Little Maggies - The Story Behind the Series

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Although my childhood was a city one, many weekends and holidays were spent with my cousins, in the bush just inland from the south coast of NSW. My cousins lived in an incredible two storey stone house that my aunty and uncle had built themselves. It was surrounded by tall gums and plenty of Australian wildlife. The bedrooms were on the second floor and a giant wooden verandah wrapped around both floors.

When I was seven, my cousin Josh, then aged five or six, had hand-reared a pet magpie. This magpie’s arrival into Josh’s family was unique. In what must have been one of his earliest attempts at flying, the little magpie came hurtling in from a nearby gum tree, through the open bedroom window of Josh’s parents and crash landed onto the end of their bed. Far from the beautiful song maggies are so well known for, while trying to find his brakes as he tumbled across their bed, this maggie let out a giant screech that apparently sounded very much like ‘Greeeeeeeeeeeeeg!’. With such an introduction, only one name seemed appropriate and the little bird became affectionately known as "Greg".

Josh and Greg

Greg was devoted to Josh and would fly several hundred metres from the house to the end of the driveway throughout the school week to wait in the gum trees for the school bus to arrive. As soon as Josh and his brother stepped off the bus Greg would swoop down and land on Josh’s shoulder. Together, with the two cats and two dogs who also liked to wait for the bus, they would all head home up the rocky steep dirt driveway. Once they reached the house, Josh would dig for worms in the family veggie patch as Greg waited impatiently for his afternoon tea or they’d follow the creek that ran through the property to explore the surrounding bush together. Greg would dart from tree to tree as he followed Josh’s tracks or sit securely on his shoulder or on top of his head. He returned the following year as an adult with a mate and stayed perched in a tree just outside the kitchen. There he chatted with Josh’s Mum for a couple of days. Then he flew away with his mate and never returned.

He had found his feet, his wings and presumably a voice suitable for courting. Greg, the little bird with such a big personality and the landscape of my cousin’s childhood home inspired the ‘Little Maggies’ artworks.

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