Saffron Schafer - Expression through art
Like her grandmother and mother before her, Saffron has always expressed her views through art. For these women, images are a way of processing their feelings about what is happening in the world. Saffron has a light-filled studio dedicated to celebrating life through the colours and forms that capture her imagination. That creativity is partly inspired by nature, and she speaks with warmth of family holidays at Fraser Island National Park, floating down the crystal-clear waters of Eli Creek to the sea, wondering what the eels are doing as she floats to the sea. She also recalls drifting past an Azure Kingfisher looking particularly splendid in its orange and blue feathers, entirely at home in its habitat.
Saffron is energized by such encounters, feeling that they “re-set” something in her being. She is restored to nature, reconnected to something important and vital, something bigger than herself. Time becomes not a digital readout, not a midwife’s night shift, but the ebb and flow of tides and the movement of the sun across the sky. She approves of the regulations and precautions that the management of Fraser Island National Park have put in place to protect both humans and animals.
When Saffron and her partner, Hugh, moved into their new house, it butted up against thick, biodiverse natural forest. Very quickly, large swathes of it were cleared to extend the housing development. Not a tree remained, though there was a nature strip that had been left, fortunately very close to their half acre. The sheer violence of the grinding and shredding left Saffron intensely aware of the difficulty of balancing the necessity for human homes with the habitat requirements of displaced, often endangered, creatures.
Saffron now feels strongly that regulation of property developers needs to be more like that found on Fraser Island. People must live somewhere, she says, but the loss of established forests is not well addressed by planting of saplings from the free tree scheme the local council promotes. It is a negative for humans and animals alike. Residential areas need not be so entirely incompatible with the retention of habitat corridors and preservation of larger forest trees. Needless to say, Saffron and Hugh have plans to revegetate and restore a portion of their large block through native plantings that will attract butterflies, as well as help the local Rock Wallabies and Grey Kangaroos that have not quite disappeared.