Octopuses Garden

An extraordinary 'art in nature' project.

Photographic Art Exhibition in an octopuses garden - undersea art from under the shade of the Busselton Jetty in South West Australia by marine photographic artist Peter Strain.

Current  Exhibition dates – Friday 4 Dec  till Sun 10 Jan 2016

at ART GEO GALLERY in Busselton, Western Australia

The beginning   'The Octopus Story'

ART IN NATURE - Peter Hugh Strain’s new exhibition has its genesis in two previous very successful marine wildlife-art photographic exhibitions.

Creatures of the Giant Tides” and

Line of Sight – art meets science on Australia’s Kimberley coast”.

  Previous exhibition by Peter Hugh  Strain

“Line of Sight – art meets science on Australia’s Kimberley coast”   ran for three months at the West Australian Maritime Museum. Also shown at the Albany Museum and Notre Dame   University

Following the success of two previous 'art in nature' exhibitions based on the Kimberley coast in northwest Australia, Peter commenced a new collection based on photography under South West Australia's historic Busselton jetty.

Through the intervention of an inquisitive octopus, the new exhibition became … 

in an octopuses garden   by Peter Hugh Strain 

His story… I commenced diving and photographing using the same ‘nature to human aesthetic’ like my previous collections style - 'anthropomorphic and fine art values' that had worked so well in the Kimberley based collections. I was working toward a 'Line of Sight' style exhibition as to how we perceive art in nature.

Then "Freckles" insinuated himself into my work and ultimately 'my entire way of seeing the inshore underwater world'.  Freckles is an Octopus. He is also a friend of mine.

Rich and colourful life at Busselton jetty in an octopuses garden                                                                                            

'Freckles' the octopus peeping out from his octopuses garden

It happened like this. After a few days photographing and filming under the jetty I came across an octopus in what I immediately recognized as the fabled 'octopuses garden'.  Although…

my main forte is macro marine photography,

I spent time getting the octopuses garden shot thinking it was worth having for a general stock photo shot. It took a couple of hours to friend up the octopus so I could work close to him.  He even eventually came out of his hole and posed on the outside of his underwater remnant jetty piling to pose amongst the colorful soft corals and sponges comprising his beautiful garden.

Next day I had moved on and was concentrating on photographing a tiny little fish who was flashing spectacular iridescent colours as...

...he danced around a to impress his female partner.

Male Blenny flashing colours  to impress a nearby  mate        

Anthropomorphic wildlife-art  (tunicates under Busselton jetty). Emoticons from the sea

I often stay working on the one shot often for a couple of hours because...

...macro photography of moving animals takes patience,,,

to get a gallery level wildlife-art shot.  A movement out of the corner of my eye of something looming near me shook me for a moment.There balanced on two legs on the sea floor and...

...peering into where my lens pointed was the octopus. 

He had come out of his hole travelled about twenty meters to find me and seemed intrigued as to what I was looking at for so long. He just stayed there without fear of me. I realized he had made the decision that I was not predatory.

From that point on he would join me every day and hang around me as I photographed.  I learned so much from him. One of the keys is that…

he always moves to gain eye contact with me when he is near.

And he can communicate his sense of trust or annoyance by changing colour.

Of course I googled him and found out amazing facts about the octopus.  As clever as a smart pet dog. The reasoning ability of a six year old child.

And now I am convinced - octopuses have personality. He showed me things. He teased me, made me laugh and even annoyed me sometimes.  But he became my friend and caused me to wonder how marine animals see things. In some ways…

this is as much Freckle’s exhibition as mine.

                          Freckles the Octopus                                                                               

Rich and beautiful characters and colours in an octopuses garden

And by extension and my recent photographic adventures under the Busselton jetty, I feel many of the other marine animals here have personality.  And they play a lot.  And have fun.  And occasionally get eaten.  After all it is the real world.   Oh and there is art… 

under the sea   -      in an octopuses garden.  

This new exhibition is a travelling exhibition with…

…four high definition multi screen projections

accompanied with 50 themed photographic prints. 

It has already evolved to become a fascinating ongoing  new social experiment entailing ‘art in nature’, including raising the questions, do we believe that marine animals have personalities like humans and is there such a thing as a nature to nature art aesthetic – or put simply…

… do marine animals share an aesthetic of art similar to humans 

…and if so does this go beyond mere survival and  ecological functionalism.

Interperative photo art of a Goatfish

           Incredible coloured o patterns from the skin  of a nudibranch                                 

Macro photograph of patterns on a tiny starfish

Through experimenting with macro photography and manipulating photo art this exhibition has already become a social experiment to some degree to see what the photographic artist and the audience can learn from what Freckles the Octopus other marine life see under the sea. 

Thus may we open our eyes to many things we share with marine life on our marine shores. 

Soft corals, sponges and other marine life under the Busselton jetty with the biological data removed to experiment with art patterns from nature.. 

50 still photographic art prints with

a 3 projector installation in an adjacent gallery.

At the 

Art Geo Gallery in Busselton, Western Australia

What do we see in an octopus’s garden? What do marine creatures see in an octopuses garden? Peter Hugh Strain  gives us an anthropomorphic and 'art in nature' approach to wildlife photography and media with a unique new approach.


Exhibition dates were  – Friday 4 Dec  till Sunday 10th Jan 2016



Some raw trial footage from 'in an octopuses garden' - the extraordinary marine world near the Busselton Underwater Observatory.

Contact Peter Hugh Strain 0421553785   peter.strain@westnet.com.au