Strata, old Lismore ambulance building, for Disruption of Distance, Artstate Lismore, 1 – 4 November 2017

Strata, 5000mm x 3000mm, venetian blinds, iron lak, ambulance building

When tectonic activity, Aeolian winds, time, icecaps, entropy and ennui have done their thing, what will crystalise from this -cene? Will new elements form from compacted and weathered concrete, plastic, steel, glass and asphalt?

Mark Wigley and Beatriz Colomina, curators of last year’s Istanbul Design Biennial, observed, “the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer.”

The factors that shape Earth’s surface bore the Tweed Caldera and its rhyolites, basalts and fertile red loamy soils. The anthropic landscapes that perch on Earth’s ancient body; what neo-minerals will surface from their compressed frames in due course?

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Strata 1

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Image by Katelyn-Jane Dunn
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Prac at M-Arts

Ouroboros, May 2017

Pop up group exhibition in the old Heidi’s bookshop on Wharf St, Murwillumbah, part of the Murwillumbah Art Trail, May 25 – 30 2017.

Artists: Ness Bryant, Kylie McCaffrey, Mr Todd, Amelia Reid.

The show was 7 weeks after the catastrophic flood caused by ex-tropical cyclone Debbie that inundated Murwillumbah, Lismore and many other parts of the Tweed and Byron shires. I had a bunch of idea for the work I was going to show, but after witnessing the flood and community recovery experience, I had to respond to that instead.  Statement from the exhibition booklet, a few pics and list of my works below:

My works for this exhibition seek to re-present the shared experience of the 2017 Tweed Valley flooding, the aftermath and continuing recovery. We have lived through an event that is said to occur ‘once in a hundred years’. We have witnessed a turning in the great cycle of Gaia, an inundation, stirring awe and bringing destruction – to the landscape, to lives, with devastating loss of life. Our community has experienced a forced reframing of its sense of home, the postcard-perfect Tweed Valley. In some way, shocking events that bring change seem to open up portals in reality. It can take one’s mind a bit of time to recalibrate to the adjusted mindset, the new normal.

Humans are intrinsically affiliated with form and materiality. Objects are potent portals to memory. The rediscovery of items, maybe hidden away in storage for years, can release a torrent of charged memory, linked as they are with lived moments and relationships. Object (recognised form) as time machine. Prior to Homo sapiens reconditioning from nomadic to sedentary lifestyle (an impact of the agricultural revolution), our ancestors’ animist beliefs bonded mythologies to form – river, rock, tree, bird, serpent, etc. Natural forms and elements held significance to life’s experiences and one’s sense of place. Materialism has now become a destructive force in contemporary societies, particularly regarding impacts of industry on natural environments and weather patterns. Global warming trends predict more extreme weather events in the near future and it greatly concerning that global warming was not mentioned in this year’s federal budget. The 2017 flood might have been a glimpse of a natural cycle which turns a fraction of a notch every few generations, but the wrath behind it may well have been intensified by the impacts of a globalised culture fixated with commercial viability and environmental commodification.

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Mid install

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Tide Line, 2017, photo of timber slat installation on sugarcane debris marking the height of flood waters on the Commercial Road/Hockey Fields earth embankment (archival print on cotton rag)

Held, 2017, photo of timber slat installation on flood debris on four postcards, sugar cane collected from the forks of trees along the riverbank, copper wire

Portals, 2017, wooden slats, chalkboard paint

Flood Ouroboros, 2017, flood and river documentation on 62 postcards

Flood Bucket in B Flat, 2017, plastic bucket, spectacles and water damaged manuscripts (property of and used with permission by the artist’s mother), dried grass, timber slats




Wall install of timber assemblage made from scrap yard collectings.Keebers scrap yard in Murwillumbah re-sells usable parts of demolished houses. Bits of old Queenslanders and cane cutters’ cottages, DIY renovator’s delight. The man who runs Keebers is polite and bemused when I go in and ‘clean up’ around the area where he pulls old nails out of planks. I like the pot-luck findings – produced by chance and circumstance. Wall hanging collages. I installed the show and took a few snaps on my water damaged phone. Room sheet statement below.

The timber used in these assemblages was found under my house, an 80 year-old Queenslander, or has come from friends’ renovations or from a local scrapyard dealing in second-hand timber, mostly sourced from demolished houses in the Murwillumbah area.
These discarded and rediscovered materials are worn, containing clues to their histories in their patinas and idiosyncratic markings, much like people do. What stories have they witnessed as elements in walls and floors? And before that, as trees in unknown locations?
The assemblages explore the fine lines between balance and imbalance, harmony and discord; they celebrate the unique markings etched by life and acknowledge the negotiation between wildness and domesticity in the self and in our interactions.

Future Public at ARTLANDS

In October I went to Dubbo for the biennial Regional Arts Australia conference ARTLANDS. It was my first experience of ARTLANDS, which is aptly described: part conference part festival all arts. Thanks to Regional Arts NSW QUICKS funding I could attend the conference itself, which was empowering and eye opening. It was an immersive, thought-provoking, fun and productive four days. Festival director Greg Pritchard filled the program with artists and companies from regional New South Wales.

I was there primarily as an artist in Future Public, an exhibition of propositional public art curated by Alex Wisser (Cementa, Kandos). The work I made, No Fixed Trace, was a kind of distillation of the exercises, or interventions, or interruptions, that I have been concentrating on for the last little while. The idea was to make a new piece each morning in a different location in Victoria Park where most of the Future Public artists had installed their work. My materials were timber slats, some that I’ve been working with for a while, and some that were kindly donated by Macquarie Valley Blinds and Awnings who I’d approached on my site visit in June. Picking up their boxes of donations was exciting as I had no previous idea what size or colour the materials they were keeping aside for me would be. As soon as I saw those offcuts new shapes and glyphs became apparent, sparking my imagination, which was great as I wanted that element of spontaneous response in my work.

During the site visit, I’d been thinking about making ‘moment’ specific rather than ‘site’ specific work. Work that reflected the goings – on between people as they entered into conversations and performed actions; the day-to-day filling of reality. Responding to ideas as they occurred concurrently. Responding to spoken word exchanges and also the more intangible elements of communication. I was, still am, interested in the idea of representing energy traces left by human activities and interactions in public spaces, and the conference seemed like an ideal place to test this, in real time. Each day there was a set theme to keynotes, panels and masterclasses. I attended as much as I could, not as much as I would have liked but there was so much to do and see in the festival too. By the third day I managed to let go of the fomo and just let my experience curate itself. Plus I had to make my work each morning for a few hours. I drank lots of caffeinated beverages!  Anyway, although primarily the work I made was more about filling a space and playing with removing permanence and fixed location from ideas of what is integral to public art, I couldn’t set down this idea of responding to the conference as it occurred. I had also thought about the ways the conference would be recorded, ways that the exchanges and idea-making could be represented (the traces that could be left) aside from text and audio visual recordings. Could what I made be an alternative trace of the conference?

Leading up to ARTLANDS I looked at the temporary works I’d made in the last year, making a collage on my studio wall,14206176_10153715112192027_7886001053787267841_o re-read my notes about this aspect of my practice, and conceptualised a few main shapes/glyphs that I wanted to work with in No Fixed Trace. I touched lightly on the conference themes but didn’t want to set anything in stone. To be responding to moments within that setting I had to wait until I was down there and experiencing them. The four artworks I made for Future Public were a combination of ideas I’d had prior to and what I experienced daily during the conference, both externally and internally. Each morning I removed yesterday’s piece from the site, chose a new site that harmonised with structures and plants in the park, and the other artworks, and created a new piece. Interestingly, I found that the absence of the piece from the site once it was removed was quite startling, something I haven’t felt before when making this kind of work. The absence of the artwork seemed to make me perceive the whole space and relationship between objects within the space differently. I’m looking forward to exploring this concept in depth in future work.  I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to make this kind of work in this way, it is the creative investigation that I’m most passionate about.  Big thank you to Alex Wisser, Greg Pritchard, Geoff and Pepper, Orana Arts and Regional Arts NSW. 

Below are some slides of each day’s work. I’ll be opening a dialogue on regional-based contemporary art practice with more info about conference sessions and other exhibitions and performances from the festival at Yellow Brick Studio on Friday 16th December at5:30pm, anyone interested can come along.

No Fixed Trace – Artists choosing sites, Thursday 27th October 2016

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No Fixed Trace – Regeneration, Friday 28th October 2016

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No Fixed Trace – (Conversation on) Connectedness, Saturday 29th October 2016

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No Fixed Trace – Emergence, Sunday 30th October 2016

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On the road to ARTLANDS

The festival program for ARTLANDS Regional Arts Australia conference has been launched. I am so happy, chuffed and excited to be taking part in Future Public.

‘Future/Public is an exhibition of propositional public artworks in parklands central to the various venues for in the ARTLANDS precinct.  Instead of producing finished and lasting artworks for public spaces, Future/Public will use public space as a platform for questioning the role of art in public.’

More info on Future Public here.

This project was made possible through a Quick Response Grant provided by
Regional Arts NSW through the Regional Arts Fund, an Australian Government
initiative supporting the arts in regional, remote and very remote Australia. Thank you!


Tread Lightly (on Buddha’s Tears)

In May I made a short video piece which was shown at Murwillumbah Experimental Film Shorts at the Regent Cinema, Murwillumbah. The theme of MEFS was sustainability.

It is a visual response to three sound pieces sourced from Disquiet Junto. What caught my attention was the way these sound artists responded to each other in their work. San Franciscan Marc Weidenbaum’s disquiet Six String Buddha  was reworked by Hideyuki, in Japan, for his piece for the Incidental G disquietKeithysDunimselfaMischief, Australia, reworked Hideyuki’s disquiet into Buddha’s Incidental Fallen Fruit Injuries. I was struck by three things about the Disquiet Junto community. Firstly, the good natured and healthy sharing of ideas and content (all uploaded sound is encouraged to be available to others under Creative Commons licence),  secondly, the artistic economy this kind of responsive conversation employed – how great ideas expand and change as they are explored. Thirdly, as I was thinking about how sustainability is a kind of key concept of our times, and how this would slowly infiltrate daily consciousness and many aspects of culture including creative process, that here was a perfect example of this.

I took a little poetic licence by putting Marc’s piece in the middle, Hideyuki’s first and Keithy’s last. It just seemed to better fit the video narrative in that order.

In response to the constraint defined nature of Disquiet Junto,  I applied my own by using only a small pool of footage I had recently taken and editing it to the sound cues.

Wear headphones or plug in the good speakers if you can to get the full dose of sound.



Fun with fluro junkie

Mary from Fluro Junkie asked me to wear some wonderfully stripey sustainable threads and make a piece in Proudfoot Lane. She took photos and asked me some questions which she has posted to her blog.

It was a whole new experience. I normally make these kinds of works alone, take the photo, take the piece apart and leave, like nothing ever happened. Mary said she was fascinated by watching the drawing appear in the space. We talked about the performative element of it, and how that could be expanded upon.

She asked me some good questions, which I answered nervously, gushingly. For the last week and a half I’ve been thinking of much better answers! I’ve been thinking. It got me thinking.

This Sunday I will install some work in the window of her shop on Wharf St, Murwillumbah. Thanks for your support and encouragement Mary!

Some play from the last six months

Up a ladder at the Netball Courts; cube play
Up a ladder at the Netball Courts; Decking offcuts
Cube tag turf war; Murwillumbah levy wall
Cube tag turf war; Murwillumbah levy wall; Decking offcuts
Thin White Duke in space
Thin White Duke in space; Venetian blind
Blue Moon Dinner; Housework
Blue Moon Dinner; Housework; Jacaranda twigs
Portrait; Gesture
Portrait; Gesture; Jacaranda twigs
House next door (decking offcuts)
House across the road; Decking offcuts
Shadow of the house
House shadow
Torch play in the gloaming, Taree
Torch play in the gloaming, Taree
Torch play
Torch play
Winter grove
Winter grove