following her art’s desires
If she wasn’t painting wild animals and birds, artist Angela Parr, 62, would most likely be rescuing them, healing them, or advocating for them.
“The first movie I ever saw was Born Free. When I was six, I thought I was Joy Adamson,” says Angela, who has since established the beautiful Bingara Gallery in Knockrow. “I would be the one who dragged home the bird with the broken wing and the frog found in the gutter.”
But while wildlife was always going to be part of her life’s work, so was also setting up artistic foundations with her drawing, where her childhood in Geelong gave her space to develop creatively.
Living and working in Byron’s hinterland now provides an ideal backdrop for both passions – the area’s forests and coastline are home to the colourful subjects of her many paintings and drawings. Bingara Gallery is located behind the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital (previously the Macadamia Castle), and she donates a portion of every artwork sale to the hospital, and uses her art to educate, inspire and raise funds.
Angela’s career as an artist began with a sketch of galloping horses she made as a child – the image was so realistic her parents doubted the work was hers. She studied languages and went on to become a high school teacher, only dabbling in painting until 15 years ago, when she “started getting serious” about her talent. Five years ago, she and her husband bought their five-acre plot and Bingara was born.
The gallery is open by appointment and clients have come from as far as Tasmania.
She is a founding committee member of Open Studios, Ballina, Byron & Beyond Arts Trail and, in 2014, trekked along the Oodnadatta Track with camels to raise money for Swags for Homeless.
Along the way, her art has steadily gained a following, not least a recent 1.8m-wide commissioned painting of yellow-tailed black cockatoos. Her clients gave her carte blanche to do as she pleased, their trust and belief in her a hard-won fillip that “felt really good.”
It’s a relief after the intensity of Covid, when she says she couldn’t find a creative bone in her body. Instead, she turned to gardening, “earthing”, as she calls it, her way through the pandemic.
Then February 2022’s floods hit, thankfully sparing her land but destroying the homes of many of her friends who lost their possessions, pets and livestock. She has relatives in Coraki, a township all but wiped out in the deluge. Angela and her partner donated what they could and volunteered where they could – an effort that she hopes added to the collective swell of community action that came to define the region after the disaster.
Most recently, a piece of her art was donated to help raise funds for Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue facilities, which were badly affected by the floods.
Painting by painting, Angela’s creativity is gradually boosting both wildlife awareness and all-important funding.
“Artwork makes a difference,” she says. “Any little helps. You can’t help everybody but you can help some.”