After spending the past three years painting urban landscapes such as New York, Sydney and Perth, he decided it was time to journey back to the vastness and beauty of the Kimberley.
‘I just felt a yearning to get back to the Outback; somewhere with lots of space and there’s not too many places that have as much space as the Kimberley,’ Darby said.
The painter travelled north with his wife Julie for a four-day break in July, which he said wasn’t nearly long enough, catching a seaplane to the Lodge built on sand dunes at the mouth of the Berkeley River.
With limited materials because of the small baggage allowance, Darby set out to work on daily studies of the landscape on paper, which he turned into large-scale canvas works back at his studio.
‘Obviously the subject is starkly different to what I’ve been working on recently, so it required a completely different pallet,’ Darby said.
‘A lot of my later urban landscape works were very dark and by contrast the Berkeley River was full of light and air, although the shape of the cliffs carved by the water reminded me of cities in a lot of ways.’
Darby said his affinity with nature began as a youngster growing up in Doubleview.
‘I used to jump out of bed before dawn and disappear into the bush near my home, which in those days was still there but now hard to imagine,’ he said.
‘I would disappear at 5am and come back just in time for breakfast and school.
‘I imagine if kids did that these days, parents would have the police out there looking for them, but I’ve always loved it and I used to wade through Jackadder Lake and Herdsman Lake with the tiger snakes and all of that.’
Darby said part proceeds from this latest exhibition would be donated to Youth Focus.
Where: Linton & Kay Galleries Perth
When: showing until December 3