Exhibition curator: Joanna Gair Exhibition artists: Richard Arculus, James Batchelor, Pete Harmsen, Annalise Rees, Charles Tambiah Exhibition opening: 5.30 – 7pm Friday 28 April Exhibition dates: 28 April – 26 May
The Voyage of the Investigator
Exhibition guest opening speaker: Professor Mike Coffin, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania
In early 2016, a media photo/videographer, science photographer, scientist, choreographer and visual artist joined a scientific voyage to Heard and McDonald Islands in the Southern Ocean. The purpose of this voyage, to one of the world’s most remote and uncharted regions was to investigate the role of iron, a critical nutrient in the food chain, and ultimately producing the air we breathe. This exhibition explores the influence of the image as a mode of documenting and knowledge gathering, to share information and ideas. Taken from multiple perspectives; science, art and the media, these works reflect a shared experience of sky, land, sea, vessel, body and space. Thinking about the many ways image-making plays a central role in conveying information about phenomena in the world, Backscatter reflects on the power of the image to enable us to see in an expanded sense.
*Backscatter is presented in partnership with the UTAS Makers' Space and the Academy Gallery.
Tasmanian College of the Arts
Academy of the Arts, Inveresk, Launceston
University of Tasmania
Over August I worked with James Batchelor, the choreographer who accompanied me on the Investigator trip in conjunction with Morgan Hickinbotham (sound artist) and Amber McCartney (performer) at Tas Dance in Launceston. DEEPSPACE is the result of this collaboration which recently had a small preview performance as part of Salamanca Moves in Hobart. Via the link you can see a short video preview of the show which will premier on March 20th, 2017 as part of Dance Massive in Melbourne. https://vimeo.com/184663874
Friday saw the launch of a new project, GEOLOCATION JOURNEYS. A collaboration with albatross researcher Jaimie Cleeland from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. Jaimie and I are turning retired geolocation devices, used to track animals into wearable art. The proceeds go back into buying new geolocators and supporting marine predator research. You can read more about the project and make a donation at;
I'm currently working with choreographer James Batchelor and collaborators Amber McCartney and Morgan Hickinbotham at Tas Dance in Launceston.
Choreographer James Batchelor and I will be giving talks next Friday Aug 19th at IMAS, in the Aurora Lecture Theatre from 1-2pm about our involvement with the RV Investigator voyage to Heard Island in January.
There will also be a free experimental performance of DEEPSPACE a performance installation James and I are collaborating on as a result of the voyage – at TMAG at 6pm on the same day. James and I are currently working up in Launceston at Tas Dance with dancer, Amber McCartney and sound designer, Morgan Hickinbotham. This is the first developmental period for the work. The TMAG performance will be a preview of what we have been working on over the past 3 weeks and opportunity to ask questions and give feedback. This will help us direct the next stage of development (due to happen in Melbourne in November).
The DEEPSPACE performance will have its premiere in March 2017 as part of Dance Massive in Melbourne. See invite attached for Friday’s preview at TMAG – please note that you need to RSVP for the performance via details provided on the invite below.
On July 5th, here in Hobart, I am giving a talk about my recent trip Heard Island at the Tasmanian Maritime Museum.
Drawing the unknown: an artistic and scientific voyage to Heard Island in 2016
Time: 12.00 – 1.00pm Tuesday 5 July 2016
Place: Royal Society Room, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Customs House, 19 Davey St entrance
Phone the Maritime Museum on 6234 1427 for more details
I will also be soon returning to South Australia for my exhibition Daily Practice with Sally Parnis at Adelaide Central Gallery, July 6 – August 6, please see invitation below.
This exhibition will feature some of my recent work as part of my PhD studies at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, focusing on journals, artist books and drawing from my trips to sea on a professional cray boat around the Tasmanian coastline. I will be giving an artist talk about this work at Adelaide Central School of Art Thursday July 14th 12:45-1:20pm.
During my visit I will also be giving a talk at the South Australian Museum about my recent 2 month sub-Antarctic voyage to Heard and McDonald Islands on the RV Investigator with fellow voyager, choreographer James Batchelor, Thursday July 14th 6-7:30pm. This is a ticketed event ($15), including viewing of the Waterhouse Prize and refreshments, please see link here for details and to purchase a ticket.
Opening Tuesday 12 July, 6 - 8pm
Daily Practice explores and celebrates an artist’s commitment to maintaining a daily visual art practice. The digital and physical journals of these talented artists are displayed as interactive artworks alongside completed drawings, paintings, lightbox-mounted prints and moving image works.
We invite you to become a voyeur, allowed exclusive intimate insights into the processes and journeys each artist has taken to explore and resolve their ideas.
Opening event | Tuesday 12 July, 6-8pm
Opening speaker | Emeritus Professor Ian Gibbins, Flinders University
Exhibition dates | 6 July - 6 August 2016 ____________
It's been a few weeks now since I have returned from my trip to Heard and McDonald Islands. It has taken some time to adjust back to my land lubbing life after 2 months at sea. There were several days of landsickness, paired with a general feeling of disorientation as I tried to get back into my 'normal' schedule and routine.
In the days since my return I have been thinking about the nature of islands and their influence upon my world perception. I have also been thinking about my trip, which was a voyage to somewhere that was neither here nor there. It was a trip to a place I never set foot on, but instead circled round for days. It was a journey that was about the journey itself, rather than a fixed destination of sorts. There are not many opportunities that put so much effort into going somewhere and yet never actually getting there, in the grounded or 'landed' sense. It is something peculiar to the sea - a placeless place where you are perpetually mobile and never in any one fixed location, locatable and yet moving. I liken this to the creative process. It is about searching and journeying, rather than the destination. Below are some of my journal sketches from the trip. They are ponderings, they are me thinking out loud on the page. Through drawing I was trying to make sense of the experience of encounter with the unknown and unfamiliar.
vantage points, spaces for reflecting back and distancing ourselves. They
possess significant geographical features that determine and influence
experience. Islands are defined by their sea-bound borders, by distance and
isolation. They lie off mainland shores, independently other. To be an
‘islander’, is to be someone who is acutely aware of both belonging and being
separated, of connection and disconnection. It is a fluctuating perception of
one’s place in the world, one that is largely determined by a very specific
type of spatial awareness and physical geography.
Australia is the
world’s island continent, another here or perhaps there, depending upon where
you position yourself and from where you come. Positioning oneself is
difficult, in the fixed sense. Position suggests being motionless, steady and
unmoving. Alternatively, thinking of it as an active process, as something that
you continually do while always being aware of relation, it is more of a
becoming. Rather than being a specific
location, it is a continuum where you are never quite here nor there. Ross
Gibson writes about Australian existence as being provisional, fluid and
the decades have accrued…the colonial fixity has never fully gelled. For even
though the land itself seems to be the rock-solid basis of Australian
experience, the defining quality here is actually changefulness. There’s a
motility in Australia – something skittish, relational and ever-altering –
which means long-term inhabitants should expect only occasional moments of
poise while remaining always engaged in jostling contingency and fragility.
History teaches that to live well here, you need to be scanning close and far,
catching environmental instructions, ready to respond when each emerging moment
brings a new pulse of threats and chances. This requires a mentality that is
attentive to the environment but not deeply embedded in any one locked and
landed portion of it (Gibson 2013, p.
Gibson makes an
interesting observation regarding the culturally inherited nature of perception
and its relation to identity as being spatially oriented. He writes of the
‘improvisatory, opportunistic and weather-guided’ indigenes (Gibson 2013, p. 259). Theirs is a fluid and responsive connection to country
enacted through daily practice and ritual. Theirs is an existence dependent
upon the ability to dynamically re-articulate one’s movements and practices in
relation to an immediacy of being in country.This is in contrast to the fixity of a rigid colonial
vision of settlement. It was a perception that settlement would be permanent. It
was an assumed certainty of stasis that disregarded the protean nature of the
antipodes, of an island of ever-altering unpredictability and changefulness.
As pointed out
by Gibson, Australian colonial history is not only a story of the desire for stability
but also one of departures and arrivals. It has never truly been embedded in
the land itself. Perhaps it is because of its displaced and mobile history that
stasis and settlement were so longer for. He reminds us that Australia’s
colonial history is also a maritime one, one of shifting horizons of people’s from near and far, from here and
there (Gibson 2012, pp. 231-232). Contemporarily Australia is an island of
migration, of coming to and leaving from. I wonder if it is indeed the sea that
surrounds which defines antipodean existence? The ocean that separates also
connects. The watery void between becomes an active space that surrounds and
necessitates negotiation. To leave (or arrive) one has to pass over and
through. Duration and the journey itself are inherent characteristics of land
girt by sea. Gibson writes further in relation to the work of Australian artist
be Australian might have less to do with being in a place than it has to do
with being in temporal patterns of movement, being in rhythms of gleaming
realization, being in glimpsed insights and occluding befuddlements, in a
continual process of reorientation, action and reaction. Gill helps us sense
how being Australian might actually mean being untethered or placeless. It
might mean being blithely restless within the changefulness that the nation
offers its citizens, which means appreciating how to live in dynamic patterns
of time rather than in native plots of place (Gibson 2013, p.
This project has
offered up a chance to consider the significance of the sea within my own
personal story. What is this placeless place? How can I be located without
being stationary? The sea is also a space that continues to harbour mysteries
and the unknown - a novel idea within a world that is dominated by information,
surveillance and knowing. We frequently steer away from such uncertain courses
towards the safety and comfort of the known. To step into the ambiguous sea of
unknowing is risky and de-stabilising. But perhaps it is where one needs to be
willing to go. It is a necessary step towards making sense of one’s
placelessness. It is an alternative
perception, to think of the fluid notion of uncertainty as a generative state
of being. It is a way to consider its potential to facilitate new connections
with the unfamiliar.
Within this project
the unfamiliar has been a critical driver of curiosity and inquiry. It is
something that has led me on a journey without a pre-empted end point. I have
navigated shifting currents through rising and ebbing tides. The flotsam and
jetsam of artistic endeavour have been my attempt to mark the journey and
situate myself in a fluid world.
It is in this
space between, the watery boundary, between here and there where this project
is situated and with that myself. I am searching for a place that has no
definite location. I have embarked upon an unending search, looking for my next
point of trajectory, traverse and journey. Through the constant attempts to
orientate myself I have sought momentary solitude treading water. Between the
here and there offers a chance to stop momentarily, to breathe and look around.
The unknown presents a place to pause, to be in the moment and critically
mindful of my surroundings. The unknown enables the perpetual search, and with
it an acceptance that contexts, frameworks and knowing are (and should be)
under constant review-edit-rewrite, or in my case, re-draw.
Over the course of the journey I became most interested in the human element within the encounter. The relationships between scientists, crew, ship and the environment began to feature in my drawings, strange interactions that help to build some kind of understanding of humans and the world they inhabit.
Gibson, R 2013, 'Motility', in Cd Zegher
(ed.), Here art grows on trees: Simryn
Gill, exhibition catalogue edn, Australia Council for the Arts, Gent,
Belgium, pp. 259-267.