Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cool Burn exhibition - Ancient light.

C O O L   B U R N

the CORRIDOR project
Curated by Phoebe Cowdery and Aleisha Lonsdale

As Bill heads out to the back verandah to have his morning cigar and coffee he informs me of the meaning of ancient light. It's meaning he conveys with a jovial enthusiastic urgency is one of an old English law.

(That's what I love about Bill, I'm constantly learning, his like having your own walking breathing google on tap.) 

It goes like this.... that if a person is to live in a dwelling, that the person has the right to be able to see the sky in the upper part of a window from the base of the opposite wall.

It made me think about how subjective that thought for our idea of habit and co-existence is, of the vast contrasts of cultures.

It made me rethink about last June when we were invited by Phoebe Cowdery of the CORRIDOR project, a creative think tank, along with 8 other Central West artists to take a group journey to Cape York. Starting from Sydney, flying to Cairns and heading to Laura & Old Mapoon in two troopys, right up to the very tippy top of Queensland, on the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Fire Earth Water

 The trip was all about the landscape and fire and we participated in fire workshops taught by aboriginal people using traditional fire management on country at Laura. Rural fire services from around Australia participated and a group from an American university were there as well. The only thing not there was a  firetruck or fire extinguisher.

The event extruded an ancient confidence in knowing ones land.


Our ingrained mindset of bush fire as a threat and not as an organic tool to use, to be comfortable with fire and it's advantages other than the fireplace, 
to imagine fire as cool, was such a revelation for me.  

To stand in this landscape of Cape York with fires burning all around you, a paddock of fire rings, to walk amongst, to hear dingos howling in the distance responding to whirly whirlys dancing through the fire rings and to be calm was such an extraordinary experience.

Why a cool burn?

 It's where the land is constantly maintained in rotation, mosaic burning. It's understanding the growth patterns and vegetation of the land and when to burn. So if the land is burned on a regular seasonal basis when the grass is low, then the animals and insects under the earth, in their burrows such as goannas, termites in mounds and in the trees, birds and the native bees are kept safe. 

The temperatures of the fire is controlled between cool and hot burn (where an undesirable plant is totally eradicated). 
 For the aboriginal people their landscape view is vast and dependable, there is always a view, be it physical or within sacred myths.

It's a curious landscape within the Cape, it reveals itself in jewels that are scattered here and there among the vastness. One moment you can be navigating the bulldust, the next you can be in a tropical waterhole, then turn the corner and there's sand and mangroves. 

The long kms are teased with these pockets of contrasts.

We were spoilt in the best possible way by the Old Mapoon community and with our guides Dianne and Marda Nicholls and Jason from the Land and Sea Rangers. Showing us their country, bringing with them a deep understanding of their country. 

#Laura Dance Fest #dilly bags and water  #no fear of fire #long kms in bulldust #termites #camping with crocodiles #circular fires #dingos whirling howling  #school workshops #ghost nets #a whole lot of art #rangers and mangroves #plastic flotsam adrift #still life in new forms #green ants for afternoon tea.

I came back thinking it's all about views and viewpoints.

It's about making new friendships.

And that as much as we think the future is going to deliver the goods it's often about our ancient history that gives you the views and to give ones mind a shakeup in the best possible way.

A r t i s t s

Aleisha Lonsdale, Rebecca Dowling, Genevieve Carroll, Nyree Reynolds, Irene Ridgeway, Phoebe Cowdery, Jo Marais, Heather Vallance, Bill Moseley, Dianne Nicholls, Marda Nichols 

Our trip was sponsored by
the CORRIDOR project
Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife
Mapoon Land and Sea Rangers
Cowra Council
Kanangra = Boyd to Wyangala Link  

                                                       B I L L   M O S E L E Y 

Image courtesy of Regional Arts NSW
Bill's response to the Cool Burn.

  In 'Burning at Laura', a flock of Kites wheel and dart amongst the flames picking up insects and small animals that fleet before the fire front of an Aboriginal land management fire.
Recent studies support Aboriginal contention that the birds will pick up burning twigs dropping them elsewhere in apparent symbiosis with the human inhabitants.

"White man's grave" shows a burial ground set within a bushy grove. Centrally, a stark concrete plinth supports a rusted cross that has been wrought from steel water pipe. Possibly that of a missionary to Old Mapoon, this grave significantly stands apart from the unmarked sites that surround it.

Ambrotype by Bill Moseley "White Man's Grave"

 Bill has used the nineteenth century techniques of Ambrotype and Photogravure to record his Cape York experience from our artists camp expedition in 2015.

Bill's interpretation of Aboriginal land management on country, was greatly informed by Bill Gammage's book, "The Biggest Estate on Earth" and found it invaluable in it's thorough analysis of historical evidence.

Photogravure by Bill Moseley "Burning at Laura"

 G E N E V I E V E C A R R O L L

T H E   W A T T L E   R O O M

Chapter 9

My thoughts are walking round the table.

My art is an ongoing visual memoir called THE WATTLE ROOM and each one of my
exhibitions is a chapter of my life.

My art circumnavigates self, still life and eccentric abstraction of the world that I live in.

This installation is inspired by my journey to Cape York, which experiments with
expressing semi whimsical states of mind, organic associations and psychological moods
through painting and installation. Reactions to this new environment transpired into a
suspended vigilance of learning a new and different strange world that I hadn’t
experienced before.

Worlds within worlds, natural and man made.

What I know.

Supermarkets and growing my own food.

What I didn’t know.

Cool Burns, Aboriginal food, how to use a dilly bag and eating green ants.

Anxiety and absurdity was drawn from my new experience of different ways of seeing
food on the table, outback isolation, sleeping near crocodiles, green ants that hang from
cocoons in the gum trees, sleepless nights and long distance driving in bulldust.


Ceramics and rubber bands, ceramics handmade at La Paloma Pottery Hill End were inspired by the green ants that live in built cocoons from gum leaves and hang from the trees.

Oil on board painting, looks at colliding worlds of how we view still life and food on the table. The painting depicts traditional European jugs and bowls juxtaposed with aboriginal dilly bags and the landscape of Cape York.

My thoughts are walking round the table, sculpture using paper mache and found table.

You can see more of our artwork at 

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