Last year, Liza McCosh, Director of Scope Galleries, generously invited me to exhibit my video work “Gaia is Symbiosis as Seen from Space”. I took this as an opportunity to develop some of the thinking contained in the video as well as to further develop my installation processes. Inside Out marked an important step forward in my thinking about my specific research as well as my broader understanding of how art produces knowledge. I came to realise the extent to which this video work is very much in conversation with the work of colonial landscape painter Eugene von Guerard and his observations which sought to understand the landscape as an interconnected ecosystem. I also came to realise the important role art plays in not only observing and critiquing our relationship to the world but also how crucial it is in proposing new and alternate ways to imagine this relationship.
I was fortunate to share the gallery with an exhibition titled Embedded produced by Andrea Radley, Gareth Colliton and Karen Richards. Embedded was an acclaimed exhibition of works made during a residency in the Emergency Department at South West Health Care Warrnambool. You can read more about their work by following these links:
I reworked my footage from “Gaia is Symbiosis (…)”, slowly it down and playing it from end to start so as to let the viewer work backwards back to the ground. I also set this footage to a very simple soundtrack, a recording of my washing machine as it works through a wash cycle, occasionally thumping as it spins itself off balance. The spinning footage and the sound of the washing machine were a perfect complement and worked to draw together the sense of the ordinary domestic with the sense of the “bigger picture”. I made a series of sculptures that imitated water hung out on my clothes horse and my ironing board. As a happy coincidence the smell of the running data projector was almost identical to that of a hot iron.
The following is the statement that accompanied Inside Out:
Through PhD research at the Australian National University Canberra I have been examining the overlap of body and environment as an “aesthetic subjectivity”. This way of understanding subjectivity emphasises how embodied consciousness is embedded in and emergent from its environment- an environment that we primarily experience aesthetically as the combination of sensation, emotion and meaning. A creative practice led inquiry into my domestic environment has centered this research. From this point I have attempted to make sense of and plot my relationship to the larger world in which I exist. I have used photography, drawing, sculpture, written reflection and sound and video recording in this continuous observation of my relationship to space.
Inside Out is a fragment of a larger body of practice that reinterprets my 2013 video work Gaia is Symbiosis as Seen from Space in order to imagine continuity between our ordinary domestic world and the larger social, ecological and cosmological realities we share.
Focusing on the aesthetic nature of our connection to the world has provided me with a way to imagine the materiality of our continuum with time and space. My aim now is to create spaces that convey this to others.
The video Gaia is Symbiosis as Seen from Space was originally created as part of “The Kitchen Table Art Expedition”, an Arts Victoria Artists In Schools Program held at Macarthur Primary School in 2013.
Our Kitchen Table Art Expedition takes a great deal of inspiration from Eugene von Guerard. This Colonial artist made several trips through South West Victoria through what is now called the Kanawinka Geopark that spans from near Geelong to Mt Gambier. This is a volcanic landscape that has rich history and soil.
Our project started in May with our visit to von Guerard’s masterpiece Tower Hill at the Warrnambool Art Gallery, painted in 1855. Later that same decade he trekked to Mt Eccles and undertook drawing studies there as well. With this in mind we made our second expedition outside Macarthur to Mt Eccles. (You can get a better look at Eugene’s work by clicking on the image above to enlarge it)
We started at the top look out where the Explorers used drawings and iPads to record the environment. Breaking up into our Expedition Parties we made our way around the crater and down into the cave were our explorers observed the effect of darkness on their eyes as well as the sounds and smells inside the earth.
We were “blessed” with rain for most of our expedition but under the strong leadership of Mrs Lyles we still ventured on to the camping ground where the explorers we asked to find a solitary spot to contemplate Mt Eccles- without chattering, to listen, look, smell and wonder…..
This wonderfully wet day of exploration provides us with the source for our next five weeks of work. I have begun my time with my next group: the Light Expedition Party. I am very interested to see what things we discover about our environment together…..
We’ve already noted how overcast days diffuse the light making shadows almost non-existent and how light rain seems to smudge light causing a loss of visual detail as the landscape recedes….
…… and on my way out of Macarthur I was met with a huge Rainbow, as if to mark the start of this new round of inquiry working with the Light Expedition Party over the next 5 weeks 🙂
I have been developing the Kitchen Table Art Expedition with Macarthur Primary School for about two years. Last December we were successful in our bid to be one of Arts Victoria’s 18 Artist In Schools Project. After much anticipation we began our project in early May this term. The project involves students from grades 4, 5, & 6 of Macarthur Primary which is a tiny primary school in the country town of Macarthur. It is a beautiful school with a great sense of community, bright students and great teachers- I have been having a blast working with them each Thursday.
The Kitchen Table Art Expedition is HUGE! (Getting it off to a good start has taken a lot of time hence this belated post!). We use Colonial Artist Eugene von Guerard as our conceptual starting point, his understanding and explorations of Australia’s ecology provide a great metaphor for our examination of interconnectivity.
The project works on the theme of “parts into the whole” and is fittingly made up of four sub-projects that will culminate in our final event in September. The sub-projects are:
The Light Chamber Observatory, a sensory tunnel being built at the school’s kitchen garden with the help of Macarthur’s Mens Shed. It will combine recycled materials with a coloured Perspex roof and the students artwork.
Notes from the Field This is a video Project wherein the explorer students examine their environments through film.
Gaia is Symbiosis as seen from Earth This is an amazing project where we attach a video camera to a helium filled weather balloon and launch it into the stratosphere- we the retrieve it with the help of a parachute and a GPS
Gesamtkunstkwerk We are borrowing this German term to describe our multi-artform extravagant finale. We will combine a kitchen garden feast with the premiere of the expedition films, the unveiling of Light Chamber Observatory, ephemeral sculptures and an exhibition of the student artwork….
The students have been divided into three Expedition Parties, each exploring a theme of Light, Space or Earth. Each group rotates through five week long programs in the different mediums of Painting & Drawing, Sculpture & Installation, and New Media. Each group gets to experience each medium over the course of the project. We have just finished our first five week program- it has been educational and exciting.