out and about

The Surprising Smell of Australia

un-felted

Slowly, slowly, slowly I'm exhaling mist - its physical form through physical action. I've been holding my breath for one entire year, and now, as I breathe out, this is what's forming in the condensation. And oh boy am I breathing heavily. I've been busy rolling, rolling, rolling these long strands of fog out of softly coloured wool.

"You look like you're making noodles."

I wonder if people who make noodles hurt this much in the morning. Every day I wake with a groan. But I love this feeling, my aching body feels real and present. It's making something true, something it needs to. This pain is the feeling of growth.

As I walk through the streets and parks I pretend I am walking through a classical Chinese landscape. Beijing is so far removed from these images and yet if you squint you can see yourself  as that eremitic wanderer. In Canberra, when I walk though the streets and parks, I imagine myself as forest-dweller, sometimes a fairy tale figure. In many ways the project reminds me of home but it's the smell of the work that's the strongest trigger, something I didn't expect. It's the wool.  I need to wet it in order to felt it, and the smell seems such an Australian experience that it's comforting to return to it every day. And every day I'm a little less sore as my body accommodates. Odd sadness here is frequent but these feelings assure me I'm on the right path.

early mists           early mists

layering

steed

At the Temple of Heaven

Honey It's Been a While!

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.

forests path forest path

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?

french knit

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.

Forests

We are living in the forest. The weather here is bad; but surly, cold clouds seem to make things special.The next change in the forest will bring an exiting type of permanence.

I have been making things that don't quiet fit together. These sculptures are sitting on my desk, their segments jutting out at uncomfortable angles when they should be smooth, seamless surfaces. Art always seems to be an effort of control. Not control of materials, which are perfect, but control of my own body. One day I hope to fully understand my hands, my movements.

I am fitting many things together. I am trying to form objects to suit all nooks and crannies. Some of these objects don't quite fit, but they are still beautiful, sublime. At times like this all I can do is know these objects, these feelings. Have them fill me, and engorged in beauty and love I am ultimately happy.