Picture Tree, 1997
Materials: Hanimette projector, photographic transparency, plastic bags, wall bracket, infra-red motion sensor
Reading an entry from an 1827 journal describing the journey from Annandale to Ashfield along Parramatta Rd triggered a curiosity in the plants and trees that were present in Sydney before European settlement. The description of the Turpentine-Ironbark forest on either side of the road was irreconcilable with my experience of the present-day Parramatta Rd, which is the epitome of an industrial era thoroughfare. The work evolved from a process of researching the flora of this other, earlier place; in reading botanical texts and visiting areas of remnant native vegetation. The photographic image projected onto the surface of the plastic bag in this work (which issues from a chance encounter in the studio), is of a 25m tall Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) in Ashfield Park, Sydney. Its height and 10m girth, suggests that it is very old, possibly a remnant of the original growth in the area, pre-European settlement. The faded, washed-out image of the Eucalypt resonates with the lone, iconic gums of pastoral European or Albert Namitjira’s landscape paintings or with school geography book pictures. These represented trees, come with complex and weighty cultural baggage. Perhaps the relationship that most urban dwellers have to ‘the bush,’ has much more to do with the way it is represented (to us, and for us), than with any actual experience of it.
Exhibited at Westspace, Melbourne, as part of a co-operative exhibition with Lisa Kelly.
Also exhibited at the 1999 Helen Lempriere exhibition at Artspace, Sydney and in the group exhibition, Space YZ, at Campbelltown Art Centre in 2021.
See Space YZ exhibition website
See review of Space YZ by Gail Fairley
See Samstag essay by Robyn McKenzie
See Russell Storer essay
See Bruce James' review of the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art