site specific ephemeral sculpture

Ecological Art

1 Belonging

Belonging

Belonging incorporated 300 plants donated by the Lullfitz nursery and aimed to raise awareness of  the importance of planting with local native plants in our gardens and local green spaces.

5 Mirror

Mirror, Mirror.

Mirror, Mirror was part of the Balingup Islands project. This was my main work and included the planting of local wetland species.

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Islands – Earth Art and Bush Rehabilitation.

by Elaine Clocherty (an Extract from an article for the Community Arts Magazine 2006)

The Islands project was a unique event combining art and bush rehabilitation. It was located adjacent to the Balingup Brook on the Bibbulmun track, near the Origins Centre.

Over the three years I organised ‘Art Trails’ which involved local communities and artists creating sculptures using natural materials which celebrate local ecologies.  Along side this there was tree planting, weeding and seeding. A key aspect of the project was to bring many sections of the Balingup community together including the Balingup Catchment Group, the Progress Association, Balingup Tourist Association, the local school and local artists. The project was also supported by surrounding communities, such as the Blackwood Catchment Group and the Donnybrook Art Jam group and supported by the Department of the Environment, Healthways, Mission Employment and Greencorp.

One of the most successful aspects of this project was to involve local artists and local community members and empowering them to create the artworks. It is tempting to bring in outsiders who have more experience, however, for the long term care of an area and for community building, training the locals is invaluable.

We called the project Islands, small pockets of ecological hope in a large area of weed infestation. They are living sculptures evolving over time creating habitat and bringing health back to the brook. They are a vehicle and a symbol of the community’s interest in caring for this ecology. Finally we hope that they inspire members of the community to create their own Islands small enough for them to care for and watch over time.

As part of the event Evan Coumbe and I worked with the local schools making Earth Art.  This style of art making is so enjoyable and accessible. Participants were given guidance but were also given freedom to construct their own creations. When the school came to the Islands project they added the next level of tree planting. Getting a chance to be outdoors and along their local brook: planting, exploring and creating has left a lasting mark. A good number of parents also turned up to support the kids and help create the works They have not forgotten and often go back to the brook and bring their friends.

One year we worked with the Donnybrook/ Balingup Greencorp team. The team initially worked with Evan to clear areas for the schools to make their sculptures and I facilitated creation of their own sculptures. Initially they felt ‘I’m not creative’ or ‘I’m not an artist’, but with a little advice and guidance they were able to construct some really great works. The artworks included a large ‘Alice in Wonderland’ chair with creepers planted around the base and a banksia as back support, a large mandala, weavings, a bird nest and a circular wooden fire place. Jenny the team leader said her teams will never plant in rows again! During the Islands week the team members worked with other key artists in a mini metoring program. For the Greencorp team it broadened and deepened their understanding of the role of creativity in land rehabilitation as well as stimulating their creative possibilities. It was beautiful to see some of the crew bringing their loved ones and proudly showing the sculptures they had made.

This project successfully brought art and science together to engage the human sprit in a way that genuinely helps this little brook.

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