Remembering Richard and Carol Green
10 November 2015
Last night I heard news that I had feared. Relentless adventurers Richard and Carol Green had been killed in a helicopter crash with a friend, filmmaker John Davis. They were returning from an environmental protest at Breeza, south of Tamworth and disappeared.
Green by name and green by nature, the two of them were absolutely dedicated to making the world a better place. Richard's remarkably captivating images of pristine wilderness have proved to be both memorable and influential. He made them freely available to promote ecological causes and toured an exhibition of his panoramic images with great success around regional galleries.
I received a news email from Richard only last Friday night and was pleased to hear what they had been up to. More trips, more beautiful photographs, more adventures. Drought in the far north and previously visited places no longer the same. Visiting his grandson and eldest daughter in Melbourne for a first birthday party. Very busy grandparents enjoying life to the full.
Richard mentioned in his email that one of his aerial forest photographs, showing the koala habitat inland from Bega, which is being threatened by logging, was made available free of charge to promote the cause. The photograph in his email captured an aerial view of the Gardens of Stone north of Lithgow. Richard wrote, "which various energy companies would happily desecrate with open-cut coal-mines and fracking wells." A man of strong opinions, which didn't always bring him favour, and not one to kowtow to authority, he ruffled feathers sometimes. He could be abrasive and impatient with bureaucracy, characteristics countered by Carol's warmth and preparedness to tell him to shut up. Carol painted and drew, and eloquently captured the landscape they roamed through, while Richard caught the moment digitally, waiting for perfect light conditions.
I had a lot to do with Richard and Carol when the Library showed an exhibition of his hugely successful photographs in 2008. The public loved them. They left rapturous comments about them in the visitors' book. The exhibition led to a self-produced major book documenting his work which, again, the public consumed with great enthusiasm. It was typical of Richard to produce his own book and to do so to such technically demanding standards. He obsessed about it and of course crafted a gorgeous volume which I will wistfully enjoy in the years ahead. He loved technology, he had made his fortune from it, hence the EC135 helicopter and his great cameras. His obsessive eye for detail was revealed in the way he stitched the individual images into rich tableaux to create iconic Australian images. He also loved his tavern clocks, a museum standard collection,which he tinkered with and craftily maintained. The house ticked along to the rhythm of these rarities and no doubt they are now slowing and stopping in his absence.
Richard's gift of photographs to the National Library after his exhibition was a generous act. You can enjoy them in our catalogue.
Richard and Carol loved adventure, motor bikes and travelling and most of all flying to places where non-Indigenous Australians had probably not been before. Creating a vision of the unspoilt to haunt us in a messy, greedy world they succeeded in making many people take pause and think about the world we are losing. People sometimes say, in reference to the passing of an adventurous spirit, they died doing what he loved. Richard and Carol certainly lived life to the full, loved their helicopter trips, camping out under the stars and will be sorely missed by the many that knew them. Their images, however, will live on.