Thursday, March 28, 2013

Making home

'Making home - softening the edges (Hill End)' detail ©2013. Nicola Moss. Acrylic, natural ochre, charcoal frottage, rust stain, monoprint, canvas, interfacing, thread, hand cut papers. 300cm x 600cm variable. Courtesy of SGAR.

During my artist in residence at Hill End last year I stayed at Haefliger's cottage. The cottage belonged to Jean Bellette and her husband Paul Haefliger, who lived there in the 1940's and 50's. An award winning artist and tutor, Jean moved to Majorca with her husband in 1957 and never permanently returned to Australia. The cottage still holds many of her personal possessions. When Jean passed away in 1991, she bequeathed the cottage to NSW Parks and Wildlife service on the condition it become an artists' retreat. This generous bequest has contributed to an ongoing cultural heritage of artists visiting and working at Hill End.

Prior to the journey to Hill End my work focused on the ecology of landscapes, looking at contemporary issues of how communities shape environment through development and conservation. I went to Hill End thinking about the degradation of landscape I might see, over a century after the gold mining boom. It is there, still; but I found myself drawn to the cultural heritage that has adapted the ecology of Hill End over time.

When I arrived at the start of Spring, wattle was in full bloom and many fruit trees and remnant orchards throughout the town were bursting with spring blossom; making for a striking juxtaposition of native and exotic flower. Peach, pear, apricot, apple and quince are just a few of the fruiting varieties, many of them planted over 140 years ago. Some stand amongst the rubble of building that they once were planted next to.

My first exhibition of works from the residency focuses on this influence of culture and the idea of 'making home'. I am interested in the way this basic necessity of dwelling in a place, of making home and seeking comfort, the necessity of food and heritage of migration has shaped the ecology of Hill End.

'Making home - softening the edges' is a large paper cut installation I made to fit the gallery wall space at SGAR. This work features several exotic species which now contribute to the fabric of Hill End. Elements of 'making home' are interwoven with plant species reflecting on the adaption and shaping of landscape, and our relationship to it.

There are many unique qualities to Hill End. One is the opportunity to see stages of settlement in a place over several generations and the resulting impact of this on environment. The cultural heritage of adaption and introduction. Looking at the past has enabled me to reflect on the present. The choices we make today in shaping and adapting environments around us determines the heritage we leave for future generations. In ecology everything is connected....including time.

'Making home - softening the edges(Hill End)' ©2013. Nicola Moss. Acrylic, natural ochre, charcoal frottage, rust stain, monoprint, canvas, interfacing, thread, hand cut papers. 300 x 600cm variable. Installed at SGAR.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Making home - ecology (Hill End)

'Making home - ecology (Hill End)' ©2013. Nicola Moss. Acrylic on hand cut paper. Courtesy of SGAR.

I spent a day last week installing my show at SGAR, it was great to see it all up on the walls, and now it's just a short wait for the opening on Friday.

During my residency at Hill End I was aware that not only are all species connected in an ecology - time is also connected. The town of Hill End presents an intriguing place where the heritage of land use, migration and settlement can be seen clearly. From the gold rush boom of the 1870's and subsequent decline in population, to the interest of artists in the 1940's and 50's to today. My exhibition features works that reflect the influence of cultural heritage on environment. I have focused on the activity of making home, of dwelling in a place, and how this alters and adapts the surrounding ecology.

Situated like a small enclave within a rugged Australian landscape, Hill End is characterised by paling fences, remnant orchards and grand avenue trees. There is a blurring at the edges of this enclave, where coppiced forests cut for firewood and eroded mining gullies blend the adaption of native species and altered geology. Exploring the adaption of environment at Hill End has incorporated ideas of comfort, cycles of life and death, and the heritage of introduced exotic species. In a way simple needs - making home, necessity of food and softening the edges of living have shaped the cultural ecology of Hill End.

'Making home - ecology (Hill End)' 2013, features exotic species which contribute to the fabric of Hill End. The mandala like form was inspired by several needlework doily pieces I viewed while at Haefligers cottage.

My special thanks go to Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and staff for their support of the Hill End Artist in Residence Program and for funding the 2012 residency. Thank you.

I would like to extend you a warm invitation to the opening of Culture Ecology at SGAR: Spiro Grace Art Rooms, 255 Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill, Brisbane; on Friday 15th March, 6-8pm.

It will be lovely to see you if you can make it.