by Les Walkling on April 1, 2015


Les Walkling, NORTH  2014, Pigment Inkjet Print 1512 x 1499mm

As a collective, we share a fascination with these far-away places, though not in the way that scientists are fascinated by things collected and identified, but rather, we are fascinated by the things we can’t see; our speculation and interaction, our wanderings and pondering.

And we are fascinated by their edges and boundaries: between solid and liquid, weight and weightlessness, hot and cool, wet and dry, between ourselves and the rest of the world, and that stain or residue that is at the heart of our troubled urban relationship with such far away places.

In rethinking environmental aesthetics and the role that works of art, especially photographs, can play in such debates, the time will hopefully come when we ask of any encounter, ‘not what does this say about us, but what does this say about our environment?’ For our problem is not so much how we appropriate or project country as an aesthetic object, our problem is how we index, moralise and politicise land use in a way that addresses the urgency surrounding our worryingly fragile relationship to land and landscape, place and belonging, rights and responsibilities, sovereignty and reconciliation.

At the very least we would hope to make pictures that acknowledge this struggle and dislocation, that point to what is possible or unlikely, and mimic a more general theory of habitation including the myths we incite, the paving we import, and the gate keeping we impose. Environmental injustice reinforces, indeed encourages concern for the fate of the earth. Our responsibility now is to act on such an awareness.

For what do we really know of these far away places? Very little except that they are remote and ancient; places of extremes, both climate and distance, culture and dislocation. What is important is what we discover about ourselves; our myths and prejudices, our presumptions and preoccupations. For we see only what we know, and we respect only what we understand.

Collaborative practice is also a way of working and thinking about what we do as visual artists where the profit derived from each other’s enthusiasm, research and practice is more than enough motivation to spend time together. Sharing resources in a resource rich world becomes a small stand against the excesses of our culture and its rummaging and vociferous ways, and provides a plausible alternative that allows us to tread a little lighter on this earth.

Our work is certainly compelling evidence of what can happen when a group, formed from diverse but supportive individuals secure enough in their own practice, decide to experiment with it. Where the importance of vision and imagination in changing minds, lives, and policy, is as important as in composing words, poems and pictures. At the very least we offer our sincerity, respect and acknowledgement, and hope that our endeavours will be viewed in this light.

But real change will happen only when we once again fall in love with this earth.

(This artist statement was presented at Maud Creative in Brisbane for the opening of our ND5 NORTH + EAST exhibitions which ran from the 27 March to 26 April 2015.)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Doug Gimesy April 22, 2015 at 5:18 am

That’s a really eloquently written artists statement.


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