AFTER ADMIRING LITTLE BEACH SHACKS THAT WERE BUILT BUT OFTEN DISAPPEARED WITH THE NEXT TIDE ALONG RED BEACH FOR YEARS, AROUND EASTER 2018 I FOUND MYSELF STUNNED LOOKING AT A MASSIVE STRUCTURE THAT SEEMED TO HAVE POPPED UP OVER NIGHT. I CURIOUSLY INSPECTED THE MASSIVE BUILDING, THAT A FEW DAYS LATER BORE A NAMETAG INTRODUCING IT AS THE ‘R. CRUSOE HUT’.

I am an artist, so the beauty of this wild thing built from driftwood touched my heart. Around that time I was working on a project called ‘Homing’ – a quest for what we use to make and define a place we call home. Robinson Crusoe, washed up on an island, a stranger to the place, had to do just that. So my curiosity was sparked.

I felt like whoever had assembled the Crusoe deserved a thank you – so I posted on the community pages that I’d offer the builder(s) a free photo shoot.

And that’s how one day Trev and I met. At his second shack, the Jeffrey, out on Woody Bay, that had just gone up in June 2018. And that was pretty much the starting point of us working together. Not long after our initial meeting our first joint artwork “Uncertainty Of Dreams. Childhood1’ featuring the Jeffrey Shack, became a finalist in the Devonport Tidal 18 Art Prize.

Encouragement and support is sometimes crucial when working on art projects that never have a certain outcome and are often demanding on your own resources.

I chased Trev to an interview with the ABC he nearly avoided, and he helped me transporting my massive 55 piece Solo exhibition to a Regional Gallery in Munduberra, 5 hours north from here. Most of the images in “I TOLD YOU SO” are from around the Moreton Bay Region. It was the summary of 5 years of my solitary walks through nature. Walks that we from now on often took together.

‘I TOLD YOU SO’, conversations with nature, was last shown at The Caboolture Hub in December 2019

I had organised a group exhibition at the Bribie Island Community Art Centre in May 2019, initially under the title of ‘3 Artists: On Being There’ long before meeting Trevor. Last minute Trevor became the 4th artist to join in, and his wood and wire works fitted in as if they had been part of the original plan.

‘4 Artists: On Being There’ was so well received that it encouraged us to start working on new projects together.

Creating art has always been a solidary process for both of us. Trev doesn’t like being watched when he is out building the huts, so his works popped up a bit like Banky’s works in the streets, only at the beach.

In late 2019 another shack was added. ‘Gulliver’s Gate’ is located at Ball Point.

There’s always more to art than what meets the eye, for both of us it is a lot about processing life events. I was processing some challenging times with ‘I TOLD YOU SO’. The statements of ‘I TOLD YOU SO’ which explained the thought process behind the images received so much attention that they will now come out as a book.

Trevor grew up in Zimbabwe in the turmoils of war. ‘Gulliver’s Gate’ became the title of a book we are currently working on about mental health.

The Jeffrey was recently again subject of a work that made it into another prestigious art prize, the Lethbridge 20,000 2020.

(Whilst we didn’t win, it did get sold). Trev’s shacks are intricate structures that are built to last and now have become a bit of a landmark on Bribie. He only uses onsite materials, often carries logs over distance so that they would interlock and sit stable

The Jeffrey was built into the tideline, and so was the Crusoe.

Jeffrey recently had his second birthday and is still standing strong, whilst the Crusoe finally succumbed to the elements shortly after his second birthday

Trev was pretty sad seeing the Crusoe go. I consoled him by pointing out the fact that Crusoe would have been something like 94 in shack years. He had a good long life and made many people happy. And looking around Red Beach: Crusoe has grandchildren and greatgrand children. Lots of little shacks that are being built there now by families and their kids.

We are currently starting a little business in honour of Crusoe. ‘Crusoe Goods’ will offer a range of items that we make from natural and recycled materials, from small gifts to furniture and homewares, and we are planning to run a number of workshops in the near future.

(For anyone interested – there is a FB Page as a first stop to get in touch with ‘Crusoe Goods’. Things will hopefully grow from there).