Dr John H. Jackson, The Art of the Rock Doctor

What makes the art of Dr John H. Jackson unique is that he doesn’t paint what he sees: he paints what you and I can’t see—the rockscapes beneath our feet.

An artist and geologist for most of his working life. He has also been a senior executive in some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

His fascination with painting what lies beneath us began years ago in Africa where he has worked in South Africa, Uganda and Mali.

As he tells it: “There I found people who had little or no knowledge of what lies below the soil. So, to get their attention I introduced them to colourful paintings I made on bed-sheets and told them stories about the rocks that provided their jobs that supported their families.”

“It proved very effective. So much so, that soon I was being asked by the Africans if I could turn my paintings into kaftans.”

Each of Dr Jackson’s paintings—wherever they are done—has a story behind it. So, when he returned to Australia in 2003 he decided that he should share his stories of the underworld with a wider audience through painting.

He moved to a small farm near Aratula in Queensland’s Scenic Rim where he set up a studio to indulge in his first love since he was a boy—painting.

A former Executive with Shell, Santos, Bond Petroleum and several other major international companies, his highly visual teaching methods became well recognised and apart from using them widely in the outdoors of Africa he also used them to teach Iraq Petroleum Ministry executives.

He has presented his paintings, together with their stories, on sites across Africa, Portugal, United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and throughout Australia. Audiences have included students, engineers, earth scientists, accountants, drilling crews, medical doctors, teachers, local councillors, politicians, farmers, tourists, lawyers, and maintenance workers.

His art has also “branded” academic, petroleum and coal conferences and has made television appearances on the ABC’s 7:30 Report and Four Corners, the Seven Network’s Great South Eastand The Nine Network’s Extra. John’s artwork has also appeared at a geoart exhibition at the University of Trieste (Italy), two exhibitions in Seattle, Washington, in Australian and overseas newspapers, and in a number of major video presentations.

His work has been acquired by the University of New England for its collection and by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association. It also has a strong following among private collectors in Australia and overseas.

Dr Jackson still practices as a geologist, consulting to a Canadian oil and gas company which is exploring in India and Australia.

In 2013 John was awarded the APPEA Gold Medal, The Reg Sprigg Medal, for outstanding service to the Australian Petroleum Industry including his work with the environment, teaching, art and geological stories.