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A site installation at the Spring Bay wood chip mill as part of the 2015 Tasmanian International Arts Festival
Materials : Woodchips, timber, sterling silver, glass, wire, plastic, led light.
The sheer enormity of the mountain of rotting woodchips piled up at Spring Bay Mill immediately struck me on my first visit there. Together with the buildings and remnants of recently abandoned machinery scattered across the site, they were evidence of a practice that finished abruptly, surrendering to the forces of nature.
Walking through the site I thought about the huge number of trees that had been felled to produce these vast quantities of chips that surrounded me.
The heaps contained the torn and broken fragments of former forest giants, now each reduced to insignificant fragments of their past. In a way they were like massive funeral pyres.
My concept was to reconstruct these fragments into a simulacrum of trees and the environment of which they had once been part. I planned a clear-felled hillsides covered with tree stumps constructed from chips sourced from the site. This tableau was to be an intervention by the natural world retaking and devouring the manmade industrial landscape that had seen the demise of so many trees over the life of the mill.
A storage building was chosen for my installation because it contained ascending floor levels, interconnected by stairs. This would give the viewer a sense that they were standing both in a valley with hills rising towards the ceiling on either side, and at the same time the feeling that they were walking up an aisle towards a sanctuary containing a memory of the trees that were.
At the end of the aisle a large circular woodchip mosaic brings order to disorder, and the shrine before it holds a solitary silver chip under a glass dome - a reliquary of nature destroyed - a memento mori to the seemingly inevitable death of all things natural in the wake of human expansion.
These words are incorporated on the shrine,
Giant trees felled became a mountain of woodchips at Spring Bay. From the millions this woodchip is remembered in sterling silver.