Capturing the staggering diversity and beauty of Australia’s breath-taking natural geography, the illustrations showcased on the first fleet of Explore by GemLife motorhomes were commissioned to celebrate and inspire local travel.
The bold, eye-catching illustrations were created by artist Owen Gatley who has worked on a wide variety of projects for commercial clients all over the world including French luxury jeweler, Cartier, Apple, Adidas, Airbnb, and many leading publications including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Conde Nast Traveller, The Independent, The Sunday Times, and Washington Post.
Owen’s work is inspired by imagery from the 50s, 60s and 70s, in particular old comic strips, posters and advertisements, lending a sense of strength and vibrancy to his work that translates beautifully in the large-scale artwork created for Explore by GemLife.
“I’ve done illustrations for big billboards before, but this was the first time working on something 3D. I love working in the tourism sector and was very excited about the Explore project and working on a large-scale mobile medium, something that is travelling around and being seen in lots of different places,” Owen said.
The artworks feature panoramic scenes from four iconic Aussie travel destinations – the Daintree Rainforest and Glass House Mountains in Queensland, the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, and Nitmiluk National Park in the Northern Territory.
The motorhomes’ illustrations comprise four parts of a scene, each created to flow from one panel to the next.
“I wanted to create vignettes that flow nicely and look good together. I tried to give all the illustrations a slightly different character so that each had a distinct personality, but still complimented the others,” he said.
Owen has successfully created undeniably bold, unique illustrations that come together seamlessly with a unifying palette.
Pressed to choose a favourite, Owen admitted he had a soft spot for the Daintree artwork – his first piece in the series.
“The Daintree is probably my favourite. I love the vibrancy of the greens. It was the most fun to do. But I also like the Glass House Mountains piece. It has a bit more of a dusky, peaceful vibe,” he said.
With the Explore by GemLife illustrations aimed at inspiring travellers to get on the road to discover the diverse natural beauty of Australia was Owen – a keen traveller himself – inspired to add a few new destinations to his own bucket list?
“I’d like to visit Nitmiluk National Park. I’m into that type of landscape – canyons and rocky landscapes – so that’d be the first destination. I’d also like to go to the Daintree Rainforest,” he said.
The first of the Explore illustration series, the Daintree Rainforest, is captured in all its verdant, lush glory. Vibrant green hues dominate the artwork, with palm fronds, ferns and leafy, tropical vegetation framing a cascading waterfall and, in the foreground, a cassowary with its unmistakable vibrant blue neck and red wattle. On the other side of the motorhome, glimpses of the Coral Sea can be seen where the rainforest meets the coastline. Stretching across 1200 square kilometres, the Daintree is Australia’s largest rainforest and is home to many animal and plant species not found anywhere else in the world.
Glass House Mountains, Queensland
The Glass House Mountains in Queensland’s subtropical Sunshine Coast were the inspiration for the third of the Explore by GemLife illustrations. The craggy peaks of these unusual mountains tower above a shimmering landscape at dusk where hues of purple give way to soft oranges then muted blues stretching along the horizon. The Glass House Mountains, a cluster of thirteen distinctive rocky hills that rise abruptly from coastal plains, are listed on the Queensland and national heritage registers. The mountains – remnants of ancient volcanic plugs – range between 123 and 556 metres in height, overlooking scenic patchworks of pine plantations, bush and farmland.
Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road was the inspiration for the second of the Explore by GemLife motorhome illustrations. Featuring a sweeping sunset panorama of the Southern Ocean’s famously spectacular 12 Apostles, the artwork contrasts the vivid oranges and earthy brown tones of the surrounding limestone cliffs and coastal landscape with the soft yellows and apricots of the sky. The 243-kilometre Great Ocean Road is considered one of the world’s best driving routes, taking travellers along ruggedly beautiful cliffs, empty windswept beaches and soaring bluffs flanked by beautiful green countryside.
Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory
The majestic and spectacular Nitmiluk Gorge in the Northern Territory’s Nitmiluk National Park was the inspiration for the fourth of Owen’s illustrations. The most technically and tonally complex of the Explore artworks, the illustration shows the ancient sandstone gorge, carved out by the Katherine River over millennia, with brilliant blue skies overhead. The scenery is punctuated with pockets of rainforest flora, birdlife, including a brilliantly coloured rare Gouldian finch, a pair of canoers dwarfed by the expanses surrounding them, and the beautiful Leliyn (Edith Falls) on the back of the motorhome.