There’s a veritable spider’s web of roads pulling together the small communities in the foothills of the Bunya Mountains to the north east of Dalby.

Within a cooee of the rolling, treeless black soil plains of the Darling Downs, these roads wander through hills cloaked in sub-tropical scrub, in and out of stands of brigalow and bottletree, winding around cocky farms and feedlots and larger mixed farming enterprises interspersed with small towns filled with character, history and often faded beauty. They all share the same glorious legacy – they are overseen day and night by the brooding mystery and grandeur of the Bunya Mountains.

Artist Cathy McClelland and her husband Wayne each boast five generations of this legacy. Their home is hidden away on one of those spiders web roads amongst the rolling hills; their property has been in the family since first selected by Cathy’s forebears in the 1860s. Every morning, the Bunyas are the first thing Cathy sees when she looks out into the world; thus it has been forever. No surprise, then, that Cathy has the Bunyas in her blood.

This passion, when combined with a natural talent for art and a flair for colour, was apt to become a potent force. So it was with Cathy. Her love of colour originally attracted her to training as a beauty therapist; then motherhood took command of her creative energies for many a year.During those years Cathy tinkered with painting. But not til now, on the cusp of her post-mothering years, has she been able to devote her energy full time to what has become a lucrative expression of her deep and abiding knowledge of the countryside of which she is so intrinsic a part.

In just 18 months, recognition of her achievements and her esoteric subject matter is stacking up. In November 2011, having entered “just for fun” the online worldwide FASO Boldbrush Competition with her painting Morning Chat, much to her surprise and delight she won the Popular Entries Section. This year she has been accepted into the Queensland Wildlife Artist Society Inc. and the Wildlife Artist Society Australasia.

Having the IT savvy to start a website of her work has paid enormous dividends; very quickly Cathy has earned international recognition. Talent scouts in the US discovered her via her website and she has been selected for representation by the Agora Gallery in New York, where she will exhibit in December 2012. Nine of her paintings were selected for the Art Takes Time Square competition in New York. Her works were displayed on a nine x 12ft digital screen on Broadway and 43rd Street on the evening of 18 June.

Cathy accepts commissions, and has travelled widely to paint for clients. Her art has found its way to private and corporate collections in Japan, England, Scotland, the US and throughout Australia. A small slice of our Bunya Mountains and its wildlife is being exported from Cathy’s studio in the foothills of the Bunyas.

Her work can be viewed on www.cathymcclelland.com.au,
or through www.facebook.com/cathymcclellandfineart.com.au.

Words by Jane Grieve | Images by  Janine Waters