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Something to Look Forward to – Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm

Above lettering by Jude Dias
All images © Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm

Enjoy a unique experience at Broome’s working pearl farm. Until recently, it has been an exclusive pearling village accessible only to our pearl farm team and the local Bardi people. In an industry first, Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm “opened the gate” and invited travellers to share in this very special place, recently described as “one of the most unique destinations in Australia”.

Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm by Salty Wings
Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm by Salty Wings

Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, a family run business on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula, offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience life on a working pearl farm.  Visit us for the day, or stay a night or two on the Pristine Kimberley coast in our camping, glamping, or original Pearler’s Shacks.

Waterfall Reef Tour
Waterfall Reef Tour

Join one of our many tours on offer including our Pearl Farm Discovery Tour or jump in one of our fast boats to discover the amazing tidal phenomena on our Giant Tides or Waterfall Reef Sea Safari’s.

Learn all about the importance of pearl shell to the local ‘Bardi’ people and the ancient art of Riji pearl shell carving.

Enjoy a meal in our Homestead Restaurant with sweeping views of the bay and take a dip in the pool, even try the little known delicacy of pearl meat fresh from the farm! We offer the rare opportunity to purchase pearls direct from the very waters in which they grow with the guarantee of provenance and purity.

Tour group watching technician seeding and harvesting a live oyster at the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.
Tour group watching technician seeding and harvesting a live oyster at the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.

Who are your biggest creative influencers?

“I’m not sure I would say they influence my art exactly but learning about Picasso as a young child always stuck with me. Quite simply put, he did his own thing. He was similar to the Impressionist that way, they were unbridled and refused to conform, NO rules apply. That’s how I always felt about my art. I learned the rules but have never really stuck to them. Areas I draw inspiration from include the Japanese Ink Wash painting known as Sumi-e and modern watercolour. I’m pretty inspired by any artist who can create their own definite style…where you can look at a piece and go “oh that’s definitely a…so & so”.”

Wall mural at the Aarli Restaurant in Broome

Do you have a favourite subject to paint?

“I have an affinity for anything that represents a connection to the ocean – fish, pearl divers, all manner of sea life and spectacular Kimberley coastline. If I had to choose one thing to paint the rest of my life…. it would be a hard choice but I think it would be Brahman bulls. The reason being every bull has its own character, its own personality comes through. It’s almost like doing a portrait of a person. It’s fun for me to step back and see what personality type has come through in each painting. I do also love a good crayfish painting…. I get to use every possible colour in my palate!”

Midnight Brahman
Midnight Brahman

You’ve mentioned that you lived overseas for a bit. What made you move back to Broome?

“I think I just got to an age where I realized you can travel all over the world but you can only live in and make one place your home. Broome was my choice, the majority of my family and friends are still in Broome and it is where I always pictured raising a family. Broome, like a lot of the Kimberley, is just a wonderful lifestyle. I love that I can begin and end my day at the beach.  I knew I wanted to pursue my art, and being home, surrounded by all the things that have always inspired me, was a large contributing factor. We all leave to explore the world, but the Broome lifestyle more often than not draws us all back.”

'Stag' inspired by Canada
'Stag' inspired by Canada

What do you do for fun in your spare time?

“Spare time is a little limited with a newborn, haha! We still do our best to go camping and get out of Broome and enjoy the rest of the Kimberley when we can. I’m still a beach bum, I always say going for a swim in the ocean is like pressing life’s reset button. My partner is an amazing cook, our life revolves a lot around eating and having big cook ups with friends often using fresh fish, crabs and the produce we have caught on the most recent adventure.”

Painting at Beagle Bay
"The Hard Hat"
"The Hard Hat"

I did notice that you feature a lot of coastal subject and cattle. Why do you focus on these two categories?

“Having grown up in the Kimberley and spending time on the ocean, fishing, camping, exploring stations and communities it’s pretty easy to draw inspiration from the Kimberley’s sea creatures, characters, and colours. The coastal subjects provide endless inspiration for me, I could spend my whole life painting sea creatures and my list would never get shorter. I really enjoy getting messages from people who share the same love as me asking me to add certain fish or creature to my collection; it’s like creating my own little aquarium. The ocean is like a secret world and I get to share a little of it on peoples walls.

As for bulls, those big doe eyes looking at you, there is so much personality I truly believe it’s the closest thing to painting a person. They are just a super fun subject to paint, and I don’t even know myself what type of personality will come through in each painting so there is always an element of excitement in it for me.”

No place like home
No place like home

You must have visited some cool places. Besides The Kimberley where would you say your favourite place is?

“Canada: Whistler & Vancouver, I lived there for the best part of 7 years. Although it was the complete opposite in terms of climate, it offered me the same connection to nature and the outdoor life that appeals to me here in Broome. Snowboarding became a big part of my life and it was amazing how many other Broome people share the same connection with that place. I was always bumping into Broome folk over there.”

Sunset fishing near Broome
Sunset fishing near Broome

Where is your favourite “go-to” spot in The Kimberley?

“I travelled a lot overseas in my twenties so I am still discovering parts of the Kimberley myself. The Arrow pearl farm at Beagle Bay is my absolute favourite. I am lucky enough to stay there and be hosted by a wonderful couple whose passion and knowledge of the area is inspiring. You can go diving, whale watching, crabbing, fishing in the ocean and in the creek, watch the sunset from a ‘secret spot’ and end your night sitting around the campfire eating whatever is you caught during the day. I have often used this spot as a creative getaway. I recently introduced my 6-month-old son to the spot which was a really special moment for myself and my partner, even at 6 months old I can tell it is already his favourite spot too.”

“Gem, thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us! I have so enjoyed our conversations and having the opportunity to talk about your work.”

~ Beth

 You can see more of Gem’s work on her website and make sure you follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

From Gem's "Under the Sea" Collection, available on her website.
From Gem's "Under the Sea" Collection, available on her website.

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