with charcoal from fires artwork
Cinder Dance & Black Summer – September 2021
Charcoal, tree sap, natural ochre from 2019/20 Black Summer Bushfires on paper
120cm x 114cm
During this time, I connected with Den Barber who runs Yarrabin Cultural Connections (YCC). Den is an Aboriginal man, descendant of the Traditional Custodians from Mudgee of the Wiradjuri people in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia.
What I discovered from Den helped me understand more about cultural burning and how it is all about caring for the environment.
I like the controlled risk in cultural burning and felt that connection with my mark making. When I made Cinder Dance, I invited nature to participate in the process and submerged the drawing into a dam. Then used rocks and tree sap to mark and colour the drawing and hit and swung large charcoal branches at the paper, trying to land the mark in the right spot. Often, I do but there is a risk, just like cultural burning. I was also thinking about how meditative the dance of flames can be in a fire when I created Cinder Dance.
Installation of burnt steel and aluminum cans, plastic and glass drink containers and beer and wine bottles. Approximately 1000 objects with dimensions variable within 3.5m x 3.5m
I used to chuck alcohol cans and bottles out of the car window. I did this to hide my drinking and prevent empties littering the car. I had no respect for the environment, myself or others, barely giving a second thought to anything but drinking.
I had a problem that was out of control.
Fortunately, I am one of the lucky ones and survived a troubled past. With support and a spiritual practice built on honesty, I haven’t consumed alcohol for 10 years. During that time my career has grown and includes participating in artist residencies.
In January 2020 after the Blue Mountains megafires, I went to BigCi Artist Residency at Bilpin, located in the burnt landscape and close to my former drinking dumping grounds. When I was walking around and investigating how to respond creatively to the bushfires, I noticed many abandoned, burnt cans and bottles.
Each one having a story that links back to the person that drank from and discarded it. After collecting for a few days, it occurred to me, some of these would be mine.
It seemed poignant and a complete loop of my recovery journey that I should be picking them up.