“Emerging” is Lobethal Woollen Mill study (number 20) in mixed media on wood, 400mm²—painted and exhibited during SALA 2021. The painting represents creativity and the awakening of the community from the dream-like state of 2020, 2021. It also portrays my personal experience of re-emergence into everyday activities beyond the walls of my home. Beyond FaceTime, Zoom and Netflix, and into familiar (some might say old-fashioned) social connections and activities. This is my creative emerging.
2022 is a new consciousness with that built-in awareness of slow-time, smushed into tiny segments of time-lapsed recall. I guess that’s what natural disasters and pandemics do; refocus the conscious memory to a protective ‘limp’ mode. WinZip for the brain, a process condensing wasted space. Or maybe it’s like a two-year long-haul flight that in hindsight, takes up the tiniest byte of memory due to perpetual sameness. This could generate a kind of forgetness,2 enabling forward movement.
Bushfires and Covid
“Emerging” is a collective vision of hope and is deliberately painted as if it materializes from the land itself.
The geographical location of the Adelaide Hills binds us as a community. I call this home. It provides a place for my feet on the earth; for toes to dig into sand and soil, to rinse under flowing water, a place to pause for a time. We can’t help but have moments of shared experiences due to proximity.
The bushfires sent us fleeing to the outside of our space; leaving our place and dwellings and wildlife and memories to fend for themselves. During COVID, just a few months later, we barricaded ourselves inside our place.
Amongst this toing and froing, the buildings of the Mill (unharmed by bushfires and viruses) emerged larger than before. In my mind they became a symbol of constancy and change. And in 2022, they became a place of furious determined gathering, as if an elixir of re-enrichment. There were markets, festivals, music, recovery, joyfulness, tears, workshops, productivity and activity, and the word “bustling” returned to the present tense.
Place and Activity
Lobethal is relevant to me right now because I am within it as a place. I am part of its taskscape; an active participant. I move through this geography as a surface dweller engaged in everyday activities. If tracked, my activities would produce chaotic, anachronistic patterns; all those important daily tasks reduced to string theory patterns of energy.
One day, however, my point of view, efforts and reality will disappear. I will move to the outside of my place; no longer able to perform my jobs and participate in the communal taskscape. But, as I become organic matter within the earth, I will be inside place again. Literally, a topographical layer.
Capsules of Activity
I have chosen to paint the buildings of the Lobethal Woollen Mill. I could have chosen, instead, the surrounding landscapes, flora, fauna, people and/or activities. But these buildings represent the overflow of dynamic energy of activity; human, non-human, animate, inanimate.
On the inside the Mill bursts with human social life, activities, and production. On the outside are fleeting visitors: a river flowing between the buildings; surreptitious movements of rabbits, birds, mice and insects; and traffic streaming around and through the site. Can you imagine a timelapse camera recording the flow of all activities at the Mill? The land and buildings would be the only constants in focus. Kind of like the stability of a gelatin capsule protecting, binding and delivering vital healing properties.
A sense of place and community in our space on earth.
A constant in our fleeting lives.
Wood and Colour
“Emerging” has been painted on wood to connect physically, organically and metaphorically to the Mill. The earthy tones of sienna, ultramarine and viridian reflect natural elements within the land; while the wood panel they are painted upon is a physical and organic connection. The wood represents the trees that surround the mill—some alive and some burnt-out stumps, but still living as homes for wildlife. It also represents the wooden floors and walls inside the Mill. These structures support and protect the myriad of beings traversing within and through the site.
Proximity and Relationships
“Emerging” represents human connections, meanings, and a multitude of moments glued together chaotically. And even though I am still unsure of the handshake and hug, the mask-less smiles of 2022 are priceless—a new found appreciation within emergence.
The long hoped for sense of emergence arrived at my doorstep in December 2021 when the South Australian borders opened, and family members were able to return home for Christmas. It was a tense time as State Governments’ rules and regulations changed constantly, and that was just the first hurdle.
The watercolour painting below was the first creative task that benefited from my actual sense that emergence was occurring, beyond the wistful hope of my “Emerging” artwork. “Happy, Healthy and Here” will be exhibited during SALA (South Australian Living Artists’ festival) in 2022 and will be posted in full on this website in August.
“I just want the family happy, healthy and here.”A Christmas lament by Kendrea Rhodes
- Many concepts within this post have been influenced by: Tim Ingold, “The Temporality of the Landscape”, World Archaeology, Oct 1993, Vol 25, 152-174; and Doreen Massey, “Landscape as Provocation; reflections of moving mountains”, Journal of Material Culture, 2006, Vol. 11(1/2); pp 33-48. (Many thanks to EdF).
- Forgetness: the willful forgetting of something. Forgetness doesn’t always work because the more you try the more you remember. A scale of forgetness might be better, because the art of forgetness lies in trying to forget, therefore you have to remember the thing you are trying to forget. Wiktionary says forgetness is forgetfulness or the act of forgetting, but I think it’s much more than that—it’s about will and control. This is different to forgetfulness, which is trying to remember the thing you’ve forgotten. Forgettting is the sign of a healthy brain, we’ve just forgotten the benefits of forgetting. The ABC podcast, Future Tense, presents the science of forgetting and two synaptic mechanisms within the brain: one for remembering and one for forgetting. I don’t think forgetting is a weakness, but a possible skill to perfect.