Big Ci Residency - 2020
In February 2020 I spent a month as an artist in residence at Big Ci, in Bilpin on the edge of the Blue Mountains and Wollemi National Parks, NSW, Australia. It was just after the bushfires had been finally extinguished so everywhere there were sad vistas of burnt and blackened forests. But with the torrential rain and floods that followed the regrowth was astonishing, and by the end of my stay many of the trees were covered in a lacy mass of pink, green and bronze coloured foliage, in an amazing display of resilience. My work takes the viewer on a walk through the bush, starting with vibrant, healthy green trees, through the burning bushfires, to the burnt and blackened remains left afterwards. Next are the blackened trees starting to produce new shoots of foliage, and a mass of lacy new leaves. The white pieces imagine a scenario where land clearance and more frequent and intense fires due to climate change mean that the bush cannot regenerate and all we are left with are ghostly memories. The work used handmade paper coloured with eucalyptus dyes and containing plant fibres, and for the black papers charcoal from burnt trees was added as well as sandy soil from the surroundings. Felt was also coloured with eucalyptus dye, paper was stitched to create leafy hangings, and silk was pleated using shibori binding techniques to imply wrinkled tree bark. Hanging pieces in three dimensional space as opposed to on a wall was a liberating move for me. The first set of images shown here are in situ at Big Ci, the second set were taken in a studio by photographer Geoff Sumner.