Written by Binna Burra

November 23, 2021

Binna Burra Lodge is pleased to announce Dr Renata Buziak as our new ‘Artist-in-Residence’ on the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape, surrounded by the world heritage listed Lamington National Park in the scenic rim hinterland of the Gold Coast, Queensland.

‘Over the past two years since the devastation of the bushfires in September 2019 here at Binna Burra we have been focussed on the necessary repair and improvement of our existing hard infrastructure. That will continue, but now it’s also time for us to focus on the ‘soft infrastructure’ – those intangible assets that make up the ‘spirit of Binna Burra’ explained Steve Noakes, Chairperson of Binna Burra Lodge.

‘And we’re doing that with the creative support of the very talented Dr Renata Buziak who will be our official ‘Artist-in-Residence’ on the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape.

DR Buziak is a biochrome artist, researcher and educator working at the nexus of art and science, with a particular interest in nature. Her photographic research is based in plant life, and she has a PhD in Visual Art from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University.

By bending the rules of traditional photography by letting photographic materials interact with organic matter, Renata developed a unique process of creating art that she calls the biochrome. These images help her and others connect with nature. Her biochromes have been displayed in solo and group exhibitions, nationally and internationally – and currently feature at the Binna Burra Tea House at Lamington National Park.

Artists & the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape [1]

The Cultural Landscape, its surrounding rainforest, waterfalls and views, have inspired aesthetic responses from artists, photographers, writers and musicians since the Lamington National Park was officially gazetted by the State Government in 1915.

Since the founding of Binna Burra Lodge in the early 1930’s, artists’ camps were held to take inspiration from the scenic views of Egg Rock and Turtle Rock and the McPherson Range.

The Queensland Heritage Register notes:

‘Artists have depicted this region including important Queensland artist Vida Lahey (From Binna Burra, 1934), international artist Lois Beumer in her watercolour Rainforest Tangle 1986, and nationally acclaimed William Robinson in his landscape paintings.

The adjacent McPherson Range inspired well-known photographers including Arthur Groom, Doug Spowart and Charles Ernest Stanley Fryer, while Romeo Lahey took plate glass photographs at the outset of World War I to campaign for the area’s reservation as a national park. Books written about Binna Burra, include Arthur Groom’s 1949 work One Mountain After Another and Raymond Curtis’ 2003 book, Rainforest Journal. Curtis’ orchestral work ‘Journey Among Mountains’ (1989) also celebrates the area.

Creative Arts and Photographics Schools (annually to 1984 at least); and Green Fingers Weeks (from 1970). The schools attracted and inspired well-known tutors and participants such as poet Heather Farmer; clarinettist Don Burrows AO MBE; photographer Steve Parish; Mervyn Moriarty, founder of the Flying Art School in outback Queensland; and photographer Nev Male.’ [2]

Legacy and connection – Vida Lahey

 The ‘Artist-in-Residence on the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape’ honours the legacy of the eminent Queensland artist, Vida Lahey (1882-1968), painter and sister of Romeo Lahey, the co-founder of the National Parks Association of Queensland and Binna Burra Lodge.

Vida, Noel, and Romeo Lahey, 1916. (Beatrice “Bee” Belton, AWM P04598.001)

The eldest of the 12 Lahey children, Vida had studied at the National Gallery School in Melbourne. In 1914, the then 32-year-old Vida was working as an artist at her studio in Brisbane while Romeo was actively advocating for the 1915 establishment of the Lamington National Park. When WW1 broke out, Romeo, a civil engineer, was posted to the 11th Field Company Engineers while Noel, a saw-miller, was posted to the 9th Battalion.  ‘In 1916, Vida abandoned her artistic pursuits and travelled to London to establish a home base for her brothers and cousins who had also enlisted. After the war, Romeo attended a town-planning course at the University of London’s School of Architecture, returning to Australia in May 1919. Vida stayed in Europe, travelling to the Netherlands and France, and rekindled her passion for art. She returned home in 1920 and became a well-known and respected artist. Vida recorded the celebrations she had witnessed at the end of the war in a painting titled Rejoicing and remembrance, Armistice Day, London, 1918.’ (Australian War Memorial). [3]

A decade later, Romeo Lahey was a leader in the formation of the National Parks Association of Queensland (NPAQ) in 1930. While people closely associated with the NPAQ and the University of Queensland attended the first camps at Binna Burra in 1933, one year later, in 1934 the original company (Queensland Holiday Resorts) was incorporated at the same time Vida Lahey was being recognised as one of the ‘Women who are prominent in Brisbane’s Art World’. [4]

Vida’s work features in the Queensland Art Gallery Collection.  She campaigned for children’s art education and helped to establish the significant Queensland Art Fund with sculptor Daphne Mayo.

The Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art manages the Vida Lahey Memorial Travelling Scholarship [5] ($40,000), funded through the Estate of Shirley Lahey (1925 – 2011), the niece of Vida Lahey, whose specific bequest made this scholarship possible. A great admirer of Vida Lahey’s artistic and social work, Shirley honours not only the woman and her achievements but also the significance of travel in her life and art. For her entire life, Shirley was regular figure at Binna Burra Lodge and authored the 2003 book ‘The Laheys. Pioneer Settlers and Sawmillers.’

A patron of the arts in Queensland, James Duhig (1871-1965) was one of the founding Vice Presidents of the National Parks Association of Queensland under inaugural NPAQ President Romeo Lahey in 1930. He also served as President of the Brisbane branch of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia from 1926-38.

Vida Lahey was a key figure in the development of the Queensland Art Gallery and is considered to be one of the most interesting and influential figures in Queensland artistic development.

The program @ Binna Burra

  • The focus of the Artist-in-Residence on the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape is on the development of the creative process, facilitating cultural, environmental, and learning exchanges.
  • We will contribute to the Government’s ten-year vision which will see Queensland renewed and contribute to the state’s social, cultural, and economic future through arts, culture and creativity. [6]
  • We will be guided by the first Reconciliation Action Plan now underway at Binna Burra.
  • We will contribute to the post-bushfire renewal and transformation of the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape as local places as well as global digital spaces.
  • We will drive the celebration of history and heritage at Binna Burra as well as intergenerational social change.
  • We will share the stories of Binna Burra and celebrate the storytellers

Our Artist-in-Residency program …

  • Enables creative people to work in a new environment, often away from the restrictions and pressures of their everyday lives
  • Provides the time and space for creative people to develop, work and creatively explore new ideas
  • Offers local community, individual visitors, and groups a range of workshops, talks, opportunities for building networks and collaborations, exhibitions, art-science research, photographic classes, writers’ camps and more.
  • Is open to First Nations, local, national, and international creatives from diverse disciplines including film, literature, music, theatre, visual art, dance.

In 2022 Renata’s residency will include research and development of new work, workshops, and artist talks. Whilst studying photography, Renata learnt the complexities of photography rules, however, naturally gravitated towards pushing the boundaries and exploring alternative, more creative methods, which led her to develop the biochrome process. [7]

“Biochrome is a process that creates a biochrome image by fusion of organic and photographic materials, over an extended period,” Renata explained.


[1] Binna Burra Cultural Landscape – on the Queensland Heritage Register

  • The place is important because of its aesthetic significance.
  • The place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.
  • The place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.



[4] Vida Lahey profiled (centre front) in ‘Women who are Prominent in Brisbane’s Art World’, published in ‘The Telegraph’ 8 June 1934 also included Daphne Mayo, Enid Dickson, Caroline Barker, Gwendolyn Grant, Jeanette Sheldon, Mrs Charles Arthur Powell (Gladys Henrietta Dudley née Hobday), and Mrs. D. F. Cowell-Ham / 114526 / Courtesy: State Library of Queensland, Brisbane.





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