Joanne Simpson

Joanne Simpson- Dancing at the Billabong
Joanne Simpson at the opening ceremony

Dancing at the Billabong – a Celebration of Buddha’s Birthday

My overall concept for this artwork is one of joy – a celebration!

I began by choosing the Laughing Buddha as, to me, he embodies a feeling of happiness and contentment.

I then chose to place Buddha in an Australian rainforest to represent the Lumbini Garden with its abundance of white owers (in this case, frangipani and flannel flowers) bringing concepts of East and West together.

Stylised bodhi tree leaves hang like pennants from the tree along with colourful streamers and the branches are alight with lanterns.

Bathing Buddha are two native Australian dragons – a desert-dwelling bearded dragon to pour the warm water and the cooler rainforest water dragon pouring the cold – with Buddha becoming a waterfall. Lizards have an association with dreaming, promoting the energy of change – a rebirth perhaps.

The sulphur-crested and black cockatoos, along with the colourful king parrot and the amboyant lyrebird represent music and Buddha stands upon lotus owers (of which there are 7 in total) which oat in a billabong.
In fact, the overall image actually put me in mind of the iconic Australian song “Waltzing Matilda” which begins, “Once a jolly swagman sat by a billabong, under the shade of a coolibah tree”!

I wanted the painting to convey a feeling of happiness and nature with a mix of Australian and oriental themes with a message that was neither too cryptic or complicated.