ECOLOGIES OF PLACE – PEOPLE, PLACES, PLANTS AND OTHER PERCEPTIONS Curated by Margaret Sanders, Works by Catherine Buddle, Jenny Clapson, Sam Oster, Stephanie Radok and Margaret Sanders
This exhibition brings together five artists whose previous work has focussed on relational and place-based concerns. Each artist was invited to make work about their responses to a particular place through the prism of an ecological enquiry. My approach has been to co-curate this exhibition with the artists. We have developed our ideas though informal conversations and discussions with the expectation that in the process the concerns of the work would articulate and define the subject of the exhibition. The artists were invited to take an open and interpretative approach. What are ecologies? What is place? These few words raised many questions. At times the scope of the exhibition seemed to be an elusive riddle. However, as a koan irritates the mind into action, the artists reacted with a diversity of surprisingly personal responses.
Consider, the blackened fire ground which has found renewal. The needle and thread which has drawn out hidden memories and affixed them as resolute knots on flimsy gauze. The moth seeking the bright windows of a house at night. The yellow hills listening to the stories of extinct birds and newly arriving plants. The single flower which exists in array of invisible connections. When one looks at a subject from the embrace of multiple points of view one is reminded of Jorge Luis Borges famous maxim
There isn’t anywhere on earth a single page or single word that is, since each thing implies the universe, whose most obvious trait is complexity.
Margaret Sanders, September 2015
Launched 27 September 2015, Opening speaker: Mark Parnell MLC. Exhibition closing date: 7 November 2015
Site Ecology 1 : Continental Drift
As a migrant to Australia from South Africa, with family history in the UK and Europe, I am aware that my family has not settled in any one place for a number of generations. I wanted to represent my geographic meanderings by reflecting on personally significant places. I worked across locations on Kangaroo Island, the Adelaide Hills, South Africa and England to produce this work. The complex geographical, biological, topographical, meteorological and geological qualities of these sites define their floral diversity. For each image I wanted to isolate spaces that offered visual and bio-diverse complexity, and that captured the experience of each place as described by the plants thriving there. This work is a reflection on cultural and ecological diversity. It celebrates the variety of my geographic experience across my home continents, whilst acknowledging my sense of (own) rootlessness.
Site Ecology 2 : Dry
This series extends my reflection on geographic sites but takes a broader look at my residential proximity to the Sampson Flat Bushfires. I grew up in semi-rural South Africa and have been drawn to the landscape of the Adelaide foothills as my adult home. South Australia has dramatic summer conditions, and fire is a persistent and integral part of the ecological landscape here. These images were taken on a friend’s property after the fire(s). The objects retrieved after the fire(s), represent functional tools for interacting with and dealing with the conditions of a place. The fan is used to contend with the heat of the Adelaide summer, and the tools are used to cultivate and manage the landscape. Whilst fire can destroy domestic property and threaten our lives, it is also an essential player in the life-cycle of the local ecology and is as much a resident of the place as we are.