Ian Roberts is recognised as one of Australia’s premier bird painters, in past years expanding his repertoire at his studio and art gallery, the Medika Gallery, to exquisite paintings of eucalypts and other native Australian plant species.
He is a third-generation Blyth resident who has helped the community open its first cinema, he owns a 40-acre B&B cottage in Clare, Windmill Cottage, (which features 8000 plants and 1200 species including banksias, melaleucas, hakeas, grevilleas and eucalypts). He farmed at Blyth for 18 years before making the career change to artist in 1983.
In recognition of his efforts within the community, Ian has won an Australia Day Citizen of the Year award for Blyth, appeared on the cover of the Yorke Peninsula and Mid North White Pages in 2007 and prepared the Blyth Cinema’s winning entry for Westpac Australian Community Idol award in 2008.
In his ‘spare’ time however, Ian’s focus is firmly on painting & the environment. It’s a passion which started when he was a young boy and has continued; for the past 25 years he has propagated and planted tens of thousands of trees and shrubs.
Ian said when he was young his grandfather, “Papa Tilbrook” always had a few eucalyptus seedlings germinating in the window of his car shed and he also regularly accompanied his grandfather on Coolabah Club trips to visit other people’s plantations.
“I developed an early interest in the diversity of eucalypts (mainly WA species) from him. He had been growing eucalypts since about 1925,” Ian said. Described as a very gentle man, Ian said while his grandfather didn’t teach him anything specific, he wanted to be like him.
“He also gave me an interest in photography. His generation and my early exploits were about ornamental and bushy eucalypts, so the focus was mostly WA species. Over the past 20 years I’ve switched to local species and Trees For Life has played a large part in this.” Apart from visible outcomes such as enhancing his local environment, Ian says a major difference he’s noticed in the region since starting the revegetation work has been the increase of birdlife.
“I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in parrots, lorikeets and honeyeaters, with more sightings of migrating robins, whistlers, woodswallows and others,” he said.
Paintings of some of these beautiful birds can be seen at Ian’s Medika Gallery in Blyth, or people can log onto his website www.medikagallery.com.au
The website also features some of his latest works focusing on painting all of Australia’s eucalyptus species at the seedling stage, for which he has been receiving on-going support and advice from Eucalypts of South Australia author and Director/Head of Research of the Currency Creek arboretum, Dean Nicolle.
So next time you are visiting Blyth and admiring its local flora and fauna, call in and see Ian at the Medika Gallery or Blyth Regional Cinema. He’s bound to be working somewhere!
Medika Gallery Hours: Mon-Fri 10-5; Sat 2-5pm
Ph/Fax 08 88445175
A/H 08 88445025