Libby Edwards Galleries & Art Consultancy

Luke Wagner

"John Cook's Steps No.2"
Oil and wax on canvas
76 x 122cm
$AUD 5,500.00

“See, every light in this area, what we call K Division, which in the Pacific, had a different character,” says John Cook, his cornflower-blue eyes aglow beneath a tidy thatch of grey hair. “No two lights were the same. So when a ship made a landfall and picked up a light, he knew exactly where he was. Tasman was a two-and-a-half-second even flash every five seconds.”

John’s renowned as one of the last of the “kerosene keepers”: he spent a good part of his 26-year career in Tasmanian lighthouses tending kerosene, not electrical, lamps. He joined the lighthouse service in 1969, after a spell in the merchant marine. Far from reviling work on isolated islands such as Tasman and Maatsuyker, Australia’s southernmost lighthouse, he discovered that he loved the solitude and delighted in the sense of purpose that lightkeeping gave him. He did two stints on Tasman, in 1969–71 and 1977, and was head keeper on Maatsuyker for eight years.

Views from the island almost defy description. The soaring, abrupt, south-eastern edge of the Tasman Peninsula looms to the north, across the Tasman Passage. The eye automatically falls on two features: The Blade, a tall, narrow promontory of dolerite that faces due south, and the towering, half-domed mass of Cape Pillar, which – at more than 250 m – is the site of Australia’s highest sea cliffs. To the west, Cape Raoul thrusts a dark, forbidding finger into Storm Bay and low-slung Bruny Island is a ribbon unfurled across the hazy distance.

excerpt from article in Australian Geopgraphic: