Robert Andrew is a descendant of the Yawuru people, whose Country is the lands and waters of the Broome area in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Andrew often combines programmable technologies and machinery with raw materials, minerals, and natural materials such as ochres, rocks, soil, and water. A process of unearthing reveals hidden histories while reflecting on the politics of the management and extraction of natural resources in Australia.
Located on the Lagoon, Andrew’s work for Final Call uses a mechanical system to draw in water and spray it back over the lagoon. Through this process unexpected patterns appear, and a scatter of sound can be heard as the machine sprays and water droplets connect with the surface. As the water spray travels above the lagoon, it interacts unexpectedly with changing conditions in the atmosphere such as the wind, temperature and humidity, making each cycle unique.
Andrew uses one of our most precious resources—water—to reveal the interconnectedness of the environment. The pauses between the actions are important as they present a moment to consider the environment closely. With senses heightened waiting for the next action, other sounds, visual elements and even smells in the immediate environment draw attention to the activity of life in the spaces we occupy.
Courtney Coombs is fascinated by the potential and power of connection and disconnection. They explore this by reimagining everyday moments in a range of materials and approaches creating subjective, vulnerable and earnest artworks that prompt different ways of seeing, understanding and being.
Overlooking the Ephemeral Wetlands, Coombs’s has placed a text-based work in neon lighting. Made in the artist’s handwriting the text reads ‘SOMETIMES IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS’. Like a roadside billboard, the neon takes its place at the top of a steel structure that has been installed against the densely forested gully.
Often the narrative of climate change is foreshadowed by helplessness. It is a story of adversity told through data that measures the environmental, social, political and economic costs. The phrase Coombs has chosen is ambiguous; its casual tone is at odds with the scale it has been written and the drama of the natural backdrop it is set against. Coombs presents us with a moment to pause and reflect—an opportunity to find emotion and agency within the monumental and overwhelming by refocussing our attention on the little things within our control.
Caitlin Franzmann is interested in art’s potential to instigate change. Working closely with collaborators from different disciplines and with the characteristics of the sites in which she is working, Franzmann creates participatory artworks that are shaped by social interaction, conversation, critical listening, and collective forms of care.
Located in the Mossy Log Garden Franzmann’s recompose 2021, focuses on the processes of decay and transformation unfolding constantly at our feet. Decomposers such as fungi, bacteria, worms and insects play a critical role in the carbon cycle. As they break down dead organic matter, the decomposers move carbon both into the soil and into the atmosphere where it is absorbed through photosynthesis and stored in plants until they die and the cycle begins again.
For recompose, Franzmann has created a deck of divination cards depicting the organisms present in the leaf litter, detritus and humus of the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens. During a one-on-one experience with the artist, or through the online platform, participants select a card from the deck and receive a unique reading that responds to the survival mechanisms and ecosystem interactions of the decomposer depicted on the chosen card.
Franzmann’s work celebrates the magic and wonder of decomposition to consider how it isn’t just the end of everything—it is also the start.
Open Gardens, Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens
Itamar Freed and Courtney Scheu work at the intersection of visual art and contemporary dance. They have established a collaborative practice based on a shared interest in engaging with nature and the environment. Their work attempts to dissolve the boundaries between nature and culture, and the real and the unreal.
Floating tree (on thin lines) comprises found pieces of dead wood from many different trees. Painstakingly, Freed and Scheu have reconstituted a tree from the broken fragments and suspended it, so it appears to be levitating diagonally above the ground—somewhere between rising and falling, in limbo between life and death. Each part of the tree contains its own stories, memories and experiences of time and place. Gathered in this way, the work considers how trees communicate and cooperate with each other to form a collective memory.
Freed and Scheu are concerned with disappearing habitats, rising sea levels, and how technology is blurring the lines between the digital world and reality. The structure of the work is reminiscent of an artefact that has been excavated and pieced together for display in a museum. This tree never existed but nonetheless, the artists have conjured it into being. Part post-apocalyptic monument, part extreme act of care, Floating tree (on thin lines) explores what is at stake and how we can attempt to reconcile the impacts of human intervention in the landscape.
canvas, cotton, calico, synthetic fabric, acrylic, Maleny mud, eco dyes (Carabeen Bloodwood, Moreton Bay Ash, She Oak, Eucalyptus leaves) iron fillings, nails, graphite, earth pigments, binder
Lagoon Walk (lower section), Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens
Judy Watson’s Aboriginal matrilineal family is from Waanyi Country in northwest Queensland. Spanning the mediums of painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, video and installation, her practise often draws on archival documents and materials to reveal histories and institutionalised discrimination against Aboriginal people.
For Final Call, Watson has worked with artists Tor Maclean and Kabi Kabi elder, Aunty Helena Gulash. Suspended amongst the trees along the lower section of the Lagoon Walk are large banner-like artworks made from canvas, cotton and recycled fabric. Like something recently uncovered, these floating paintings are muddied with earth from the region as well as rusty detritus from Watson’s nephew, Dan Watson’s (Waanyi) knife making.
Some of the paintings are inscribed with scientific graphs—including temperature anomalies and carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere—that chart climate change impacts and forecasts. Others bear detailed spectrogram visualisations of Kabi Kabi (Gubbi Gubbi) language that offer a reminder that language and Country are intricately linked and, as Watson says, that ‘Aboriginal culture is a living culture; language responds to people and changes over time’. More spectrograms and Kabi Kabi words stencilled in mud from Maleny are wrapped around the water tanks at the shelters and along the concrete floor forming a vast network of associations between language, culture, knowledge, and the environment.
Aboriginal people were the first climate scientists of this country. Watson and her collaborators ask us to consider how these sophisticated systems of knowledge founded on listening to and caring for Country can inform our collective response to climate change.
Assistant artists: Ebony Wilmott and Leecee Carmichael
Sound recordings and spectrograms: Leah Barclay
The artists would like to thank: Robin Matthews, Neil Tindale, Helen Fairweather, Amie Moffat and Megan Williams
Horizon Festival pays our deepest respect to the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which Final Call is held; the Kabi Kabi peoples of the coastal plains of the Sunshine Coast.
Aboriginal people are the original climate scientists of this country and we honour the sophisticated systems of knowledge founded on listening to and caring for Country that can and should inform our collective response to climate change.