Remnant Artist Statement
1 Sep 2007
As my first major solo exhibition, this work of stoneware ceramics examines the important cultural associations people have with bottle trees Indigenous to South East Queensland. Supported by a Creative Sparks grant from Brisbane City Council and Arts Queensland.
I have an ongoing interested as a ceramicist in investigating and documenting a human connection with place, environment and cultural knowledge. As a maker – I feel it is increasingly important to produce crafted objects that convey or ‘hold’ memories of a specific physical and cultural environment. I understand my process as an act of literally weaving layers of cultural knowledge into ceramic objects so they are meaning–full about place.
Bottle Trees (Brachychiton spp.) are found in South East Queensland and inland along the Central Queensland Coast. The trees are generally stunted with a swollen trunk. They naturally exist in a type of dry rainforest with vine thickets occurring on undulating hills, lowlands and plains on a range of soil types.
I am attracted to Bottle Trees because of their anthropomorphic forms; their ability to hold water and survive droughts by using the water stored in their fibrous tissue; their history of use by Aboriginal people and early settlers and the multiple meanings assigned to them in our physical and cultural landscape. Some Bottle Trees found in urban or town landscapes in Queensland have been assigned an ongoing role as ‘living tributes’ to those lost in wars.
Remnant was an opportunity to make ceramic sculptures that record and pass on some of these characteristics. I created this work at a time of widespread drought and when the Queensland Bottle Tree habitat had been almost completely cleared (leaving only remnant communities). At the time of the exhibition the species was nationally recognised as threatened.