Saturday, 7 May 2016

Q150 2009 Ian Fairweather

Q150 Heritage Plaque - 6 of 16 - Ian Fairweather
The Bribie Island Heritage Plaques Waterfront Walk Bongaree consists of 16 bronze plaques located on the "Heritage Walk" along the walking path beside the Bongaree beach from the southern point of South Esplanade and finishes just north of Kangaroo Avenue.
These 16 bronze plaques set on a white concrete square record various aspects of the history of Bribie Island: Record Rainfall, South Esplanade, Campbell's Store, Camping Grounds, Bribie Island heritage quote from A. Meston, Ian Fairweather, First Shop, Bribie Island Heritage quote from Stan Tutt, First Avenue, Fishing Records, Welsby Parade, Bribie Island Wartime, First Car, Shirley Creek, Castaway Convicts and Fish Cannery.
The following excerpt is from the 2009 booklet produced prior to the plaques placement.  The Heritage Plaques Waterfront Walk Bongaree project was a Q150 Community Funded Program, initiated by the Rotary Club of Bribie Island and supported by Moreton Bay Regional Council in conjunction with Bribie Island U3A and Bribie Island Historical Society.
A copy of the map for the Bongaree Waterfront Walk can be found at 


After a lifetime of travel and adventure, in 1953 at the age of 62, this world famous artist came to live in isolation in a grass hut inland from here.
He created some of his finest paintings in this hut over the next 21 years, until his death in 1974.

Ian Fairweather
 Soon after his birth in Scotland in 1891, Ian Fairweather’s military family departed for India leaving him in the care of relatives.  He did not see them again for 8 years.  This may have set the pattern set for his solitary, independent, questing life, often spent in extreme poverty but always exploring his extraordinary artistic  abilities.  He spent his last 21 years on Bribie Island in peace and creativity..

Fairweather’s Search for Inner Peace
. After World War 1, during which he was captured and escaped  more than once, he attended the Slade School of Art.  
. He traveled extensively and went to China, learnt the language and translated Chinese works.  After living and painting in Shanghai he travelled on to Bali where he found art and culture were as one.  He eventually reached  Melbourne in 1934 but found the art scene there disappointing.
He was in India during  World War 2, and once again served in the British Army  and afterwards  returned to Australia.and lived in a boat hull in Darwin.
From Darwin he made an amazing, tortuous and largely inexplicable voyage , in which he nearly lost his life while attempting to reach Indonesia  in a leaky, home-made raft.
His raft adventure  seemed to be  some  sort of catalyst.  Sent back to England, he eventually returned to Australia, constantly searching for the appropriate solitude for his creative genius.  In 1953, at the age of 62, he finally  discovered  peace on Bribie Island and remained here until his death in 1974. 

Ian Fairweather’s Life on Bribie Island
Ian Fairweather outside his grass hut.
           On Bribie Island Ian Fairweather settled in a grass hut in the bush, lit only by hurricane lamps and sharing his meagre rations with the local wildlife.  Using very basic paints and canvas, or cardboard from the local tip, he created many hundreds of wonderful paintings….he fame of which did not seem to interest him.

Ian Fairweather's "Que"  1950
         He sent his works away to be sold to dealers, art galleries and collectors around the world. These were always much sought after, but Fairweather was happy to just enjoy his creative isolation, drawing upon the rich experiences of his life.

Ian Fairweather's "High Tide" 1950

  By the 1960’s his creative genius was being recognized around the world, and it became more difficult for him to maintain his creative solitude. His fame and potential fortune had little impact on him, or the residents of Bribie Island who observed glimpses of this enigmatic character, as he went about his simple life among them. His inner feelings are reflected in his famous statement:                                                                
There may be better places than the sunset strip of Bribie Island…. but it’s good enough for me”.

Ian Fairweather
       The Council became increasingly concerned about his health and living conditions and to improve this they built him a small fibro house next to the grass hut. He was always more comfortable in the grass hut but used the house to store paintings and materials.
       After his death the council burned his grass hut, and the small house was relocated into the garden of Coungeau House, Banya Street.
       A stone memorial marks the site of his hut in Ian Fairweather Park on the corner of First Avenue and Hunter Street.

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