"KANGAROOS & CONTINENTS"

The iconic tessellation of kangaroos from well-known tessellation artist Bruce Bilney of Australia

Bruce Bilney's tessellation of kangaroos and australia
Bruce Bilney's tessellation of kangaroos and australia

Mr. Bilney has been doing tessellations for decades. His work is best-known for its Australian themes, correct anatomical proportions, and natural, graceful, biologically correct outlines instead of the blocky, unrealistic, stylized lines favored by many tessellation artists.

You can also see here the other tessellation characteristic that Bruce Bilney is famous for. It's what Bruce calls "wiggle room", and it makes other tessellation artists bonkers. Most tessellation artists agree that a tessellation's "tiles" (shapes) should fit together without gaps. The lines separating the "tiles" should be as thin as possible, and should be the same width everywhere in the design. That's just like the white "grout" lines between bathroom tiles, and the cement lines between wall bricks. Bruce Bilney is one of only a few tessellation artists who disagree. Notice that around Tasmania (the heart-shaped koala bear faces) Bruce has "lines"-- gaps, really-- that are thin, thick, and then thin again. At the ends of the kangaroo tails, too, and behind the kangaroos' ears, the lines are sometimes thick, sometimes thin.

Bruce and I call these unruly lines "wiggle room", and we call perfectly thin, always-the-same-width lines "laser lines". I like my tessellation art with "laser lines", and Bruce likes "wiggle room". He says it gives the kangaroos and fish and other animals "...room to move around. You wouldn't put fish into a fishbowl so tightly that they can't breathe nor swim about, would you?"

So: is Bruce breaking the rules? Is this a tessellation? Do we "forgive" him, and make a little exception to the rules so we can call this beautiful symmetrical art a tessellation? What do you think?

Click here to see this pattern of kangaroos and continents used in a wooden chessboard.

You can see much more of Bruce Bilney's tessellation art at his website, Ozzigami.com.au.