Julia Wakefield

The home page of Julia Wakefield, an independent artist that specialises in illustration and printmaking. Online gallery, recent news and purchase links.

Join the Flying Wombat Club

It’s been a while since I posted in this blog, and there are so many things I could have talked about, but now I have an urgent reason to start blogging again.

The recent bush fires – and there are sure to be more to come, tragically – have set the Internet ablaze – sorry, I have to use that term, as news does indeed spread like wildfire. Everyone is talking about climate change, and about the government’s ineptitude and infuriating lack of urgency over preparing for what promised to be an unprecedented bush fire season. Above all, the mass cremation of millions of native animals by these fires has been an impossible fact to ignore. Coupled with that is our growing realisation that we have been quietly exterminating animals everywhere at a horrific rate in the last fifty years, and the massacres are accelerating.

Dismay at the plight of our animals is beginning to eclipse our feelings for the human bush fire victims. Thanks to new technologies and greater public awareness, there were far fewer human fatalities this time than there have been in the past, considering the phenomenal size and fury of these fires. But the animals didn’t stand a chance. And some of the species affected, already endangered, may now be rendered extinct.

I am angered by our government’s lack of climate action, but I am also in a state of despair over my former ignorance of the terrifying depth of the wildlife crisis that we are facing. I, like the climate deniers, was unable to contemplate the statistics until reports started pouring in that I could no longer ignore. Since Captain Cook set foot on this land on that ill-fated date 250 years ago, Australia has lost at least 100 plant and animal species. But this article, written before this summer’s bush fires, speculates that that figure could be multiplied tenfold.

There are many reasons for the disappearance of wild animals all over the world, but the main one is human greed for land. We not only live on it, we destroy the forests for timber, for agriculture and for multiple other industries. We never consider that we share the planet with other species that depend on an intricately connected environment for their existence, and have as much right as we have to live in it. We are constantly breaking the connections, even before we understand how they work.

I’ve said enough: and I’m determined not to depress you as well as myself with a constant litany of our lamentable shortcomings. I’m going to do something about this, and I need your help. There are voluntary organisations all over Australia that are working their socks off trying to save the species that are on the brink. And I hope I have found a way to help them. They need cash, of which I don’t have a great deal. But I do have my hands, my imagination and some tools. So here is my idea.

Flying Wombats

These little fellas are cut from my scroll saw, painted with water colours and sprinkled with glitter, then sealed with a water based compostable varnish. (I debated about the ethics of glitter: it is hideous stuff when it gets into the ocean, as it’s a micro plastic. But I’m sealing it under the varnish so unless you insist on dropping your badge in the washing machine multiple times, the glitter should stay put until we find a way to deal with micro plastics. And it’s optional.) The little ones are badges. The big one is one of three that are designed to hang on the wall, flying ducks style. And I will send you one for free, on one condition: that you donate to an Australian charity that is dedicated to saving our wildlife. I have one in mind: FAME is devoted to saving our endangered species. But there are many other deserving NFPs that are working round the clock to rescue animals from drought and bush fires, so Google them. If you’d like a badge, I’d like you to donate a minimum of $20, and send me a copy of your receipt, with your address. You can tell me what colour wombat you’d like. And then I’ll send you one, along with official membership of the flying Wombat Club. To start with, I’m doing an edition of 30 wombat badges. Then I may do other animals. In fact, I’m working on a glossy black cockatoo wood engraving at the moment. Watch this space. Oh, and if you want a trio of wombats for your wall, please send me a receipt for a $90 (or more) donation. More photos to follow, so you can choose your personal wombat(s).

Stay safe in this nightmare of a summer. And don’t tread on the cockroaches – just usher them gently outside.

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