19. 02. 2017
It’s a writing joy to be part of the Island to Inland project, to observe the artists in their studios and environments, to witness the creative process and making of the artworks, and to report on them.
I unashamedly admire artists, their creative sparks and realisations of their ideas.
All ten artists of the Island to Inland exhibition have begun with a general idea and they’ve honed and fine-tuned and patiently (or not – I’m not there to see) gnawed away, chipped at, scraped, prodded and poked their ideas until their art emerges into the light.
It’s been quite a while since this blog started so I thought I’d finish by revisiting the first three subjects to see how their ideas and practice have progressed.
Photo colourist, Caroline Taylor, has delved into every known resource to reveal the story of the ornithological journey of 1905 to her part of the world on the northwest coast of Kangaroo Island.
And she has not lost her amazement at – and, yes, admiration for – this group, despite their unsuitable clothing and vast accoutrements. Their social niceties ran side-by-side with their hard slog, and attention to detail.
Some walked as far as Cape Borda (45 km as the crow flies) in their search for specimens.
They divided roles between themselves. They collected and preserved eggs and plant specimens. Everything was catalogued in minute detail: measurements, colours, comparisons with mainland species.
As Caroline has found more information, she’s refined her work down to five photographs that reveal the character of the expedition ornithologists through the strikingly large photos themselves, and similar handcolouring renditions.
Photographer, Quentin Chester, believes that Kangaroo Island is one of the great places in the world for people to experience connection to the deep geological past.
‘The direct experience, eye to eye, in your face, of nature is the foundation for a lot of other things,’ Quentin said.
‘For many people who visit the island, they are having some of the richest art experiences of their life.’
Quentin wants to express the visceral, immediacy of nature in his photographs for Island to Inland.
The scale will be big.
‘I’m trying to do justice to the texture of the rock, the structure and the intricacies, and the power of the experience of geology in the field.’
His camera is focused on the geology of two Dudley Peninsula sites, Cape Coutts and Moncrieff Bay, that reveal significant events in the geological building of Kangaroo Island.
Assemblage artist, Janine Mackintosh, is taking her comment on the destruction of biodiversity and consequent salinisation of land to a higher level.
‘This is a national issue – and an island-wide issue – that needs leadership to fix it,’ she said.
The saying is that Australia’s prosperity was built on the sheep’s back, and Janine is now using sheep vertebrae only – still seeped in the blood of yacca and held together by fencing wire. Their formation into the Southern Cross, symbolises the need for national leadership for regaining healthy soils.
Janine said she’s making her work visually stronger while retaining the sense of randomness.
‘I have a lack of control because the threaded wire dictates how it looks, she said.
The bony protrusions from the central core of the vertebrae stick out at random angles.
‘And there was no methodical precision in the collecting – trudging across paddocks with a wheelbarrow – cleaning and lacquering, which looked like a very messy blood splattered production on the verandah.’
Island to Inland
Opening night: Friday 30 June 2017 6–8pm
Open dates: Saturday 1 July – Sunday 3 September 2017
The Island to Inland tour of regional SA begins in January 2018