Emmie the Sea Turtle

Emmie the Sea Turtle
"Emmie the Sea Turtle" - a painting from the heart

As an artist who paints to fulfil her creative needs, as well as provide for my family, I need to constantly draw on inspiration to carry me through the tough, lean times. Unfortunately I lost one of my major sources of inspiration when my Nanna Emmie passed away in 2022. I spent a lot of time with my her as a child, and her capacity for fun and happiness was also matched by a sense of independence and stoicism that not only got her through World War Two serving in the Land Army, but also enabled her to live independently until just a few months before her death at the age of 94.

I think part of the reason I love sea turtles so much is that I see the same stoic nature and sense of independence as they move through their life cycle. You also can't fail to see happiness and contentment when you stare into the eyes of a sea turtle. So, in 2023, after the initial pain of the loss of my Nanna had subsided a little, I was able to start a painting of sea turtle - Emmie - in her honour. In this painting I hoped to capture my grandmother's independent and free spirit, her unflappable will to not just survive but to thrive and her eternal happiness in what I have come to see as her kindred spirit - the green sea turtle.

While my emotions always influence my art, directly tapping into them during the creative process was new for me. Before I started on Emmie, I tested out harnessing this emotional rawness by painting "George the Sea Turtle". George was my Nanna's husband and my grandfather. I never got to meet George as he died when my mother was only 12. When I painted "George the Sea Turtle", I envisaged my grandfather watching over me from afar and I think this added a spiritual feeling to the composition. This painting generated a lot of interest and "George the Sea Turtle" sold on the first day he was released and now resides in Abu Dhabi.

George the Sea Turtle

As a citizen of this fragile blue planet, I am committed to doing everything I possibly can to live a sustainable lifestyle. When I began to establish myself as an artist, I wanted this same ethos to carry through my artistic creations wherever possible. I am continually exploring new ways of making the most sustainable art possible, and giving back to nature in the form of supporting conservation efforts. Currently, this takes on three main forms:

I paint on upcycled surfboards, that sooner or later would have ended up in landfill. New surfboards have never been cheaper or more readily available, and as a result most used boards are left to languish in garages and garden sheds until they are eventually disposed of as rubbish. With the help of my partner Martin, a lifelong surfer, I hunt through the used surfboard market looking for surfboards whose story is not yet over.
I offset all the carbon potentially generated by my work, my studio and the original production of these upcycled surfboards by purchasing trees planted in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor.
I donate a percentage of all profits towards nature conservation efforts. I try wherever possible to direct these funds towards the subject of my paintings, so Emmie and George are directly supporting sea turtle conservation.
Emmie concept with a bit of colour

Above you can see the original concept sketch for "Emmie the Sea Turtle" - a split view composition, with Emmie seen swimming in the warm waters of the Ningaloo Reef lagoon. Below, you can see board with just the background painted.

In keeping with the emotional connection with this painting, Emmie has been painted on an upcycled Bourton Batfish surfboard originally custom shaped for my partner Martin. This board has been surfed throughout Australia and Indonesia, including along the Ningaloo Reef in Exmouth. The unique bat tail and wide dimensions of this board provided a fantastic canvas on which to bring Emmie to life.

"Emmie the Sea Turtle" is a unique work of art that will brighten any space

We all love to decorate our living spaces with paintings, pictures and objects that sing to us and create that special feeling of "home". There is also that fantastic feeling that comes from sharing the special story behind these works of art with family and friends when they visit. Many people have asked me how I can bear to part with "Emmie the Sea Turtle" when she carries such a personal emotional investment, but that is the exact reason that I must set Emmie free. Just like my Nanna, "Emmie the Sea Turtle" needs to be free to bring joy to everyone. She has fulfilled her purpose with me, allowing me to express my feelings for my beloved Nanna through my art and nothing would honour her memory more than knowing that she is bringing joy to others.

I would love for "Emmie the Sea Turtle" to find a new home with you. This board is the end of an era as it is the last time I will paint a sea turtle on a non-commissioned board. If you would like to make Emmie your own, then click on the button below to purchase "Emmie the Sea Turtle". If you require shipping then that can be arranged at your cost after purchase.

PS Below is the story that my partner Martin was inspired to write after seeing "Emmie the Sea Turtle" take shape in my studio.

Emmie's Story

In the tranquil waters of Ningaloo Reef, Emmie the green sea turtle glided gracefully, her sleek form cutting through the cool, clear ocean. She had faced many challenges in her long life, from evading predators to navigating treacherous currents, but nothing could deter her from her annual pilgrimage. Every couple of years, she got the urge to embark on a remarkable journey, swimming along the reef with unwavering determination, to return to the same beach where she had been born.

As Emmie ventured across the vast expanse of the ocean, memories of her previous arduous journeys flooded her mind. She many perilous obstacles, from hungry tiger sharks to fishing nets, plastic waste and boat propellers, yet she had always persevered, driven by an unyielding instinct to ensure the survival of her species. The weight of responsibility lay heavy on her broad, resilient shell, for she knew that the future of her kind rested on her sturdy flippers.

Finally, after days of relentless swimming, Emmie arrived at her destination—a pristine, sandy shore bathed in the soft glow of the moonlight. With a deep, profound sense of purpose, she began to dig a deep, sandy pit, meticulously creating a safe haven for her precious cargo. One by one, she carefully laid her eggs, each one representing her unwavering hope for the future.

Emmie is taking shape

As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a radiant cascade of hues across the endless expanse of ocean, Emmie returned to the waves, her indomitable spirit unbroken. With each stroke of her powerful flippers, she carried with her the enduring legacy of resilience and hope, leaving behind her last clutch of eggs for this visit, buried as safely as she could in their sandy nest.

The things these eyes have seen

Months passed, and Emmie's offspring began to emerge from their sandy sanctuary, their tiny forms illuminated by the gentle touch of the sun. The world they would inhabit was fraught with peril—ravenous predators, changing climates, and human encroachment threatened their very existence.

In their tiny new-born eyes burned the same fierce determination to defy the odds that glowed within the depths of Emmie's ancient eyes. The newborn turtles embarked on their perilous journey to the ocean, but Emmie was long gone and now it was up to them to face the challenges that awaited.

Close-up detail of Emmie, her fishy friends and the coral

The story of Emmie the green sea turtle echoes across the vast ocean, fading slowly as most of her offspring fall victim to the many challenges they face. It is a testament to the enduring power of perseverance that a lucky few will survive, ensuring that Emmie's legacy would endure for generations to come.

To purchase "Emmie the Sea Turtle" click the link below:

If your budget does quite extend to Emmie in surfboard form, then she is also available as a limited edition, fine art print: