Here is my review of Elizabeth’s beehive installation at Lorne Sculpture Park, published in the December issue of Sculpture Magazine.
My Studio @ Bimblebox in the golden soft light of late arvo (complete with hammock)
Carl, Gregg, Michael and Beth work on getting something to work
Photo: Glenda Orr
Artists’ camps are a great tradition in Australia. The bush is revered by everyone here, and camping together on the land creates the opportunity to make art within nature and with other like-minded souls. I was lucky enough to spend time at the third Bimblebox artists’ camp in the company of 12 other artists and activists a couple weeks ago. Since then I’ve been wondering how the amazing sense of community and resulting energy sensitised to this special place can be used to further the fight to save the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, which is threatened by coal mining development.
I’m thinking about this: What if the art form at work here is the camp and the activity associated with, and created by it? Not limited to only artworks made by the artists during the camp… the whole shebang is a happening with outwardly rippling effects over time. There was a laid-back, yet intense cross-pollinization among all of us that included working the farm, cooking, repairing fences, filming a docko, painting, drawing… and even I rode Rooster the easy-going gelding to bring the bulls in from the paddock. Another highlight for me was John and Glenda’s (both trained as scientists) discussion of the chemical event aka photosynthesis in its most basic, known form of energy exchange by isotopes (I believe that’s almost correctly stated).
Think: a touch of sleeve – it’s like the butterfly effect – sometimes known as ‘networking’. But this is a particular kind of small scale gathering. One that can lead to bigger, unexpected outcomes — based on time spent together, influences, conversations, and unique works of art. I’m not making grand assertions here, as if Bimblebox artists’ camp is like the Burning Man Festival. But, you never know. And maybe if we enlarge our concept of what art is to include collaboration, yes, we need to allow events to be art that unfold(s) over time, with definite, unscripted goals. Well, it’s really food for thought. And documenting such activity could take many interesting and yet undiscovered forms and provide impact.
This 2014 camp started in this way: Many artists exchanged emails over a period of about two-three weeks with Jill Sampson (the Australian artist who inaugurated the Bimblebox Art Project and artists’ camps, and who has obviously thought a lot about these things), Paola Cassoni (who is an owner of Bimblebox, an amazing activist on its behalf and the fabulous camp cook during the artists’ stay), and Ian Hoch (another owner, who also runs the cattle station on Bimblebox) to decide who was able to attend, how and when they would arrive and to generally make plans. Prior to travelling at least 14 hours by car, there were many considerations: accident waivers to sign, lists of groceries to procure, difficult driving directions to understand, camping equipment to pack, for example. Because Bimblebox is really in the middle of nowhere, all must be carefully prepared. And we haven’t even spoken of all the preparations (carried out by Paola, Ian and Carl) necessary to support the artists and their needs during the camp.
The road to Bimblebox
Photo: Pat Hoffie
I will be developing these ideas on future posts. All thoughts welcome. What follows below are photographs of the people and the place and related links. Next blog will include artworks and more thoughts.
(On an earlier blog at polycentrica, I posted a review of the excellent exhibition Bimblebox: art – science – nature (curated by Beth Jackson) that showcases artists’ work from camps run in 2012 and 2013. Bimblebox is currently touring Australia to raise awareness of this and other nature refuges in serious trouble.)
The road to Bimblebox – Acland coal train
The road to Bimblebox: Bottle trees
Photo: Pat Hoffie
Carl Hoch (Bimblebox genius caretaker), me, John Davis (filmmaker)
The Bimblebox Artist Camp – Beth Jackson (curator of Bimblebox touring exhibition) and Michael Foley (Artist) enjoy a tete a tete
Pat’s truck and swag
Photo: Pat Hoffie
Glenda Orr (Artist) and Michael Foley
Paola Cassoni (Bimblebox activist, owner and incredible chef)
Photo: Pat Hoffie
Heathland around the camp and solar panels for power
Frida Forsberg (Artist), Paola, Glenda, Pat Hoffie (Artist)
Frida working quietly in the end-of-day light
Pat and Carl drilling bones
Photo: Glenda Orr
Frida painting and drawing
Photo: Glenda Orr
Pat, Frida and Emma Hamm (Artist)
Paola’s website and blog: http://bimblebox.org/about/
Website for the exhibition Bimblebox – art- science – nature:
The documentary film on Bimblebox by Mike O’Connell:
Bimblebox Art Project Blog by Jill Sampson, encompassing all aspects:
While marches are going on in India, Burundi and Indonesia, here in Brisbane it’s the end of the day. What follows are photos from today’s march that was at least 2,000+ strong.
Just think of it as a gigantic, continuous sweep of people around the globe calling for truth, sanity and creative action!
Alison Clouston & Boyd, Coalface 2014
Luke Roberts, All Souls Day (Tree) 2009
Anyone living anywhere should see Bimblebox: art – science – nature or learn about it and view it online (or with the amazing iPad app available free)… Because even though it’s about the nature refuge called ‘Bimblebox’ in Central Queensland (that was to be protected forever and is now slated to be ruined by coal mining), it’s really about everywhere. This is most surely happening – or something a lot like it – near you, too.
The Hunter Bros aka Gerald Soworka , Bimblebox Art Project – What’s yours is my coal mine 2013 (details)
‘NIMBY’ – ‘Not In My Back Yard’ – what was once envisioned as an issue locally, in Williamsburg, Chaco Canyon, Bophal or Rio: now we know we share only one ‘back yard’ and it’s the Earth in all her beautiful, vulnerable entirety, all parts are the whole.
Approximate location of Bimblebox Nature Refuge
Bimblebox Nature Refuge is a peaceful 8000 hectare sanctuary in central west Queensland (hear the sounds of Bimblebox bird song at dawn here). Threatened by a massive new coal development proposed by Waratah Coal (owned by Clive Palmer, businessman and Member for Fairfax in the Federal Parliament), Bimblebox was created by private citizens and government and meant to be protected in perpetuity. Waratah Coal has announced that its ‘China First’ mine (otherwise known as the ‘Galilee Coal Project’) would involve open cut mining in more than half of Bimblebox and underground mining of the remainder.
This one mine (among others also slated for the Galilee Basin) would extract 40 mega-tonnes of coal per year, which would be transported on a yet-to-be-built 468km rail line up to Abbot Point and shipped through the Great Barrier Reef on its way to China, to be burned for energy production. The Queensland Government approved the proposal in August 2013, and the Federal Government in December 2013.
Bimblebox was secured in 2000, an era when Queensland’s land clearing rates were amongst the highest in the world. It was purchased with the savings of a number of concerned individuals, as well as funding from the Australian National Reserve System program. Tragically, Nature Refuges and the protected areas that make up the National Reserve System are not automatically protected from mineral exploration and mining, which in Australia are granted right of way over almost all other land uses. (1)
Jill Sampson, Out in the Paddock, Bimblebox Artist Camp 2013
Jill Sampson, Vanishing Food Bowls 2013
Fiona McDonald, Mining Alpha from the Mining Galilee Series 2013
“The scorched-earth policies of a late and increasingly desperate capitalism,” is how the American art and social critic Lucy R. Lippard describes the current state of mining companies’ activities in the American Southwest. Her new book, Undermining: A Wild Ride In Words and Images through Land-Use, Politics and Art in the Changing West tells multiple stories similar to Bimblebox’s, and looks at art that has focused on the land, land use and related issues of the environment.
Lippard talks about undermining in all of the senses of the word – ” as in pits and shafts that reflect culture, alter irreplaceable ecosystems, and generate new structures; undermining’s physical consequences, its scars on the human body politic; undermining as what we are doing to our continent and to the planet when greed and inequity triumph; undermining as a political act- subversion is one way artists can resist.” (2)
Bimblebox: art – science – nature as an exhibition is not meant to be subversive in a manner we’ve come to expect. It will tour for two years throughout Australia, and venues will include towns and cities where mining is the biggest employer. The works in the show range from quietly oppositional to in-your-face don’t f*ck with me. And so viewers will be exposed to a whole range of responses from artists… but there is very little irony in the show, and no one would leave the exhibition unsure as to where the artists stand, much less lacking information as to how the Galilee Basin will be affected by the large scale mining proposed.
The pointed nature of the exhibition, whose works were almost all made during two artists’ residency camps at Bimblebox (the first time many of the artists had visited there), is supported by the excellent quality of the work. Curated by Beth Jackson of Artfully, the Redland Gallery space is beautifully choreographed throughout — not an easy task given the number of artists and their diverging styles.
Jill Sampson, Project Coordinator and contributing artist, is a tireless advocate for the Bimblebox Nature Reserve. Her vision for the exhibition grew out of her concern “that much of Australia is being claimed for mineral and gas extraction regardless of ecological value”. (3) Bringing artists to Bimblebox to be on the land, immersed in its particular kind of beauty, and to creatively respond while on site – results in an exhibition that brings Bimblebox to the viewer in a way that is unquestionably contemporary, timely and of the moment. If you walk in the gallery and look at the work, you are further implicated if you turn away from the issues. The show will act as an educational tool as well as a visiting point for school and social groups.
As Jackson states in her curatiorial essay, “Viewing is an active part of an ongoing process to learn from Bimblebox, not about it.”
Seventeen artists in total are included in Bimblebox: art – science – nature. Alison Clouston and her collaborator, Boyd, created Coalface at Bimblebox from walks in the bush “looking for life, spying with binoculars and a small movement sensor camera.” Donna Davis’ REsearch proposes “scientific research as a vehicle to discover new green technologies to replace resource mining…” so that native flora and fauna survive in situ rather than as specimens in science museum displays. Fiona McDonald uses found archival photographs as the basis for her digital drawings of mine maps. Her Mining Galilee series talks about “undercurrents in social processes of inclusion and exclusion… throwing into stark contrast the tragedy of the European presence compared with millennia of Aboriginal occupation of the same space.” (4)
Other artists include: Pamela CroftWarcon, Howard Butler, Kaylene Butler, Emma Lindsay, Liz Mahood, Samara McIlroy, Glenda Orr, Michael Pospischil, Jude Roberts, Luke Roberts, The Hunter Bro’s aka Gerald Soworka, and Shayna Wells.
For further information on how to download the digital catalogue go to: http://www.bimbleboxexhibition.com
For information about Redland Gallery and gallery location and hours go to: http://www.more2redlands.com.au/ArtGallery/CurrentExhibitions/Pages/default.aspx
You can also follow the Bimblebox Art Project at the blogsite:
Bimblebox: art – science – nature App for iPad
Anyone interested in the future of digital publishing might want to check out this Digital Art Exhibition Catalogue with its content rich environment and embedded interactivity. Artworks in a real world gallery are one thing but this app provides a virtual experience of a remote place – the Bimblebox Nature Refuge in central western Queensland; 17 artists interpretation of that place, including photography and video footage of artist interviews, artist camps, studios and artmaking processes; and information on the social, scientific and environmental context of the Galilee Basin where proposed massive-scale coal mining threatens to destroy this precious place. Search for Bimblebox on the app store and download to iPad for free. Published by Tangible Media.
(1) http://bimblebox.org/about/, accessed 04/06/2014
(2) Lucy Lippard, Undermining: A Wild Ride In Words and Images through Land-Use, Politics and Art in the Changing West (The New Press, New York, 2013)
(3) and (4) Bimblebox: art – science – nature exhibition catalogue
Artwork Captions and Photo Credits:
Alison Clouston and Boyd
Soundtrack, video, electronics, aluminium, coal, rubber, greenhouse gas audit and offset
1050 x 1710 x 900 mm
Photo: Stephen Oxenbury
Alison Clouston and Boyd
Carbon Dating 2013 (detail)
Soundtrack, electronics, aluminium, rubber, coal, carboniferous mudstone, greenhouse gas audit and offset
1800 x 6000 x 300mm
Photo: Alison Clouston
Donna Davis, REsearch, 2013, (detail), Mixed media installation: pigment print, timber, sand & animal tracks, 1800 x 1200 x 300mm, Photo: courtesy of the artist
Jill Sampson, Out in the Paddock 2013, work in progress during artists’ camp. Photo: courtesy the artist
Jill Sampson, Vanishing Food Bowls, 2013, (detail), Mixed media installation: wire, silk, thread, paper, wool, wood, plastic, steel, 600 x 1530 x 1060mm, Photo: Carl Warner
Fiona MacDonald, Mining Alpha from the Mining Galilee series, 2013, Inkjet print on 180gsm archival paper, 720 x 560mm
Artwork source and reference images: Mercer Studio portraits courtesy the Central Queensland Collection, Rockhampton Regional Council Libraries; The Alpha Mine Test Pit, Galilee Basin, Queensland – cqnews.com.au
Photo: courtesy of the artist
Emma Lindsay, 15 endangered black-throated finches (Memento mori for Bimblebox), 2013, Oil on linen, 310 x 910mm, Photo: Elouise
The Hunter Bros aka Gerald Soworka , Bimblebox Art Project – What’s yours is my coal mine. 2013 (details)
Pair of artist’s books in hinged slipcase – mixed media drawing
Book 1 – 38 cm x 700 cm; Book 2 – 38 cm x 1624 cm. Image courtesy of the artist
Luke Roberts, All Souls Day (Tree), 2009 Photographic performance from the series All Souls Day, Pigment ink on cotton rag paper, 1800 mm H x 1200 mm W unframed Camera: John Elliott – Image courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane
National Divestment Day – Saturday, 3 May 2014
Yesterday I had the great good fortune to attend Brisbane’s Divestment Action at ANZ’s Queen Street Mall branch. While I’m personally in the process of divesting my money from ANZ – so I wasn’t able to join in on cutting up all my cards (drat!) – I was able to lend my support and take some photos to share with everyone who visits polycentrica.
Think about it – It’s a no brainer – Your money invested in companies that make money (and lots of it!) from practices that increase global warming. Alternative energy sources are much smarter investments. It’s only a matter of time and attrition before fossil fuels are outmoded… why not make it a clear choice that you can feel good about right now?
It can feel a bit scary to make the change from a bank that you’ve been using for a while. But now I know I can do it easily after getting some more info. Check out 350 Queensland’s video about this 96 year-old wonderful woman who has left Commonwealth Bank after 70 years!!
Here’s a link to MarketForces’ info about banks with regard to ethical practices: http://www.marketforces.org.au/banks/compare/
And another link to MarketForces’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MarketForces
And read this article in the Ecologist about how mega-fund Blackrock is divesting from fossil fuels. Coal and oil companies’ projected profits rely heavily on ‘unburnable’ reserves that will have to be left in the ground to meet carbon emissions standards.
Detail of Head On, 2006 by Cai Guo-Qiang
Photo by Christina Lowry
Here’s my Artlink review of the summer show at GOMA (that’s closing May 11th).
I was glad to have the opportunity to comment in print on this show because the work is mainly about spectacle. And while it treats an important subject – the environmental crisis – my experience of the art itself left me pretty much unmoved.
That so many people have been wowed by this exhibition: that’s interesting.
Have a read and I’d welcome comments from any and all of you.
Here’s the review: Cai Guo-Qiang at GOMA
Link to GOMA’s website: http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/cai_guo-qiang
I can now share with you the article I wrote about Virginia Jones’ ceramics practice.
Virginia’s gentle approach to speaking about her deeply felt connection to the Earth is none the less strong for using some of the simplest materials — ochres, sand, clay and text. Truly sustainable and in keeping with natural systems, Jones’ inquiry is quite radical in its purity of spirit.
I hope you enjoy!