Mr Ponder is a close-up of a pelican I featured in my artwork called Fishing for Thanks. I’ve been drawn to these large birds as my spirit animal after seeing the film, Storm Boy, in 1976. There are many scenes in the movie revealing the pelicans’ nobility, wisdom, and courage.
In this painting I’ve captured the personality of a pelican I’d like to think of as Mr Ponder. It’s late afternoon, the sun casts long defined shadows tinged with pinkish yellow on the deck and behind the head of the pelican’s pin feathers. Without moving or being startled, Mr Ponder is an approachable soul. In the reflection at the top of his deep brown eyes you can see a silhouette of me taking his image.
Storm Boy, adapted from the book written by Colin Thiele, tells the story of a boy named Mike who saves and raises three pelican chicks. Mike names them Mr Proud, Mr Ponder and Mr Percival. And when the three birds can fend for themselves Mike sets them free. However, it’s Mr Percival who returns to support Mike so he can deal with his fear in having to attend a village school for the first time. The film’s release in 1976 was the year I finished primary school, and like Mike, I was fearing the start of a new school.
I found it interesting to learn that Mr Percival, from the original movie, passed away on 3rd September 2009 at the Adelaide Zoo. Zoo staff considered him to be a recognisable character with a distinct personality. This could change from friendly to aloof depending on the time of day and his proximity to the pelican feed bag.