Meet the artist behind Tassie’s best protest art
A FEW YEARS ago, Tasmanian artist and the creator of Keep Tassie Wild Josh Pringle began to notice fewer and fewer bumper stickers advocating for the state’s iconic forests.
“I knew that a lot of people still voted Green and supported the amazing work that environmental organisations were doing but that there was a stigma attached to the green triangle,” says Josh. “It just seemed to have too much baggage to be a widely embraced symbol.”.
Josh wanted to make an emblem that anyone, of any political persuasion, could stick on their car to show pride in Tasmania’s natural landscapes. And so, Josh’s now well-recognised, bright waratah stickers, emblazoned with the words ‘KEEP TASSIE WILD’ were born.
“I chose the Tasmanian waratah because it’s such a recognisable flower and is endemic to Tassie,” Josh says. A subspecies, the Tasmanian waratah (Telopea truncata) is noticeably different from others as it has only a few red flower heads that clench inwards.
“It’s a very beautiful and striking plant when you see the red popping throughout the bush. I think it’s scientific name translates to something like ‘to see from afar’.
“My mum has always made the pilgrimage up kunanyi [Mount Wellington] to the Organ Pipes track in summer while they’re flowering and she definitely instilled in me a love for the waratah.”
But Josh had no idea the design would be so well received. “It’s pretty amazing to see so many out and about on cars and laptops and backpacks around the place,” he says. I feel proud that I’ve created a symbol that is helping to make a community more visible.” .
The sticker has now been made into patches, which people have enthusiastically added to the collection they have on their denim jackets and bags.
The best part, Josh says, is how the symbol brings together a community of nature lovers. “I realised recently that some of the power in Keep Tassie Wild is the fact that when you see someone else with a sticker it reminds you that there are people around you that think like you.”
Most recently, Josh created a design for the
new campaign to restore Lake Pedder, which was flooded back in the early 1970s. “It’s interesting because Pedder is relatively unknown to younger generations of bushwalkers so the fact that you can explain to people that there’s this ancient lake with this massive quartzite beach hidden beneath this man-made lake is pretty rad.
“You get a bit tired of trying to stop the destruction of wild places, so the idea of restoring something and undoing the damage is pretty powerful.”
At the moment, Josh is in the process of starting an online journal for Keep Tassie Wild that he says will celebrate the best of Tasmanian nature writing. He’s also working on new sticker and patch designs.
“We’re increasing our stockists and my wife Lindsay is now helping out with Keep Tassie Wild so we’ll plod away at growing it in a nice organic way.
“The last thing I want is for it to get too big and stop being fun. I burn out easily so I’ll keep watch for that and anytime I see it coming I’ll slow down and head out to the mountains for a few days. We’ve got a little eight-month-old boy now, so he’s number one for sure.”