Environmental Activism – with Pat and Charles Zuber


Charles and Pat have been involved in environmental activism for many years here in Queensland and Tasmania as well. We’re sitting here talking right now about activist ‘burnout’ and tree sitters in Tasmania…. 

How do we see activism working at a political and local level here in Australia? How will this affect our arts practice? Charles asks. Australia will be going into a new, more conservative political situation very shortly.

Pat says that the Huon Valley  Environmental Centre was almost totally funded by a group of artists that through the sale of their work was run out of the old church that Pat and Charles bought and renovated there.

This would bring people in the community who wouldn’t normally come to art or environmental events to exhibitions at the church gallery, and then information would be shared and exchanged and passed on. Another exhibition was of photos taken by tree sitters from the tree canopies where they would occupy trees.

The relationship between art and the environment isn’t necessarily limited to coming out and installing art within the land. For instance, Miranda Gibson is a tree sitter who lived in a tree for over a year, who only came down because of the threat of fire. Pat says that all the tree sitters made art – a huge ark (a massive ship) writing poetry, weaving, sculptures, music.

Charles says that tree sitters were definitely outside the box – the cutting edge of activism – the tree sitters through Pat and Charles and their gallery – gave the sitters emotional support and their work exposure and funding.

The forests are old growth – they are extraordinarily powerful – and have been there for thousands and thousands of years. For instance, one tree sitter – “Petal” was the son of a logger, and was an arbourist in his own right- he loved trees – and would come and trim and shape Pat and Charles’ trees.

Pat says that to see the actual devastation is heart wrenching and emotionally overwhelming. And this inspires tree sitters to act.

The involvement of artists in environmental action as catalysts for joining forces. The arts are used as a tool to bring people together to raise awareness.

Beyond Party Politics is a Brisbane group. Twin-towning to spread environmental inspiration. We will now transition into the next workshop.

Who’s here at the discussion?

Glenda Hobdell is an artist in residence here at LINES, also Virginia Jones (artist in residence), Jan who is dancing with Renata Buziak’s piece about medicinal plants, and who has worked with ASLEC, the association for the study of literature, environment and culture; Mitch is visiting and is giving a workshop tomorrow at Dunwich with giving island kids the chance to tell stories about the environment with ipads – digital art – and Amanda who works with the SLQ with Mitch, there will be a show called OUR Dreaming at the SLQ; Renata Buziak has a show of her biochromes (organically developed photos) at the Museum at Dunwich; Kaye Evans a local who has been disheartened about the environment and is really inspired to work for the land – her contribution is to pick up rubbish off the beach. The rubbish is coming onto the beach in mountainfuls. The Council says it is “logistically impossible” to bring up the rubbish. Bulldozing the rubbish under, as it is done at the Gold Coast, only kills the beach. She is so happy to see that LINES is doing positive things! 

Local artist Tanya Butt talks about how art is a healing proces with arts and nature for individual and groups to heal. 

Maggie Lyons – is involved in various environmental groups in the UK – Tree Sisters in the UK, transition towns in the UK and the Shoemacher (sp?) Society in the UK.

Todd is a graphic designer he is working at LINES as website, facebook and signage here for LINES. He is working to combine digital and physical art.

A representative from the mining company Deb Olive, is here to learn about LINES for the mines, and to find out about environmental work on the island.

Lisa Behan, an artist in residence

Casey is holidaying on th e island for mant years, she loves Stradbroke and is here to listen to what the artists are doing. She is concerned about four-wheel driving on Stradbroke. 

Caselle Mountford – she is an artist – and was involved with the pilot project for lines –

Sharon Jewell is an artist – and curated the residency – she is saying how the residency this year ihas been amazing – an intensive immersion in Nature and working w natural materials in the land… and not coming here with a particular idea but also about the unexpected and surprises. More on this later. Compare this to the white cube of the gallery – we don’t have to strat witha blank page like in a drawing – The environment says that there is no blank slate – we are already here, we have to interact with what is already living and existing. the white cube is a mediated environment, despite its “emptienss.”


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