Kristy-Ann Duffy - A Leaf's View, featuring the Oakview Leaf-Tailed Gecko

Professional wildlife artist, Kristy-Ann Duffy, better known as the Crazy Bird Lady, entered the Oakview Leaf Tailed Gecko for Queensland Conservation Council’s 2022 art competition. It was well outside her normal repertoire of feathered beauties. Named for the Oakview National Park which is its sole habitat just west of Gympie, the gecko is only seven or eight centimetres long and lives nowhere else in the world. Fortunately, its knobby protuberances and speckled colouring offer excellent camouflage amidst the leaf litter of the forest habitat also shown in the painting. Its cheeky face is not a welcome sight to crickets that are its favourite food. Kristy-Ann has included one in the painting to illustrate a whole ecosystem, not just a gecko. There is, then, a relationship at work in all her art: between subject and habitat, or subjects and their quirky habits, or between subject and specific, meticulously rendered vegetation. Check at her incredible art work here -

Kristy-Ann has always painted, and always loved birds. When she talks about her art, it’s clear that here is a woman with a driving passion for nature. She wants her art to touch an emotional flashpoint, so vibrant details ignite interest and admiration. In-depth ‘book learning’ and field work, deeply inform all her work. Although her art is found in galleries in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, her home is her first gallery; the walls are covered in magical images. One large painting of a family of Pale Headed Rosellas took her a whole year to paint. Other matching paintings that form groups of three or five are painted alongside one another rather than sequentially, so the palette stays true across the group. There’s the forty-spotted pardalote in its food tree, the rapidly disappearing White Gum found in only a few Tasmanian locations. This tiny golf-ball sized bird nips an incision in a twig, then sips the sweet manna that flows from the break. There are Hooded Plovers wading the foreshore in a painting that exudes the calm and serenity of an open littoral zone. Bold, Blue-faced Honeyeaters visiting her native garden oasis soon become subjects.

Southeast Queensland’s National Parks are another source of Kristy-Ann’s inspiration, Coolum, and Noosa in particular. But Toohey Forest on Brisbane’s southside is also a regular field trip destination. She believes custodians of such places, including Environment Ministers, need to aim for a careful balance between access and protection. She knows that even the smallest fragment of protected habitat can yield what she seeks – connection to something elemental, vital, and worth preserving for future generations. She seeks, immerses herself, then transmutes her joy using art to provoke a recognition in viewers that they, too, need to experience themselves as part of an interconnected network of life, part of something fragile and extraordinary. We need more than statistics, numbers and lectures in conservation, she says, ‘we need passion and stories’.