As a bird leaves its perch to drop down to a landing bellow, there is a split second in which it allows itself to fall. A small hop into space, wings by its side, fat body drops. I know this because I like to watch the magpies make their way from the telegraph lines onto the lawn, and this is how it's done. They like our garden probably because of the veggie patch which my housemate tends to. They fan their wings and effortlessly land in the grass for a good old scavenge. Flying for a bird, I imagine, might be a little like walking for us – an entirely natural process. When a magpie drops like that from a height, it knows what it is doing with certainty beyond knowing. But it's so comical to watch. And so beautiful. Right now in the garden it is warm, I am reading my sweet, sugary letters, and fat little bodies are dropping and plopping. Things are fitting and I am finding the nooks and crannies of my house again. I am so glad for my jobs – I am so glad for my garage studio – so glad to know a real love(s).
Ghost Forests and Indoor Mists
At the moment I am working on two projects:
The first is about the introduced forests of Canberra – an examination of the types of plantations here, an acknowledgement of their 'foreignness'. Scattered across the grey Canberra bush are streaks of dark green groves, spirits of foreign experience transplanted into Australian soil. They are spaces of imagination. The walker is briefly immersed in the presence of a surrounding forest, only to emerge again into the reality of the Canberran bush. For a long time I have been aware of how these spaces are an integral part to my own personal sense of home. I love the Old English Gardens, I love the Redwood Grove, I love the pines that were burned in 2003. And yet these places I see as so inherently Canberran have supplanted the forests, stories, histories that came before. There is a tension, a sometimes violent resonance, between the forest and bush. Why do we supplant aboriginal histories only to evoke cultures and memories we have never been a part of? On a personal level, I hope this work can resolve some of these questions.
The second is an installation project I'll be working on as part of a residency in Beijing. This piece is a response to Mist as it is used in Chinese Nature Painting. It is about the insertion of intangible natural forms, built with tangible materials, brought into the constructed environment of the city and gallery. A fog that has rolled in from the mountains into the gallery space. I like the idea of Mist in Nature Painting as a tool to illustrate a spiritual understanding of the natural world as both seen and unseen. And it is particularly interesting to see growing popularity of Nature Painting in China at a time when more people than ever have left the these spaces for the polluted metropolis. Smog has replaced mist in Beijing. But if you were to pretend that smog was mist couldn't you have the same spiritual experiences? And wouldn't those experiences be just as valid?
I'll be going to Beijing in December and I'll post updates here. Ghost Forests won't be on until April next year but I like starting early.