Monday, June 3, 2013

here art grows on trees

Simryn Gill | Malaysia b.1959 | Forking tongues 1992 | Assorted cutlery with dried chillies | 600cm (installed, diam., approx.) | Purchased 2001. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation

Takes hours to fly over to there from here, Australia is a long way from New Zealand. Across the Tasman Sea, there's a huge continent sometimes called The Big Island. We are a series of islands, they are a vast continent. We're temperate in NZ, they range from temperate to tropical. Their indigenous people were and are rather different to ours. Indigenous Australians are, I believe, divided into four main mobs, whereas Maori people have many iwi or tribes and were settled, agricultural when they first set eyes on Caucasians. The inhabitants of The Big Island over the way were hunters and gatherers, extremely different to the settled British culture.

It's confusing living here in some ways and I'm probably not helping by calling a continent an island, am I? But that's what life's like here. Odd.

Australia is next to New Zealand and we sometimes joke that we walk over there when the tide is out. Overseas friends may get us muddled up, our Pakeha or Westernised accents seem alike, but theirs is more drawn out and ours softer. Aussies say feeesh and cheeeps, we say fush and chups, (for fish and chips). The 'white' people did come from England initially around the same time to Oz and NZ, when Caucasians first settled in this part of the world, however Australian British migrants were mainly urban, whereas NZ's British migrants were mostly rural. This immediately gave us both a different sound and attitude, generally, (and naturally too we are all individuals).

The recent effects of climate change, (a man-made global event we are all affected by, which we can stop or slow down by reducing the production of gases like carbon and methane, and by planting more trees), has turned parts of Australia into arid wastelands. The middle of the place is already a desert but that kind of desolate landscape is increasing there. Farms have been abandoned in despair, over the ditch. It's suggested we could have lots of Australians move here soon, to escape the effects of climate change.

In NZ however we just experienced a severe drought last summer. Now we're having floods and storms. 

While there is more water in the atmosphere than ever before, temperatures are also higher. There has never been so much carbon in the air while human beings have existed. This is a whole new scenario.

No one can predict what the future holds, except that we need to be more creative to survive it. People will have to think quick on their feet and go with whatever occurs, or fight fast against some things with rapid plans. We are faced with more chaos than usual.

It could be argued that the austerity measures imposed on so many countries is a clumsy way of trying to reduce emissions. If people have hardly any money and no work, they they cannot consume much or travel far. Meanwhile the elite travel when and where they please, money still being the way many of them get what they want, without question. 

Imagine if you saw the plants, animals and people dying, at the same time as you tripped across the world this year on holiday. Would that encourage you to also pay for the trees to soak up the carbon you produced? It was only $200- NZ extra to cover the carbon-cost for my trip across the ocean, and across the U S A last year. I used mainly boat and train to get there, (lower carbon) and a return flight. This paltry sum was to have trees planted, so I could rest assured I'd not helped to make the wider world a hostile place that will kill future generations, just so I could have some fun.

I also went vegetarian for the same reason. In some cases, not eating meat means we save more carbon than by giving up our car. I no longer eat meat most of the time, so I can still drive my car. If I could afford one, I'd have some kind of alternative-fueled model. Why don't we have solar cars and electric cars, everywhere?

So, yes, we need to be more creative. 

Art and music and films and dance and so on all may inspire us.  

Artists of all kinds are indispensable in any society.

At the Venice Biennale this year an Australian artist, Simryn Gill, a resident there, (rather than a citizen), brings that perspective to her work. She exhibited about nature and man-made items co-existing, overlapping, interacting. Gill's show is made of everyday objects and she transformed the Australian pavillion. This artist opened part of the roof to the elements, changed the walls and floor, then added her collections of objects. I include a video of the exhibit, here art grows on trees on this blog at the end.

Again, as I often do, I asked myself - When many of us finally see ourselves as natural, will most of us at last care properly for where we live?

Recently, this man quoted below, Leon Weiseltier said artists are indispensable. We certainly are and it felt grand to read someone explain why so eloquently. Now more than ever, explore your creative side, befriend artists, writers, musicians, dancers and others. Let us together also replant this planet, reduce our waste and emissions, rejoice as we change the world for the better, from this moment on.

" ...offer some resistance to the twin imperialisms of 

science and technology, and to recover the old 

distinction — once bitterly contested, then generally 

accepted, now almost completely forgotten – 

 between the study of nature and the study of man. As 

Bernard Williams once remarked, “’humanity’ is a name 

not merely for a species but also for a quality." You 

who have elected to devote yourselves to the study of 

literature and languages and art and music and 

philosophy and religion and history — you are the 

stewards of that quality. You are the resistance....

Use the new technologies for the old purposes."

My exhibition - Struck - at Cosset Paper Gallery 

1087 New North Road 

Mt Albert 

please go along Tues - Sat.,  and see it.

Here is also the Symrin Gill video - here art grows on trees -

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