Mr. Darwin’s Lovely Thought – The Tangled Bank

Mr. Darwin's Lovely Thought 65x50 cms, Pen and Ink on Canson paper
Mr. Darwin’s Lovely Thought
65×50 cms, Pen and Ink on Canson paper

“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about and with worms crawling through the damp earth and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.”
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 6th Edn. (from the final paragraph).

Mr. Darwin's Lovely Thought - detail 1 - Pen and Ink on Canson paper Rainbow bee-eater and carpet python
Mr. Darwin’s Lovely Thought – detail 1 – Pen and Ink on Canson paper
Rainbow bee-eater and carpet python
Splendid Wren, Black Striped Wallaby, Golden Orb Spider, Eastern Water Dragon and Lamingon Crayfish.
Splendid Wren, Black Striped Wallaby, Golden Orb Spider, Eastern Water Dragon and Lamingon Crayfish.

This is a famous quote, and I came across it again a couple of weeks ago in a book about the concept of the sublime in art, as it happens. I started to think about doing a drawing based on my own neck of the woods in sub-tropical South-East Queensland, with the plants and animals that are so familiar to me. It took a lot of work to plan and many, many hours dotting away with very fine point pens, but I’m happy with the result. I have submitted the work for a major drawing prize, and have got my fingers crossed for a spot in the finals. In this drawing I have tried to depict a dense web of interconnected life, rich with pattern and detail, through which the eye has to wander slowly to pick out all the animals (29 of them) and various types of plants (more than 15). The style of the drawing is intended to evoke the feel of 19th century hatural history engravings and also has been influenced by the complex fantasies of Arthur Rackham.

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