Lisa Behan Pandanus People
Casselle Mountford Tree Weavings (detail)
Casselle Mountford Tree Weavings (details)
Virginia Jones Untitled
Virgina Jones Untitled (detail)
Jennie Truman Dancers on the Hill
Jennie Truman Dancers on the Hill (detail)
The walk around the gorges at Point Lookout lasts about half an hour if you take it fast. But if you take your time and look – the path offers the sights of migrating whales, dolphins coursing up and over the surf, and huge mantas and turtles closer to shore.
View from South Gorge
For Lines 2014, five artists contributed ephemeral environmental works that will last long enough to delight viewers during the festival and for a while afterwards, eventually decaying and returning to the soil or sea.
For the artists, working this way presents a set of challenges unlike creating a commodity, or for that matter, for any indoor purpose — be it painting, sculpture, video — you name it. Using found materials from the landscape or bringing ephemeral materials to the site is very different than making an oil painting that will last for centuries, or an installation that is exhibited for a month or two (but that must stand up to the physical stresses that public exhibition implies).
That being said, the opportunity for an artist to create out of doors, with an audience at hand, and permission to work within the public landscape is not usually so generously given. Particularly with the carte blanche offered by Lines and the Straddie community.
Ephemeral environmental art is meant to decay, and meant to be touched and viewed within the landscape. It’s a bit “rough and tumble”. It’s meant to connect nature to culture and vice versa, without necessarily championing one over the other. And it’s challenging to the artist because, well, how can you possibly compete with nature’s beauty, intelligence and design values? Impossible!
For Tricia Dobson, an artist who lives on neighbouring Russell Island, working out of doors for her first experience making art within the landscape seemed daunting at first, “almost as if I had to rediscover my muscles in order to work.” Trish usually paints and weaves, and so it makes sense that her work Untitled Tree Drawings uses both a graphic line and compositional effects to delve into the landscape and up the hill into receding space, creating depth, but still subtly echoing the size and scale of the branches, ground cover and leaves of the hillside.
Tricia Dobson at work
Tricia Dobson Untitled (Tree Drawings) detail
An artist like Casselle Mountford will work her magic weavings on site, up in the trees, and interact with the gesture and solidity of the trees as she weaves, calling on the viewer to consider formal concepts like transparency, shape, volume, colour, texture and scale, but also more affective topics such as where beings and borders begin and end, elements of organic form that call up presences like starfish, worms, bundled babies, and how the human-made interacts with the environment visually – and what is ‘natural’.
Casselle’s work will be exhibited starting Friday 4 July at the Redland City Art Gallery, as part of the show Convolutions, together with the work of Anaheke Metua, another artist working with Lines in the Sand 2014.
Virginia Jones’ clay works are most often shown outside, in the landscape, and are always meant to return to the soil. Her installation for Lines 2014, Untitled, is made from unfired clay and ilmenite, an ore found on Stradbroke Island that’s mined for a number of uses. Ilmenite is also a substance of spiritual value for the Quandamooka, and Virginia has received the sand from Craig Tapp, a Traditional Owner on the island.
Jones’ sculptures echo Zen Buddhist ideas of transience and simplicity. And there’s a sensual, tactile quality to what she makes that is definitely wabi sabi. She says that she’d like to remake this installation again and enlarge the scale to be big enough for a person to curl up inside the ‘bowls’.
Lisa Behan is a painter and sculptor, and has served as coordinator of the artists in residence for Lines 2014. She has installed groupings of Pandanus People all along the Gorge Walk for this year’s Lines, and her work this year – with its figurative, off-the cuff comic slant – relates more to her paintings than the installations she has previously created on the Gorge Walk. While the pandanus figures are very simple, they’re also elegantly and seamlessly installed, and kind of hilarious. There’s more than a hint of Dada and Surrealism here – similar to her paintings – and beautifully played here as a visual pun on ‘the figure in the landscape’.
Jennie Truman has responded to the flowing gestural rhythm and skirt-like roots of pandanus trees in her Dancers on the Hill to also create figures in the landscape, but on a much different scale, transforming entire trees into flirty, fabulous, sexy dancers. It would be great to see how she would work the same transformation for male dancers ( ; Jennie lives on the Island and owns the Drift Gallery at Point Lookout. Her keen eye for detail and the beautiful care with which she has created her figures is both intimate and sensitive to the way things look and are read by the eye – whether she uses banksia pods for ‘jewelry’ or gum leaves for ‘hair’.
Matt and Nick view the art in style.