Shifting Sands: Botany Bay Today
21 Aug 2010 - 10 Oct 2010
A group of artists creating work in response to the social, cultural and environmental history of Botany Bay.
Shifting Sands: Botany Bay Today included work by Timothy Nohe (USA), Fiona MacDonald (NSW), Micky Allan and Steenus von Steensen (ACT), Julie Gough (TAS), Sarah Smuts-Kennedy (NZ) and Kate Rohde (VIC). Each of the artists immersed themselves directly in the site during an artist residency at Hazelhurst and examined many of the often contested narratives about Botany Bay that include Aboriginal dispossession and marginalisation, migration, urbanisation, industrialisation, and the associated ecological and environmental costs. Their responses illustrated the shifting terrain between their imaginings of the site and their actual physical experience of Botany Bay as a location.
For Julie Gough, Botany Bay was found to be an unstable, shifting space, “desolate and full of discarded objects”. This along with some of the tension she feels between unresolved, unvalued past and present is reflected in her installation and projections.
Micky Allan created her series Botany Bay Today in 1980 and now revisits the area in 2010 with Steenus von Steenson. The two bodies of work consisting of collages of their photography, painting and drawing, illustrate the changes that have taken place over the years and “the complex mix of forces that is Botany Bay”.
Sarah Smuts Kennedy also examined change in her work Dream Paradise where she created concrete markers of our civilised culture. The work is an attempt to change the tide of progress that has inflicted such environmental damage and encroachments on the landscape since civilisation.
Kate Rohde’s sculpture in the form of a large fluffy cloud portrayed Botany Bay as a place of nebulous, multifaceted meaning, with both extreme positive and negative connotations. Fiona MacDonald’s historical and hybrid images in her prints Drawing the line between Native and Stranger, illustrated the influence on our culture of those first encounters. Timothy Nohe’s Sounding Botany Bay, Sounding Kamay explored the human use of Botany Bay through documentary sound and photographs created over several years and visits from the USA.
All of the artists identified complex and conflicting forces at work and experienced a shared sadness and feeling of loss. Their journeys of exploration were enlightening and thought provoking.
Curated by Ace Bourke and Anna Lawrenson.
Image: Micky Allan & Steenus von Steensen, Girl, La Perouse (detail), 2010, digital pigment ink print, 20 x 25cm, from the series Botany Bay 2010.