Fieldwork: Ovens & Merri

“Landscape is inescapably bound into the pathways of process and time. There is nothing fixed or static or unchanging about landscape; it is instead a dynamic, shifting medium, always in-process, bound into weather, history, ecology and the unforeseeable contingencies of time.” James Corner.

Fieldwork: Ovens & Merri     Red Gallery, Fitzroy North    27April-14May 2017

This exhibition explored the Ovens River in Bright and the Merri Railway Station precinct in Melbourne as altered terrains, interrupted as a result through direct and indirect human interventions, both historic and contemporary.

Topographical and botanical interruptions may be the result of expansion, progress, ignorance and/or economic fulfilment yet at both sites, Ovens and Merri, plant species and valuable topsoil has been removed and/or inverted. At Bright watercourses have been changed, water diverted and stored to aide gold extraction.

The Merri Railway precinct historically was an ordinary transitory site but restorative vegetation projects by the local community in 1988 and subsequently from 2009 sees indigenous and native plant species re-established. These interventions in the landscape contribute to a sense of place, with time and site acting as an agent for human activity resulting as loss of habitat and as potential landscape for action and re-vegetation.

Digital photographs documenting each site are presented along with a sculptural work, LOSS/GAIN measuring 28 square feet, the size of a single man’s mining plot in the Bright area during 1800’s at the start of the Gold Rush. LOSS/GAIN features 400 Victorian native plant species, ‘greening’ the gallery space. Referencing the relocated and lost external landscape displaced through rail and mining, viewers are invited to take a plant as a gift whilst witnessing the artwork, during the course of the exhibition, be simultaneously reduced and destroyed, mimicking habitat loss.

The plants then provide an additional native species within a domestic garden context. This act of revegetation regards the environment as a valuable currency with attempts to address and make visible several losses. This exhibition offered the public an engagement with 2 different sites, a gallery context and an invitation to see the planting and site of the Merri Station precinct first hand.

Merri Station Site Walks: Sunday 30 April, Sunday 7 May 10am, platform 2 Merri Station, Northcote.

This exhibition was generously supported by: Western Plains Flora, VINC – Victorian Indigenous Native Plants, and ANGAIR – (Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Protection of Flora and Fauna)

Thankyou to the following: Sam Buckley, Merri Stationeers Committee -members past and current: Jela Ivankovic-Waters, Janna McCurdy, Rohan Griffiths, Matt White, Di Stanley, Mike Flattley, Anna de Leuw, Elizabeth Wotherspoon and Christos Symeonides. Travis Cross – All About Graphics, Kim Wall, Nick Reed, Garth Henderson, Sarah Tomasetti, Roger Sykes, Joy Hirst, Philippa Hesterman, Scarlet, Vi and Pearl and all those who supported me throughout this project.

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