Making Rainbow Driftwood

Stuff made, for the sake of making stuff

Read more


I’m a tree lover and I’ve enjoyed magical relationships with many trees throughout my life. There was the huge Illawarra Flame Tree in my backyard that Dad built a treehouse in when I was a grom so I could check the surf (we lived two blocks back from the beach). When a branch fell off it in a storm and destroyed his workshop, I figured that sticking nails in trees for your kid’s benefit was a huge no-no. We also had a rubber tree in the backyard that would shed leaves like Vaughano shed hair back in his late 20s. A huge pile of rubber leaves would form an organic trampoline we’d jump in after school. The sap from the leaves ruined every piece of clothing we had so Dad cut it down with his bare hands after Manly lost the footy one Sunday arvo. Later when I moved into my first house I built a half pipe around a palm tree in the middle of the yard. It lived to shred. And when I eventually moved to Bungan I had two huge date palms either side of my lounge room window. They felt like sentinals protecting the house and framing the headland.

Not surprisingly I have huge problems with logging, woodchipping and deforestation, but when a tree dies a natural death and drifts from the fringes of a riverbank out into the ocean I find that to be a dignified and fitting way to go. Then after months adrift, being stripped and then crafted by the elements, they return to shore, the smooth skeletal remains of Earth’s truest life-giving force. And when I spot them sticking out of the shorey, I run down the beach screaming like a little girl who’s just been given a pony, my bucket of paints in hand.

Step 1. I believe in making stuff for the sake of making stuff, but I don’t believe in art for art’s sake. I like there to be some meaning, some layers, some onion skin if you will, when it comes to why I make the stuff I make. That’s why I like to start with an idea, and in this case the idea is that the world is becoming too robotic. I hate to be a harbinger of doom but I’m a believer that robots will one day be uploaded with A.I. and then they’ll turn on us humans, and next thing your toaster will stab you in the eye with black toast while your fridge obliterates your skull by jumping on it. Meanwhile, animals are seriously on the wane. When was the last time you saw a mountain gorilla or a dodo bird or a Shane Herring in your neighbourhood? So the idea is “More animals less robots”. Now let’s get to painting.

Step 2. One of the first things you learn when drawing trees at school is that leaves are green, trunks are brown. No wonder the world is turning into brain dead spread sheet filling zombies. They should be teaching kids leaves are red and white polka dots and trucks are purple and yellow checkers. You may not know this but trees are totally into fashion, they told me themselves when I was on acid in Jan Juc after a Goons gig in the Bells carpark that time.

Step 3. When painting driftwood there are two rules one must adhere to. The first is that you use paints that won’t wash off in the sea. The second is that you don’t use paint that dog piss will wash off, because plenty of dogs are gonna piss on your driftwood art, especially if it’s on a dog-walking beach.

Step 4. Once your masterpiece is done be sure to keep an eye out for other pieces of driftwood to paint. Nothing looks better when you’re out in the water than a Rainbow Driftwood Beach, except for topless Goth Moth moon baking at midnight with her four tits out.

Ozzie Wright