Solastalgia: Touring 2018-2021
VIDEO: The Gateway string figure.
Performed by Nirijee Paroolitilpa and Jo Wilmot at the Coorong, 21-08-2017.
Film production Jelina Haines.
Top right: Jo Wilmot & Njiree Paroolitilpa 'The Necklace' 2017 vintage mother of pearl beads, silk thread (detail); Top left: installation at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery. Bottom: the Gateway String Figure performance at the Coorong.
Image: Jo Wilmot,
'Dead man's fingers'
Image: Lesa Farrant
McDonalds chips containers and Big Mac packaging, wood, hot glue
Photo: Heidi Wolff
Image: Claire Brooks Plastic Soup 2017, collected beach plastic, shell, mild steel.
Photo Jo Wilmot
Image: Leonie Westbrook 'Beyond Repair' Photography: Jo Wilmot
Solastalgia is a collaborative touring event that connects Adelaide based jewellers/object makers Claire Brooks, Lesa Farrant, Leonie Westbrook and Jo Wilmot with regional artists, schools and others who wish to voice their personal or political take on the particular aspects of climate change that affect them.
Regional Galleries Association SA is bringing member galleries and the artists together to present Solastalgia. An exhibition already confirmed for the South Coast Regional Arts Centre in Goolwa from 1 September to 4 October 2018 with local artists on board to expand on the exhibitions themes and create new work for presentation there.
The title of this exhibition, 'Solastalgia', was coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2003 to describe the sense of loss caused by "negatively perceived changes to home and landscape" or more simply “the homesickness you have when you are still at home”. He formed the word Solastalgia by combining the Latin word solacium, meaning comfort with the Greek root algia meaning pain. It is used as a term to describe the psychic or existential distress caused by environmental change, such as mining or climate change.
In the shadow of the growing consciousness and concern about the effects of global warming, is a collective anxiety about the passing of a once familiar and trusted experience of the natural world.
Artists Claire Brooks, Lesa Farrant and Jo Wilmot have considered man’s impact on the fragile coastal environment and the result is a thoughtful and poetic collection of works in porcelain, steel, brass and beach detritus. Solastalgia comments on our impact on the environment, our responsibilities and our legacy and is a poetic and thought provoking exhibition.
The exhibition first opened at Gray Street Workshop in Adelaide in March 2017.
ARTISTS AND ARTWORKS
Embedded in this 'oil slick' black porcelain and brass exhaust tubes is my deep fears for the future of the natural world. Early morning walks collecting and casting algae, seaweed and sea sponges washed up at Carpenter Rocks and Pelican Point in the South East seemed different last summer. The gathering, casting and realisation of these works felt like a last embrace; a lament for something that might soon be lost.
This contribution to 'Solastalgia' draws attention to the plight of this little known nor respected ecosystem, the foundation for all ecosystems on the planet. Sea grasses absorb 100 times more CO2 than our rainforests, filter pollutants, and provide important coastal protection. Sadly 95% of Tasmania's kelp forest has been lost due to currents warming the coastal waters 3 times faster than anywhere else in the world, and in its wake 'barrens' of black sea urchins. It is an alarming signifier for the world's radically changing ecologies and the ramifications of climate change. The title for the installation 'Dead mans fingers' is the common name for the Codium family of Algae. Thriving in low light and warmer waters, it is ironically one that may well survive into the future.
Jo Wilmot in collaboration with Njiree Paroolitilpa
Historically, string figures have symbolised the relationships between friends, family, place and time, their forms changing and adapting as they travel between peoples and cultures. Embracing the interactive nature of string game storytelling, the beaded Mother of Pearl figure weaves the vital message about our connectedness to the living beings that are the oceans, rivers and lakes around us, with the indigenous connection to country, and family and ancestral knowledge.
Jo began restringing the beads during phone conversations with Njiree who was sharing dreaming stories and poems about the spirit of the water and the Coorong. Embracing the story telling synchronicities, the giant beaded string figure features selected etched and ochred words from Njiree's poems. Jo and Njiree also documented the creation of a giant string figure at the Coorong on video.
The works for 'Solastalgia' explore my continuing interest with detritus in our natural environment. They depict a selection of both local and introduced plant species that grow on the fragile sand dunes and cliff tops near my home at Willunga Beach. Like the plastic treasure entwined throughout clumps of brown and black sea wrack on our beaches and in our oceans, the introduced plants and weeds have also quietly invaded our beaches and cliff tops and now cohabit with the local plant species. Using natural and unnatural found objects including sticks, shells, plastic bottles and drinking straws found at my local beach, works for 'Solastalgia' portray a fragile littoral line up of weedy and local plant specimens of natural and unnatural coherence.
A sobering observation of the change to a once familiar natural environment occurred a few years ago on a trip to Bather’s beach in my hometown of Fremantle, WA. Every single piece of seaweed I lifted hid thousands of tiny plastic fragments. It was heartbreaking to find more plastic washed up on the beach than shells.
I began researching the ‘plastic soup’ phenomenon and the catastrophic consequences of this intersection between nature and manmade detritus. Animals mistakenly ingest microscopic plastic fragments, unable to determine these from plankton. Over the last few years a collated collection of this deadly beach treasure has found a safer place within a series of wearable jewellery pieces.
The sculptural forms created for 'Solastalgia' further highlight the fragility of our coastal environments. The plastic fragments are encapsulated in handcrafted boxes representing plankton forms which are then embedded within patinated steel seaweed structures. Each frond is carefully positioned to create a sense of light, balance and shadow, exposing and guarding its ‘precious’ but lethal cargo.
I was horrified to find out that you could buy ‘beach treasure’ on eBay, artificially made to resemble washed and burnished beach flotsam and jetsam. Thinking about the rubbish that ends up in the ocean and the market for faux beach treasure Leonie embarked on a journey to take ordinary trash and make it desirable through imitating the processes of the ocean. Her starting point was the ‘disposable’ plastic hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles, which Leonie has cut, twisted and tumbled into soft tangled jewellery forms. Accompanying the jewellery items is an installation of ceramic shards, a jigsaw of soft forms that hint at a former function.
CALL FOR CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS
Galleries will be invited to seek Expressions of Interest from local emerging and professional artists who wish to develop and exhibit work centred around the intersection between human activity and the altered natural environments along our beaches, oceans, reefs and waterways, and which aligns with the broader theme of climate change, for possible inclusion in the exhibition. It is possible that the touring exhibition may evolve from place to place as new works are created.
It is anticipated that the visceral encounters and deep engagement with works created for this exhibition will provide a platform to encourage conversation and active participation in initiatives that will positively impact on our environment.
The project is particularly relevant for galleries near coasts or rivers. However, there are very likely other stories to tell in relation to climate change all over the state.
Funding is being sought for schools and groups to participate in the creation of additional works which tell local environment stories, amplify the fragility of the local environment and provoke local debate. Galleries will also be able to negotiate with the artists to deliver artist talks in conjunction with the exhibition.