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Greg Day’s article, ‘Through the Prism of Ancient Practice’, prompts sharing some vistas from a little further inland – will there emerge a new expression to rival Day’s to gammage.* ?
Lake Corangamite, early 2016
Inland is the crater, lake and grassy plain area of Kanawinka. Gulidjan country, is ‘my’ part. Old photos looking down from Red Rock nearby show more stubby tree growth on the rock face than is evident today, whereas Day’s early benchmark, Nicholas Chevalier’s Louttit Bay towards Point Grey, (1862), shows less. Last year local man, John Clarke, atop Red Rock, swept his arm north-east: ‘Once grassland, as far as you could see’.
Another Chevalier The Hill, Residence of William Robertson, Overlooking Lake Colac, (1863), makes a bucolic idyll of the perspective, Red Rock and Mt Warrion seem just rising above lake and tree speckled grasslands, ‘borrell-a-kandelop’ – ‘resting place for water birds’ in local dialect. The straight lines of demarcation that patchwork the landscape now, were not there ‘then’. This reminds me of the means of boundaries. Easter 2015, when out looking to honour family ritual of gathering rosehips at this time, I notice that on this poor and arid side of the highway, among the tough craters and lakes, there were no hips to be found. Not for these parts the grace of the rose – it is the African thornbush that marks the line and dissuades the pugging animal from straying. These bushes are slowly being uprooted eradicate traces of desperate early measures to tame – another vestige of floral archaeology disappears.
What of time and trace, and time and no trace – how well do we look, how well do we see? What do we remember? Geert Lovink (2011) answers, most poetically:
What we know by heart defines a country.
How well Aboriginal people know this. How we need to revere our artists – who digest what they see, in their hearts!
Georgia Harvey, Quiet Chimes (2016)
Several times lately I have accompanied artists out to the eastern shore of Lake Corangamite – our cries of delight at its austere beauties repeatedly hit the breeze. Salt sparkles seductively within colours so subtle that even in these almost waterless times there’s a visual feast – pale pale pinks and multitude saline greys even in the day’s ferocious light, the littoral more determinedly colourful with lacings of Sea Blite, Beaded Glasswort and low salt bush. The lake and its environs so inspired these artists that it has blossomed, uncommissioned, in their artwork. In April WINDOWSPACE-BEEAC has had the pleasure to show and share Quiet Chimes, (2016), Georgia Harvey’s ceramics. Lee Mullen will show in May ‘an impermanent propositional placard for banded stilts’ and so the interaction of art and landscape and fauna continues.
Lee Mullen, SS (2016)
The weathered façade of WSB, with its layers of proprietary claim, bears some resemblance to its salty context too.
WINDOWSPACE-BEEAC, 79 Main Street, formerly Gaingers’ Garage, offers a handsome window display area, now repurposed as a not-for-profit artist run initiative (ARI) showing contemporary art work and enabling sharing of artists’ responses to the area.
* To gammage – to marry an artist’s representation from the historical archive with close observation of the present-day landscape