In 'Tributaries', a solo exhibition at MAC, what you'd see may be as beautiful as it may be disturbing. Through wearable jewellery, objects and photographs I am depecting the fragility of the nature around us in Western Australia. Without prejudice - for I too am a 'settler' - I
point towards the impact of colonialism and of climate change on Western Australia's biodiversity. In collaboration with the Animal Morphology Museum at the Ghent University, I am presenting corrosion casts of animal parts such as the arterial system of a head, of horse's feet, of dog lungs. These incredibly delicate objects are juxtaposed with fine metal objects representing native Australian flora and fauna.
Image: Baby wallaby skull, 2021, sculpture in fine silver, 95 x 35 x 35 mm. Photography Yasmin Eghtesadi
For 20 years my creative practice has centered around 'precious nature', using fine metals and natural gemstones to draw attention to the incredible diversity of eucalyptus trees and other flora around us. The continued onslaught of the forests and bushland due to human settlement over the past 200 years, the ongoing urbanisation and the increasingly catastrophic climate events resulting in hotter and more devastating fires, draughts and floods than ever before, alarm us. Meanwhile our political leaders continue to support coal and dig us more deeply into an unavoidable grim future. The First Nations, the Noongar people who are the traditional custodians of this land who cared for the land for over 40,000 years, have been disconnected from this task due to deliberate and disruptive government policies so the land, the forests, the coral reefs, ocean and the waterways are left unprotected.
In view of the social, political and ecological reality around us, I have decided to step up and take a more radical position, showing some possibly disturbing images of animal parts and threatened nature. I learnt corrosion casting during a Symbiotica residency in 2011, and wanted to show the flow or life and death by exposing arterial systems, fragile and beautiful, juxtaposed with skulls and bones of native animals: a baby wallaby, a snake. I work in fine metals, silver and gold, gemstones, and recycled copper to emphasise how these are precious. I cast, forge, knit and crochet.
Image: Tread lightly #2 , 2021, corrosion cast horse hoof by Christophe Casteleyn & Dr Sofie Muylle, Department of Morphology, Ghent University. 230 x 55 x 60 mm, and wire sculpture in silver by Tineke Van der Eecken. Photography Yasmin Eghtesadi.
Why these? I must add some introspection to what I am presenting. I am a migrant, descendant from a European cattle farmer grandparent, a lace-making grandmother, a Flemish freedom fighter and peace-loving politician/mother, an engineer-father and metal sculptor. Since migrating to Western Australia in 2001, I have been observing, collecting, making as part of the new communities I found, joining other makers and people who care.
'Tributaries' is a culmination of these years of growing insights and continuous making, never shying away from new approaches, techniques or perspectives. For the first time, I present jewellery making and work in fine metals with biological art (), nature photography and poetry. As a published writer, I have refined some poems to tell the story. These become part of this multi-lingual and multi-layered visual landscape of 'Tributaries'.
Tributaries Exhibition Friday 5 November 7pm, and runs until 19 December 2021 at Mundaring Arts Centre, 7190 Great Eastern Highway, Mundaring, Western Australia. https://mundaringartscentre.com.au/exhibitions/tributaries