LANDSCAPE: Richard Gates takes a break from unpacking his panoramic photographs and digital photographs.
LANDSCAPE: Richard Gates takes a break from unpacking his panoramic photographs and digital photographs.

Watchdog stands guard over Evans

By RACHEL SCOLLAY

IT'S no secret that Evans Head identity Richard Gates is passionate about his town.

Many people know him as a vigilant council watchdog, who led the ratepayers rebellion in June against dramatic rate hikes for Evans Head.

He is also a vocal critic of overdevelopment.

However, Richard also wants to celebrate his town, leading a push to reprint and revise the 1995 history book, Wings At War.

Richard moved to the town from Sydney as a six-year-old boy, when his father took over the local chemist.

When his father died a few years later, he moved with his mother back to her homeland in Canada, where he completed high school.

His mother and father had met during World War II, when Richard's father was in the air force. Richard attributes his keen interest in the Evans Head aerodrome to his family's aerial history.

He speaks fondly of playing amongst the old hangars and remnant planes left over the war ? when he would make a boat out of aluminium wing tanks, running a chenille bedspread up the mast and setting sail on the river.

His most recent aerodrome endeavour is just as creative. He has obtained a grant to reprint and revise Wings At War.

Richard has co-written the book's new sections with one of its original authors, Jean Haughton-James. Jean was one of the first women to serve at Evans Head during World War II.

The revised book will be launched at the Great Eastern Fly In, at Evans Head from December 30 to January 2.

But it's not Richard's first foray in writing.

Within his chosen fields of neuroscience and psychology, Richard completed his masters, through Monash University, on the echidna and its visual system, and wrote his PhD on experimental epilepsy.

In fact, you could say Richard is something of a renaissance man, with a range of eclectic interests and his fingers in many pies.

His creative work is currently emblazoned on the walls of Evans Head Paperbark Gallery, with seven monster panoramic scenes measuring 1.5 metres wide, and an array of A3 digital prints of plants and animals of the area.

Richard was the winner of this year's top photo prize at the Coraki Tea Tree Artsfest.

The photographic exhibition runs until January 16 at the Paperbark Gallery.



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