General News

Dr Jackson will display his geo-art at the Old Kirk in the new year. Image: contributed

Oceans, Lakes and Streams

Dr John Jackson, also known as ‘the Rock Doctor’, delves into geology’s turbulent history, through his geo-art and storytelling. He’ll take you from deep in prehistoric oceans to towering mountains, through giant rifts and onto inland seas.

The powerful stories in rocks are transformed into vibrant, improvised geo-art that unlocks unimagined secrets in our landscapes and beaches. The Clarence Valley stories are ‘to-drawer’!

This unique art exhibition will be on display in the Old Kirk, Yamba Museum, next to the Gold Club, from December 30 to January 27. Entry is $5 for adults and children under 15 are free. As you enter via the Yamba Museum you have the bonus of viewing the Museum’s many fascinating displays. The official opening will be held December 31, from 5-7pm, easing into New Year celebrations.

I was curious how Dr Jackson came to paint in this manner, and he told the story of his appointment to a remote area in Uganda. No one spoke English, so how was he to explain what they needed to do? He noticed ladies wearing brightly painted dresses, so he indicated he needed calico and three different coloured tins of paint. From there he proceeded to paint the different layers of the earth that they would be digging through, the air pockets, etc. This created such interest not only in the wider community but also by delivery vans:

He was working in South Africa, Uganda and Mali. He told people stories about the rocks that provided their jobs and supported their families through colourful paintings on large panels of cloth” – Institute of Earth and Man at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, 2017.

The colours and intricate patterns depict the earth’s story, not only are they ‘coloured abstracts they are educational’. His paintings—wherever they are done—have a geological story behind them. When he returned to Australia in 2003, he moved to a small farm near Aratula in Queensland’s Scenic Rim where he set up a studio to indulge in his first love since he was a boy—painting. He now lives in the Clarence Valley, close to where he originally started geology.


He has presented his paintings, together with their geological stories, on sites across Africa, Portugal, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and throughout Australia. Audiences have included students, engineers, earth scientists, accountants, drilling crews, medical doctors, teachers, local councilors, politicians, farmers, tourists, lawyers, university students and maintenance workers.

His art, also “branded” academic, has been viewed at industry conferences and television appearances on the ABC Regional TV, the Seven Network’s Great South East and the Nine Network’s Extra. John’s artwork has also appeared at exhibitions in Trieste (Italy), Seattle (Washington), Cape Town (South Africa), Brisbane, Canberra, and Perth. His next exhibition is due to open in Luanda, Angola in 2022. It will tell the story of the birth of the South Atlantic Ocean.

John’s work has been acquired by the University of New England, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and several corporate and private collectors in Australia and overseas. In 2013 he was awarded the Australian Petroleum Industry’s highest award, it’s Gold Medal (The Reg Sprigg Medal) for outstanding service to industry, art, the environment, and education.

In 2017 John was elected to the Board of Trustees at the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, where he continues to be involved in earth science education.

Dr Jackson is an exceptionally good geologist and petroleum executive, an influential industry advocate, a gifted raconteur, and a creative artist and educationalist.” – D.Knox, APPEA Chairman & Santos CEO, SA.

As part of his exhibition at Yamba Museum, John is holding two workshops – ‘How Old Is the Clarence?’ on the Wednesday January 12 and Tuesday January 18, from 11am – 12 noon. Entry is $5 adults, children under 15 free. Numbers are limited so please text 0418 195 870 with your name and preferred date, or email: [email protected].

Everyone is welcome to join the launch party for his exhibition early on New Year’s Eve – from 5pm to 7pm at Yamba Museum.

Gai Pritchett