she saw my car – even if it was at her place, or in St Lawrence or in Rock­hamp­ton – if she went past my car, she would draw on it,” she said.

“I can re­mem­ber go­ing to town when rain­wa­ter was very scarce so no one was wash­ing their cars and for two days I had ‘I love the Wig­gles!’ on my car.

“Any­way, one day I was sit­ting look­ing at my car and it was very dusty, and I was think­ing, you know, ‘I bet­ter wash my car’.

“And I touched it with my fin­ger and it was very baked on and I thought, ‘that’s a bit of a can­vas,’ so I started to draw a pic­ture.

“It ended up pretty nice so I left the pic­ture on there for a few days... and it meant I got away with not wash­ing my car.”

As it’s fid­dly work, Peta cap­tures her work on her phone while she builds pic­tures. Those images have been up­loaded to her Face­book page, Dusty Art, which has more than 4000 fol­low­ers. Her pic­tures are a re­flec­tion of her ru­ral up­bring­ing. She was born in Ten­nant Creek and trav­elled around Aus­tralia with her fam­ily as her dad was a yard builder and fencer.

“I grew up as a nomad,” she said.

“I did pretty much the same thing un­til I set­tled to have kids. My work has been as di­verse as a cock­tail wait­ress to a rouse­about.”

Next year, Peta is keen to lead a work­shop at the St Lawrence Wet­lands Week­end.

She com­pleted a demon­stra­tion there this year, but faced a dust artist’s big­gest chal­lenge: rain.

“Two days be­fore I had four weeks’ of dust on my win­dow ready for the demon­stra­tion, then we got 5mm of rain,” she said.

“I went to Vivi­enne’s place, wet it with the hose then drove up and down her bull-dust road. I screamed along it, hit the brakes and let the dust catch up – I just laid in it as long as I could.

“That’s all I had to work with.”

With­out her usual can­vas Peta said that birdlife draw­ing be­came quite “black and white”.

Some of Peta’s in­spi­ra­tion for Dusty Art steams from the iconic Jol­liffe’s Out­back car­toon books.

“I no­tice in the com­ments peo­ple will say ‘nice work on the Jol­liffe’. It’s just beau­ti­ful that they recog­nise that,” she said. She also draws on in­spi­ra­tion from her St Lawrence com­mu­nity, which she de­scribes like a “reef and beef” set­ting.

“This is where you see the mud crabs and bar­ra­mundi liv­ing among cat­tle. Ru­ral life mixes with fish­ing life.”

Search Dusty Art on Face­book to see more of Peta’s work.

PHOTOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

SPECIAL TAL­ENT: St Lawrence, Cen­tral Queens­land, artist Peta Evans starts one of her Dusty Art cre­ations.

A cam­p­draft scene made from dust.

Peta needs a special build-up of dust.

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