Born in 1955 to parents Clifton Ernest Pugh and Marlene Loraine Harvey, Dailan was raised in an artistic household in bushland near Melbourne. Playing in the bush and raising orphaned native animals developed a deep love and appreciation of the Australian environment. This was broadened by extensive travels around Australia and beach holidays.

Early 1970’s Dailan pursued a pottery apprenticeship and pen and ink drawings of ground orchids.

Mid 1970’s Dailan worked making mud bricks and as builders labourer. Wrote and illustrated the book ‘Mudbricks, Making and Laying’.

In the late 1970s Dailan moved to northern NSW to live near rainforest. Dailan did pen and ink rainforest drawings and became involved in rainforest conservation, being arrested for hindering passage of a bulldozer at Terania Creek at Australia’s first forest blockade in 1979. He bought and ran the Cawongla General Store for 2 years, also co-founding Fundamental Foods in Lismore.

In the early 1980s Dailan resumed building work. His rainforest drawings were used for posters, pamphlets, T-shirts and books in rainforest campaigns within Australia and, through the Rainforest Information Centre, around the world. Dailan co-authored and illustrated the book ‘A Guide to Rainforests of Far North East NSW’, and contributed drawings to ‘A Year of Orchids’.

In the mid 1980s Dailan sold drawings through local galleries and prepared visitor interpretive materials (signs, pamphlets) for national parks. He contributed a chapter for, and illustrated, ‘Discovering New South Wales Rainforests’, and illustrated ‘Thinking Like a Mountain’. He wrote and illustrated kids activity books; ‘Forests’, ‘Deserts and Woodlands’, ‘Wetlands and Heaths’, and ‘Getting to Know Botanical Gardens’. At this time he expanded to gouache painting.

In the late 1980s Dailan became increasingly involved in forest conservation, preparing various national park proposals for rainforests in the upper Clarence valley and co-ordinating legal proceedings to protect a key area of old-growth forest. He was co-founder of the North East Forest Alliance in 1989.

In the 1990s Dailan primarily dedicated his time to forest conservation, being involved in site assessments, research, submissions, networking, blockades, public relations, lobbying, and legal proceedings. He represented conservation interests on numerous state and federal Government committees, including the Federal National Forest Policy Advisory Committee and NSW Resource and Conservation Assessment Council.

Dailan’s work, along with his colleagues, ultimately resulted in a doubling of the reserve system in north-east NSW, with over a million hectares protected from logging. In the early 1990s Dailan illustrated ‘An Interim Guide to Identification of Insectivorous Bats of South-eastern Australia’ and co-authored and illustrated the kid’s book ‘Secrets of the Rainforest’.

In the early 2000s Dailan was involved in native vegetation reforms for the Richmond River valley, establishment of sanctuary zones in the Cape Byron Marine Park and a range of conservation issues around Byron Bay in north-east NSW. He became President of the Byron Environmental and Conservation Organisation in 2002.

Dailan was awarded the Peter Rawlinson Conservation Award by the Australian Conservation Foundation in 2001, for outstanding contributions to environmental conservation. He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2003 for services to forest conservation. The frog Philoria pughii was named in 2004 in recognition of conservation efforts. Dailan began refocusing on his artwork, starting with pastel life drawings, then pastel and gouache landscapes during extensive travels around Australia.

In the mid 2000s Dailan pursued full time oil painting, focusing on the marine environment. His first solo exhibition was “Through the Looking Glass” at Murwillumbah’s Escape Gallery in June 2008, opened by Dr. David Lloyd. His second exhibition “Marine Wonderland” was at the Lismore Regional Art Gallery in July 2009 opened by the federal Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts, Peter Garrett.

Around this time Dailan won 3 awards for his painting: Byron Underwater Festival 2007 Marine Visions Art Competition – the Creative Flair Award, Tweed Naturally 2007 – second place, Byron Underwater Festival 2008 Marine Visions Art Competition – the Environment Awareness Award.

In the early 2010s Dailan completed a series of paintings on River Red Gums and cockatoos, though he again became increasingly diverted by his activism, focusing on preparing a marine park proposal for federal waters off Byron Bay, auditing logging operations on both public and private lands, and major development issues around Byron Bay.

Dailan’s environmental activism is detailed here.
Dailan’s forestry work is in part referred to on NEFA’s website: nefa.org.au

Artist statement

Being raised in an artistic household in the bush created the strong nexus between art, natural environments and conservation that has directed me down life’s path. I moved to north-east NSW in the late 1970’s specifically to live near the rainforest I had become obsessed with while doing pen and ink drawings in north Queensland.  My drawing led me to research its species and functioning, then my knowledge led me into active rainforest conservation. I thus used a combination of my artwork, research and activism to promote and protect rainforests, while using the rainforests to develop my pen and ink drawings. 

When I moved to live amongst massive ancient eucalypts (adjacent to rainforest) I began to paint them with gouache while learning about their importance as essential homes for a plethora of animals, then I reacted to their plight and was diverted down the path of protecting oldgrowth forests for over a decade. I relied upon research and activism to promote their conservation, leaving little time for my artwork.  

Recently my efforts to conserve and understand marine environments led me to return to artwork to promote their conservation. At the same time I used the marine environment to develop my oil painting style. Most recently I started painting River Red Gums, both because of their need for protection and as a means of further developing my style and transitioning to the terrestrial realm.
This time I am resisting the temptation to be totally diverted by research and activism and instead I am focusing on developing my oil painting. Though I often get sidetracked.

My style is directed by the medium I am using and the environment I am depicting, while being limited by my desire to reasonably depict reality. I principally use design, natural patterns and perspective to compose my works. My explorations with oils are relatively new and I am still developing both my skills and style. I wait to see where the environment will lead me next.